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When a saint is as well known as Mother Teresa, it is perhaps easy to think, “ah yes, we are familiar with her. We already know what she has to teach us.”

This assumption is quite incorrect, according to the postulator of her cause and editor of several works about Mother Teresa, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C..

Fr. Kolodiejchuk has edited the newest release about Mother Teresa, Image Book’s “A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve,” released just last week. This book, designed to coincide with the Jubilee of Mercy, distills Mother Teresa’s message and is, as Fr. Kolodiejchuk says, “a practical and very down to earth expression of how ‘mercy’ reaches ‘misery.'”
ZENIT: Mother Teresa is so well known and much loved by the whole world. What do you think we need to learn about her by reading a more in-depth biography?

Fr. Kolodiejchuk: Indeed, Mother Teresa is generally known as an icon of love and compassion to the poorest, the weakest, those on the “peripheries” of human existence. She is loved and admired as a universal icon of mercy, a truly extraordinary person. Nonetheless, I don’t think she is that well known among the younger generation; many children, teens and young adults have very little or even no knowledge of her life and message.

Even many of those who know of Mother Teresa do not have more than a general knowledge of her life, work and message. This can be seen by the reactions to the books that I have edited over the last years. Each book reveals something new about Mother Teresa and so have “surprised” in some way its readers: Come Be My Light, with the revelation of her interior darkness that she embraced in union with the poor she served; Where There is Love, There is God, revealing her deep and simple wisdom on important spiritual themes, like faith, love, trust; and now A Call to Mercy, showing her “love in action” through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This book clearly reveals her preferential love to the poorest and neediest. 

I think that most people can still learn a lot about Mother Teresa. She has been a prophet in our times and her message is still essential for the world today. She made us aware of the presence of the poor, the dignity of each person, of the value of human life from conception to natural death, of the call of everyone to their real mission on earth, that is, to love and to be loved, to love until it hurts, to be holy.

The source of Mother Teresa’s energy and zeal was not an idea, not a concept: it was a person – Jesus – whom she wanted to love as He had never been loved before. She testifies to the world that the teaching of Jesus is true; she lives it and puts it into action. Her firm belief in the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, “You did it to me,” made others aware of the presence of Jesus in the poor, or as she said, in “the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.” It was a reality that she brought home to many.

So there is still a lot to learn from her and about her: her faith, her interior life, her character, her relationships – first her relationship with God, and then her relationship with her family, her Sisters, her closest collaborators, and especially with the poor. There are also a lot of interesting things about her that will fascinate readers, for example, her common sense, her remarkable energy, her sense of humor and certain of her “particular practices” such as changing furniture in the house.

An in-depth biography will be my next major writing project, which I hope will bring to Mother Teresa’s admirers, and readers in general, a compelling picture of who she really was.