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Catholic Review of: Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait

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Author:  Msgr. Leo Maasburg

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This item received 5 stars overall. (12/14/2011)

Orthodoxy: Completely orthodox.
Reading Level: Intermediate

 Brandon VogtBy Brandon Vogt (FL) - See all my reviews


Several new stories about the 20th century's greatest saint

Evaluator Comments

Since her death in 1997, we've seen a steady stream of books about Mother Teresa. A quick Amazon search reveals that there are more than 10,000 titles on the holy woman.

Now that's not a bad thing. I think more people need to discover her; I agree with Dr. Peter Kreeft who says that if you want to be a saint in the modern world, all you need is to read Mother Teresa and John Paul II. One problem with all of these titles, though, is redundancy. Most books tell the same stories in the same ways and feature the same prayers and words of wisdom.

That’s why I was so excited to read a new book by Fr. Leo Maasburg titled Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait (Ignatius, hardcover, 265 pages). This book is special--certainly set apart from the other 10,000--precisely because Fr. Maasburg was Mother Teresa’s friend, confessor, spiritual advisor, and translator for many years. He brings a unique perspective and in the book shares fifty stories that have never been published before.

One of my favorites was the tale of her marching up to Pope John Paul II, demanding the canonization of Fr. Damien of Molokai.“Holy Father, we need a saint for our lepers!” she explained. After Mother noted why Fr. Damien was the perfect candidate, the Pope recommended she talk with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Mother Teresa went to him next, but encountered a snag. The bishop explained that no miracles had been attributed to Fr. Damien after his death, a fundamental requirement for canonization. With admirable resolve, Mother Teresa countered, “Yes, but maybe this would be a good opportunity to change that tradition.”

The prefect gave a kind and clever smile, then said, "Mother Teresa, you're quite right. But don't you think it would be much simpler for you to ask the Good Lord for these miracles than for us to change our four-hundred-year-old tradition?" Fr. Maasburg claims that was the only time that he ever saw Mother Teresa speechless. She walked away without giving an answer, presumably to begin her onslaught of prayer.

From building a Spanish orphanage without a penny in her pocket to saving a declining railroad company from ruin, these stories reveal a side to Mother Teresa that the world has never seen. Certainly, any book on Mother Teresa is a valuable read, but Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait stands out among the rest as a unique glimpse at one of the twentieth-century’s most holiest women.

You can purchase this book here.

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