Mother Teresa’s Mercy Mission

Book Pick: A Call to Mercy



Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve

By Mother Teresa (edited by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk)

Image, 2016

384 pages, $25

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Mother Teresa, humble nun and saint, was a model of mercy.

Her legacy is her humanitarian service to the “poorest of the poor” — the sick and dying, the hungry and homeless, who lived on the streets in Kolkata, India.

In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.” And Pope John Paul II, recognizing her sanctity, waived the normal five-year waiting period before the beatification process could begin.

Just in time for Mother Teresa’s canonization comes A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve. Edited and with an introduction by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, a Missionary of Charity priest, postulator of the cause for her beatification and canonization, the book offers never-before-published writings from Mother Teresa, as well as testimonials and stories from the people who knew her best.

The 14 chapters correspond with the seven corporate and seven spiritual works of mercy. Each chapter begins with a short introduction explaining Mother Teresa’s understanding of these spiritual and corporate acts, followed by quotes from her writings via letters to her sisters, other members of her religious family, co-workers, friends; exhortations and instructions to her sisters; public addresses and speeches; as well as interviews.

Testimonies from those who knew her well — the eyewitnesses who lived with her under the same roof or who worked alongside her serving the poor — round out her life story.

Father Kolodiejchuk ends each chapter with a short section of questions for reflection and a prayer, meant to prompt readers to be more open to God’s mercy, and also, following the example of Mother Teresa, to be more open and willing to extend that mercy to our brothers and sisters.

The stories from Mother Teresa’s life are powerful reminders that there are people, loved by God but forgotten by their neighbors, who need our help. I was touched by one story told in Mother Teresa’s own words:

“Some time ago one woman came with her child to me and said, ‘Mother, I went to two, three places to beg some food, for we have not eaten for three days; but they told me that I am young, and I must work and eat. No one gave me anything.’ I went to get some food, and by the time I returned, the baby in her hand had died of hunger. I hope it was not our convents that refused her.”

Father Kolodiejchuk shares a few of his favorite stories, as well. He tells of when Mother Teresa, surrounded by admirers, was drawn toward a shy, lonely woman in a corner — and made an effort to go and talk to her.

Page after page, Mother Teresa’s message is: “You can do the same.”

Kathy Schiffer writes from

Southfield, Michigan.