Chesterton once observed that “The Saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta is one of those strong antidotes for an age infected with extreme libertarian selfishness and extreme totalitarian desires (which are, in fact, closely linked). She is an antidote for the extreme libertarian selfishness of the Left, challenging the feckless philosophy that my groin is my own to do with as I please and with no regard for the human lives which result from my choices:
But she is also a radical challenge to the extreme libertarian selfishness of the right, which *claims* to be filled with a burning desire to help the least of these without “government interference” but spends all its time and energy protesting the government interference and none of its time and energy helping the least of these. Such a narcissist philosophy is far more concerned with getting the credit for kicking five bucks into a GoFundMe than with whether or not the family whose toddler is dying of leukemia gets the treatment it needs. Just so long as the state doesn’t help, the libertarian is happy. The toddler doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the libertarian is not forced to contribute to the common good and gets all the credit for the five bucks.
The Left’s hostility to Mother Teresa is, of course, legendary. Christopher Hitchens famously said of her that “I wish there was a hell for the bitch to go to” and devoted great energy to damning her as a sadistic fiend and a religious fanatic. He did epically sloppy work in that regard and spawned a small cottage industry of imitators and parrots who simply have repeated his assaults without applying that famous skepticism for which atheists pride themselves as they worship, but do no use, their intellects. Among them were, not coincidentally, Penn Gillette, who forgot his hatred of Hitchens’ hard leftist Trotskyism-cum-Neocon-war-zealotry, to add his Libertarian shouts of hatred for the saint to those of Hitchens. Strange bedfellows, like Pilate and Herod, often make common cause against Christ. For an analysis of their sloppiness and sloppiness of all the Teresa haters of the libertarian Left and Right, go here. She is, in the end, hated because she reminds the prideful on the Left that they cannot cure death and that all earthly hopes are doomed to frustration.
But perhaps the weirdest poison for which St. Teresa is the antidote is the malice and hatred directed at her from the Greatest Catholics of All Time. Men and women who have failed to make a single convert to the Faith, who in fact hate converts to the Faith as enemy fifth columnists, who loathed JPII and who loathe Francis even more precisely because of their intensely evangelical approach to the Faith suddenly are busy denouncing St. Teresa because she failed to put dying people in a half-nelson and force them to convert. All over St. Blogs, we are hearing from The Righteous as they denounce her canonization as a triumph of modernism.
Meanwhile, from the overwhelming majority of the faithful there is the clear recognition that, by the fidelity of her witness, and, above all, by her dedication to serving Christ in the least of these, Mother Teresa was a St. Lawrence for our age, showing that the treasures of the Church are hidden in the poor and that God’s favor rests on those whom the world despises. She is one of the greatest evangelists of our time and the only people more blind to it than Hitchens are Greatest Catholics of All Time.
“If you hear a thing being accused of being too tall and too short, too red and too green, too bad in one way and too bad also in the opposite way, then you may be sure that it is very good.” – G.K. Chesterton
St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!