Kathryn Spink’s biography of Mother Teresa is a compelling portrait of one of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century. In this review, we will explore the main themes and ideas presented in the book, and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
The Hidden Treasure: Early Life and Religious Vocation
The book begins by exploring Mother Teresa’s early life, emphasizing the importance of her family and religious upbringing. Spink highlights how Mother Teresa’s commitment to helping others was instill in her from an early age, and how this led her to join the Sisters of Loreto and eventually to India, where she found her true calling.
One of the strengths of Spink’s approach is her attention to detail and her use of primary sources. By drawing on Mother Teresa’s own words, as well as the recollections of those who knew her, Spink provides a vivid and intimate portrait of her subject. This approach helps to bring Mother Teresa to life as a human being, rather than a distant and saintly figure.
The Missionaries of Charity: Serving the Poorest of the Poor
The heart of the book is devote to Mother Teresa’s work with the Missionaries of Charity. Spink explores how Mother Teresa’s experiences in the slums of Calcutta led her to start a new order focused on serving the poorest of the poor. She highlights how Mother Teresa’s emphasis on simplicity, humility, and devotion inspired her followers and earned her the respect and admiration of people around the world.
Spink’s portrayal of Mother Teresa’s work is both moving and inspiring. She captures the courage and compassion of the Missionaries of Charity, and provides numerous examples of their impact on the lives of the people they served. However, at times the book can feel somewhat hagiographic, with Mother Teresa portrayed as a nearly perfect figure. While it is clear that Spink has great admiration for her subject, some readers may find the lack of critical analysis and engagement with potential criticisms of Mother Teresa’s work and legacy a weakness of the book.
Spiritual Life and Canonization
The final section of the book explores Mother Teresa’s spiritual life and her canonization. Spink delves into the private letters and spiritual writings of Mother Teresa, providing insight into her deep and complex relationship with God. She also examines the process of canonization and the controversies that have arisen in the wake of Mother Teresa’s death.
This section of the book is particularly valuable for readers interest in Mother Teresa’s spirituality and her legacy. Spink’s insights into the more private aspects of Mother Teresa’s life help to flesh out our understanding of her as a person, rather than simply an icon. However, some readers may find the discussion of the canonization process overly technical and dry.
Overall, “Mother Teresa” by Kathryn Spink is a well-written and engaging biography that provides a comprehensive overview of Mother Teresa’s life and work. While the book is largely uncritical of its subject, it nevertheless provides a valuable contribution to our understanding of one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century. The use of primary sources and personal anecdotes help to bring Mother Teresa to life as a complex and inspiring figure, and the book is a must-read for anyone interest in her life and legacy.