By Sarah Mac Donald - 27 November, 2014
Author, John Scally, is one of the few people in Ireland to whom Mother Teresa wrote a letter.
Back in February 1993, she agreed to meet the young journalist for an interview when she came to Dublin to be presented with the Freedom of the City.
‘Mother Teresa on Advent and Christmas’ is published by Columba Press.
The reflections of Mother Teresa show us how to make the right choices and to have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts.
Amid the dirt and dying in Calcutta’s slums, in the depths of the most appalling poverty, Mother Teresa revealed to many people the face of God. She gave witness to the power of Love, and its ability to light up even the darkest places.
On RTE’s Nationwide recently, John Scally told Mary Kennedy that this isn’t the first book he has written about the Albanian nun.
Explaining his interest, he said that “Like a lot of children growing up in the 1970s in Ireland, and from a very catholic home, Mother Teresa was very much an iconic figure.”
He can still remember seeing her on the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne in the early 70s, though he was only in primary school at the time.
“There was a sense that this woman is very special,” John Scally, who has written a number of books on GAA sporting heroes, explained.
“What appealed to me about her was that she didn’t just talk the talk – she walked the walk. It was the way she devoted her life to helping the poor.”
Another factor was that she had very strong Irish connections.
“Some people aren’t even aware of the fact that she began her life as a nun in Rathfarnham in Dublin. It gave a sense that this was someone who walked amongst us – and went on to be someone who tried to shine a light to the world.”
Recalling that Mother Teresa was often referred to as “a champion of the poorest of the poor”, Roscommon-born Scally said she often used the phrase “the least, the last and the lost” by which she meant those who were on the margins of society.
“It wasn’t just the poverty. One of the things she told me was that the biggest problem she faced on a daily basis was not actually poverty but loneliness. That is something I suppose we can all identify with – no matter how well off we are – at different times in our life we suffer from loneliness.”
According to John Scally, the awarding of the Freedom of Dublin to Mother Teresa was a great testimony to the great affection in which a lot of Irish people would have held her at the time.
It recognised that this was a woman who had done something special and was trying to do what she could to change the world.
“In 1979 she won the Nobel Peace Prize – for a nun to achieve that status is pretty remarkable,” he said.
Asked about the worldwide outpouring of grief when Mother Teresa died in 1997, John Scally said many saw her as a “benchmark for goodness and for helping and service to other people”.
Of the book’s linking of Mother Teresa and Advent and Christmas, John Scally explained that Mother Teresa had a great love of Christmas and Advent in particular.
“She saw Advent as the season of the head and Christmas as the season of the heart. The book provides a reflection for each of the days of advent and each of the twelve days of Christmas.”
He explained that it also captures some of the themes she devoted her life to: serving the poor – finding Christ in your neighbour – showing your love of God in concrete ways of helping other people.
She felt we should be Christians 365 days a year but she did feel there was something about this season that brought out the more caring side of people.