Charity to a missionary?
Posted October 20, 2003
The Missionaries of Charity are, for a change, the beneficiaries of some divine benevolence what with Mother Teresa all set to become a Saint, courtesy, Pope. No complaints about that for it makes little sense to a communal ignoramus and a sinner to boot like me. But it is really surprising that the beatification of Mother Teresa should be written about in so reverential terms by the national, nay, rational dailies of the country while they habitually baulk at such similar Hindu rituals, let alone, miracles and miss no opportunity to deride the Sai Baba or the Shankaracharya on flimsy reasons. Indeed, it is quite revealing of their duplicity that is continuously getting exposed with every passing day, mornings to be precise, making one flinch in distaste at even the customary coffee that is otherwise invigorating. But, okay, instead of crying over spilt coffee let's get to know what this hullaballo is all about.
According to The Webster beatification means 'to render a person supremely blessed, with celestial enjoyment'. It is a preliminary to canonisation . Now canonisation ..wait, let me go to 'C', yeah, here it is ...means to place one in the list of Saints. So after beatification it shall be Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and then once the canon is issued, she will qualify as Saint Teresa. She became a Blessed Soul recently following the approval by the Pope of a 'posthumous' miracle of curing an otherwise incurable stomach ailment. And for her to become a Saint another miracle attributable to her would have to be approved by the Vatican screening team and then by the Pope. But going by current trends out there, it would be a miracle only if another miracle fails to surface! In any case, there is an army of zealous investigators poring over her history in search of miracles and they can be trusted to come up with something even more stultifying, say like, getting rid of AIDS by just gazing at the infected soul. But I hope the readers got the drift of the whole thing.
Much heavy weather is being made of what is essentially a charade, as if the Pope was unwilling and that it required all the power of persuasion plus a few ounces of divine grace for him to 'relent'. Beatification and Sainthood are wholly religious affairs based on approval of mysterious miracles and not an acknowledgement of visible service, which is what Mother Teresa was believed to have been doing in India. But it is now quite obvious that the Vatican certificate would gain precedence over every other recognition granted to her with a predictable clamour from her cheer-leaders to christen her as Saint Teresa, even in Government records and public discourse, not to speak of demands for St Teresa Circles, Squares et al. But whatever would now happen to the national honours granted by this very secular country on her? This country accorded her a tri-colour- draped State funeral and conferred a Bharat Ratna for her services to the poor and downtrodden, and not certainly for her miracles, despite the fact that there were more deserving, but faceless ratnas dotting the Bharat landscape and many more who died unsung with unattended funerals. But with this Blessed Soul and Sainthood business occupying popular mindspace, the prestigious Bharat Ratna title, granted with all love and sincerity, now runs the risk of becoming a footnote in fine print in Mother Teresas history, with both our beloved Bharat and its priceless Ratna being expendable appendages. The Vaticans benevolence recognises no boundaries and so the Pope shall prevail over our people, Parliament and prestige. We should probably strike a face-saving deal to make it Vatican Ratna. That would sound very secular too!
And there is, of course, the question of miracles that form the core of the whole issue. That the modern, rational, scientific and liberating religion of Christianity should seek to lay such store by miracles is by itself a telling commentary of the true faith and the faithful. These zealots, however, could be spared for their saintly disregard of science and common sense, but what of the rational torchbearers of vigil in the media and politics? Why would they not investigate the matter thoroughly to find out if that Monica Basra did in fact get cured by the Mothers grace, something that even Mr Basra denies? Or that the doctors failed her, something again, which they all deny in unison, and with incontrovertible proof? Or that, if the Mothers healing touch really did the trick then why not ask for an action replay? And if that was the way things happened, how come the multitudes of the country who habitually suffer from stomach ailments, ranging from routine upsets, to diarhhoeas to intestinal cancer were denied the benefit of that miraculous remedy that learned doctors were so unaware of? Again, if that miracle were true, then are there not a surfeit of such instances with scores of miracle-messiahs stalking this country for centuries? So, whats new? Even within the Christian fold, dont we routinely bump into one faith-healer or the other, either on beach fronts, or street corners or on the TV who claim to have cures for all ailments ranging from the common cold to dragon-bite to the most-dreaded sciatikeil*&$#@?
Indeed, if miracle-healing was a yardstick for religious greatness, the Pope would have to open several Vatican outlets, with the usual paraphernalia like counters and tokens, in virtually every Indian village to accommodate surging crowds of Brothers, Fathers and Sisters, all claiming Sainthood with cured converts in tow as proof. Again, it seems to have escaped our nosey newshounds that the entire episode may be a Catholic ploy, a holy ruse, to secure conversions by luring the gullible into believing in Christian miracles by exploiting the reputation of Mother Teresa, in perfect sync with the Popes declared calendar of harvest. Why go to hospitals when all you need is just a locket of the Mother, or some such Franchisee-Saint, though the Mother herself shunned her own badly-maintained sick-bays, not to speak of lockets and died at a Hindu-owned hospital? Yet, despite all this, the Mothers miracles, nay her entire service record, has merited little media scrutiny.
The Leftist West Bengal government, under pressure from rationalist groups and doctors, conducted an inquiry and rejected the miracle as ridiculous. The doctors who went into the whole affair have also spoken about the approach by the Vatican to get a favourable verdict from them. Yet, the rational Commies of Calcutta themselves have maintained a diplomatic silence on the miracles of Teresa of Calcutta. In case, their intellect has got corroded, they can always refresh themselves say, by reading the revelations of Christopher Hitchens, a secular author at that, who mustered the courage to call some of the Blessed Bluffs in his seminal book titled The Missionary Position: Mother Teresas Crimes Against Humanity. The author, among other things, makes no bones about the evangelical intent behind the Mothers acts of charity. And if that is the tendency of a Bharat Ratna Mother Teresa, who is supposed to be selfless service personified we can well imagine the disposition of lesser missionaries. The book would make one shudder, in disgust and worse at having sbeen taken for a jolly, or rather, holy ride.
Are we not being a bit too naive and a lot too generous for our good? There is so much hype about what Mother Teresa had done for India that we seem to have forgotten what we have done for her. Little wonder, then, that the charity that actually began at our home, India, has been hijacked by Rome!