If Malcom Muggeridge never wrote anything else in his life with the exception of Something Beautiful for God, his literary and journalistic reputation would have been assured. An eloquent yet succinct account of Mother Teresa's life among the utterly destitute and ravaged of India, the narrative is compellingly told without any fanfare or hardened journalistic cynicism. Muggeridge is a witness to the actions of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, and he writes as such.
Malcom Muggeridge was a British hard-lined, no frills broadcast and newspaper reporter who aligned himself with the agnostic branch of thinking, dubious at best and doubtful at worst; his assignment in covering Mother Teresa's life in Calcutta was just another job, an acquirement for space filler for his show, a human drama that would make good television, nothing more or less. But he was curious, too. With that attitude, he interviewed Mother Teresa, who herself was cautious, for she did not want the program to be about her, but rather, the leprous and dying down and outs who filled the cities of India but whom God loved beyond all human understanding.
The first chapter of the account is titled Something Beautiful for God, and herein is where Malcom Muggeridge introduces how he came about being involved with the story; it also showcases the compassion of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. Their offerings are little and are not so much of a monetary or materialistic nature, for these people are so utterly bereft, both physically and mentally, all they want is love, to be held, to be touched, to be told that they have a value that far exceeds what is earthly. At the onset, Muggeridge is very much of this world. Money makes life better, but that is not what people need when they are ferociously shunned or dying. And bit by bit, a gradual understanding begins to seep into his logic and intellect.
The second chapter is titled Mother Teresa's Way of Love, and it is a kind of principle that she adheres to as a nun, a religious philosophy that guides and navigates her through the trenches of the fowl and the unpleasant. They are snippets titled: On Love of God, On Prayer, On Holiness, et cetera, et cetera. They are brief points that can be applicable to anyone, like St. Josemaria Escriva's books: The Way, The Furrow and The Forge. Bullets of religious insights.
The third chapter is titled Mother Teresa Speaks, and it is set up as a Q & A section whereby Malcom Muggeridge and Mother Teresa simply converse. Here Mother Teresa talks about her religious vocation and her call within a call. She talks about the austerity of her life, but how it's all given to Jesus Christ in the Mass and the Holy Eucharist. She sees Jesus at the Mass and sees Him again in the dead and dying, forgotten by society and shunned, just as Jesus Christ was. It is not difficult for her to see and make the connection. She has joy that she is there, lifting Him up and holding Him.
The last chapter is called A Door of Utterance, and herein contains the musings of Malcom Muggeridge himself, one of my favorite chapters, primarily because the writing is so beautiful and eloquent. It's almost transcendental and lyrically mystical; the woven language flows as if Muggeridge himself is possessed by the Holy Spirit but is trying to keep it somewhat at bay so he can focus on the job at hand, and that is to tell the story of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. The experience of love that he witnessed obviously had a transformative effect, and it made for uplifting and moving reading.
In conclusion, what I liked most about this book was that it took the veil of celebrity off Mother Teresa. So many people recognize her as a Nobel laureate and humanitarian but not really as a religious nun who had profound faith yet who quietly suffered the dark night of the soul. She lived for Christ, worked for Christ and loved for Christ; this short work captures her roots and her religious essence and conveys a beautiful potency of Something Beautiful for God.