Mother Teresa: In the Shadow of Our Lady, by Joseph Langford, MC, is not a large book, with only 116 pages. It’s not hard to read and it’s not so deep you feel drowned in theology. Unlike the last book I read about Mother Teresa, I didn’t find myself unable to read quickly, but I did try to savor (as much as I could with a looming library due date), and I did make notes. Reading it convinced me that I do, in fact, need my own copy. I’d need my own copy for the appendices if nothing else, though I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it too.

I feel as though this book has made a profound impact on me in the week I’ve been tucking it in my purse and carrying it with me.

A specific image in the book, that of holding Mary’s hand, really struck me. But it wasn’t the only image that stayed with me after I put the book down. Have you ever thought of Mary as your “life coach”?

One way of entering into intimacy with her [Mary], of allowing her to play an active role in our lives, is to listen to her — to give her the chance to speak in our soul and to guide us, to become our “life coach” in the ways of the Lord, as she did for Juan Diego and for Mother Teresa.

And how about this image, where Jesus is compared to an emergency room? I know that the point of this passage is that Jesus is not an emergency room, but it’s an image that stuck with me, made me turn it over in my mind, made me grasp deeper into the idea of the book.

For Jesus, the Resurrection, was not an emergency room where the Father took away all the signs of the Passion. Jesus rose with his wounds, wounds now transformed from darkness to light, dug into his hands in time and in pain and now become eternal fonts of light and blessing and glory.

It isn’t because it’s full of great images or seeping great writing that this book — and this idea of holding Mary’s hand, of having Mary as my life coach, of Jesus the ER — touches me so deeply. It is well-written, mind you, but it’s also full of real life examples, things that made me say, completely not tongue-in-cheek, “You know, I could try that.”

I was inspired, but not inspired the way I am when I see someone who’s so holy that I can’t get too close. I wasn’t inspired the way I am when I hear about someone who survives a situation I can’t properly fathom. And it wasn’t inspired the way I am when I look skyward at night or seaward at sunrise and see God’s creation.

No, this book inspired me in a nitty-gritty sort of way. I realize this is probably just where I am in my life right now, up to my elbows in weeds and little kids and work that needs done. It made me wrinkle my eyebrows a bit and see, once again, the abundance in my life, the many graces and the blessings.

The more we discover the magnitude and abundance of God’s gifts, the more we will find ourselves in what Mother Teresa experienced in Our Lady. We begin to expect good things from God. We expect him to bless us in a special way, today. We find ourselves looking forward to each day, like a child on Christmas Eve. What surprise of love has the Father prepared for me today? What gifts has he prepared for my family? We enter into a state of faith. This was the attitude and life breath of Our Lady.

Doesn’t it seem a little counterintuitive at first, expecting good things from God? Well, it did for me, until I sat down and wondered why. Why do I expect the bad? Why are the termites no surprise, but the jackpot of time is? What made me look at things so upside down, when all God ever tells us is that he loves us? That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but if I’m striving for his will, if I’m accepting his grace, if I’m walking in his shadow…well then, I should be OK.


Until I get good at that, though, I’m going to be turning this book over in my mind. Unfortunately, this copy was the local library’s. I’m going to have to get my own copy soon. The appendices include the biblical foundation for devotion to Mary, some great scriptural passages that point to Mary, and a translation of the Nican Mopohua, the story of Juan Diego written in the Aztec language by the Indian scholar Antonio Valeriano in the mid-16th century.

My goal, using the fabulous imagery I now have implanted in my mind thanks to this book, is to be in Mary’s shadow in a deliberate way. I’m certain she’ll lead me where she always does…back to her Son.