Mother Teresa: No Greater Love {movie review}

Mother Teresa’s name and face are known and loved by people around the world. This tiny woman who did “small things with great love” has touched the heart of thousands with her life’s work. And yet today, twenty-five years after her death, perhaps we are starting to forget her call to serve the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa: No Greater Love is a new documentary that examines the life of this amazing woman, bringing her alive for a new generation.

Mother Teresa: No Greater Love (documentary poster)

I received a complimentary viewing of this movie; all opinions expressed are my own.

Mother Teresa: No Greater Love overview

Spanning 5 continents, Mother Teresa: No Greater Love features footage of modern-day Missionaries of Charity carrying on Mother Teresa’s legacy, interviews with people who knew her or her work well, archival footage of historical moments and re-enacted moments in her life. Moving seamlessly through past and present, the movie takes viewers into Mother Teresa’s amazing life in a deeply inspiring, memorable way.

Photo of Mother Teresa smiling at a girl in front of her.

A Family-Friendly Documentary

My first question, when watching a new movie, is “who can watch it?” I usually try to check reviews and see what other parents are saying about a movie. Of course, in the case of a brand-new movie like this one, it’s harder to find that information. I ended up watching Mother Teresa: No Greater Love with Sunshine (14), Jade (9) and Joey (almost 5). Lily (12) had homework to do that night, so she popped in and out.

Jade often feels left out when I watch movies with her older sisters, but I figured a saint movie should be okay for her and I’d discuss anything necessary with her. I didn’t really expect the younger two kids to get much out of it, so I let Pearl listen to some stories in her room and go to bed. Joey pretty much snacked for the movie duration and then fell asleep (and woke up around midnight upset we weren’t still watching the movie).

Mother Teresa praying.

Sunshine and Jade really enjoyed Mother Teresa: No Greater Love. There was nothing in it that raised concerns for me as a parent. Some kids may be sensitive to a few scenes where nuns are shown helping people with injuries or special needs. This is what Sunshine was worried about, as she knew like I did that Mother Teresa worked among very ill and dying people.

In one scene, a nun is shown bathing a math without a shirt who has rashes on his upper shoulders which made Jade ask questions; I guessed it was leprosy. Another question they asked was about a baby with a huge head (likely hydrocephalus). In New York, the nuns work among AIDS patients and the girls asked what AIDS was but I didn’t have a chance to discuss that with them while we were viewing the movie.

Overall, Mother Teresa: No Greater Love would be great for the whole family to view. As it is a documentary more than a movie, it may be boring for some younger kids. There’s quite a bit of talking in the interviews with people who knew her, such as Bishop Barron, a photographer, sisters from her order, the postulator for her cause for canonization, and others. Those interviews are interspersed with enough archival and modern footage of Mother Teresa and her missionaries at work to hold the attention of most kids (like Jade).

You’ll Be Changed

I thought I knew Mother Teresa’s story when we started watching this movie. We’ve listened to the Holy Heroes Glory Story about her life, and this month Pearl has been studying India for social studies so we’ve read several books about Mother Teresa. None of those captured the depth of her work like this documentary did.

Mother Teresa: No Greater Love takes us all onto the streets of India, the United States, Brazil, and others. We see the sick, the dying, the hungry, the homeless, the needy whom Mother and her nuns served. We hear these nuns talking about “Mother,” just as “Mother,” and we hear the love in their voices as they mention her name and her impact on their lives and we see the way they continue to follow her example.

I cried. I cried nearly all the way through this documentary. You cannot watch this movie and not be touched by Mother Teresa’s life and work.

I think so often, we look at the problems of the world around us and we say, “It’s too big.” There are so many problems in so many places that it can be overwhelming. Mother Teresa wasn’t overwhelmed. She walked out her door and helped the first person whom she saw laying in the street, and then the next, and the next. She touched the untouchable. She gave dignity to those who were dying. She spoke out for the rights of those who can’t speak. She did it all with a smile, and many people in the documentary said that when Mother spoke with you, it was as if you were the only person in the room.

Mother Teresa smiling.

One more thing that struck me about Mother Teresa: No Greater Love was the mention of her time of spiritual darkness. Mother Teresa had a mystical encounter with Jesus that changed the course of her life. And then after that… silence. She did all of her work on the streets without any further inspiration or consolation or encouragement from the One Whom she loved so deeply.

Snippets of her journal were shown where she cried out to God, feeling abandoned and unheard. Feeling like those she served. And yet she kept doing the work He called her to do. In the midst of extreme suffering, she hid her own suffering with a smile and did what she could to alleviate the suffering around her.

See Mother Teresa in Theatres

Mother Teresa: No Greater Love will be back in theatres across the United States and Canada on November 2 and 3. FaithFilms has a list of Canadian theatres showing the documentary. To view the trailer, find US theatres, or read more about the documentary, drop by the official movie website.

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