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Thursday, August 23, 2007
Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith
I received an e-mail with this link http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1655415-2,00.html

I found this very interesting. I was curious what other thoughts would be. To be honest, I almost found her more of a saint (not Catholic either). I found myself respecting her even more than before. If she was having these "dark" times, how amazing that she would continue to give and "live" the way of Jesus, regardless of these doubts. Where many times our faith and followings are self-centered and in hopes of pleasing God to get more blessings, she inspires me more to live the 'ways' of Jesus. I also feel that within the doubts and understanding, can come true strength of spirit. What are your thoughts?
posted by Unknown at 11:34 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 8/23/2007 02:45:00 PM, Anonymous Rachel

    Thanks for posting this, Michelle. I just got the same email earlier this morning as well, but I am really struggling with it. I feel as if I've been punched in the gut. Probably part of why I'm feeling so upset about it is that I got the email from my brother, who is a virulently anti-Catholic fundamentalist Baptist. He had to include a snide remark about "Romanism" and he knows how much I admire Mother Teresa, so I feel like he emailed it to me to prove a point. It's not hard for me to accept that MT would have had doubts and gone through a dark night of the soul - I think those experiences are a normal part of the faith journey. But that the dark night lasted 50 years and never abated? And all those beautiful things she said over all those years she really wasn't feeling them at all? I've quoted her so many times and now I don't know how to feel. I'm just having a really emotional reaction to this. I need some help sorting it out, sisters.

  • At 8/23/2007 04:27:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Wow Rachel,

    You're comments certainly made me think in a different way. I think it shows how much our context and experiences play into our responses.

    This was e-mailed to me by my dad. He was asking what I thought, since he knows I have being down this interesting journey this last couple of years.
    I have become more like he is. He has always had questions, and struggled with many "religious" ideas over the years. He said my mother would probably have a snide comment about it, just as you felt your brother was doing (she is a fundamentalist Baptist type).

    I can't completely relate to your feelings as I respected her, but from afar. I am sorry that this is being thrown in your face, or so you suspect. If I can try to be encouraging, remember her for all she did. She was a wonderful human that did more for people of this world than probably most of the Christian's in the US put together (probably..a little extreme but you get the point).

    One she was "human", just like us. Two, she saw the worst of the world and fairly frequently, which had to be utterly frustrating. And 3, if we can learn anything from this it is this, we need to change the way we "do our faith". Within many faith communities there is pressure to put on the "mask". We hide our genuine selves many times for many reasons. One of the big reasons is that "struggle and questions" are not acceptable in many communities. Sure we say they are, but are they really? As soon as one admits struggle or lack of faith, someone either debates with you, prays for you, tries to convince you otherwise, but are usually deep down they are "concerned for where that will lead", distancing themselves from you etc. etc.

    She obviously felt she had to "wear that mask". It's unfortunate that the letters were released in the sense that I think it goes over a personal boundary. However, I would hope that good will come from it also. That we embrace the hard, the struggle, understand our humanness, take the masks off, and be less robotic. I venture to guess that this story will be a relief for those who "never feel the connection" and don't get why others do. I know many, myself included that have never "really" felt God speaking no matter how hard I searched, and felt sad that so many around did.

    I am sure this will have many different sides, and I am again sorry for the emotion it evoked within. I hope you find peace within the thought process.

  • At 8/23/2007 04:35:00 PM, Blogger Heather

    Hi. :)

    I came here from another blog, and just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying the posts.

    Rachel --

    I sympathize with what you're doing through. I think part of your emotional reaction is compounded by the fact that while you were struggling with this, your brother didn't try and help you through it, but rather "attacked."

    Michele --

    I think you're making a good point with the concept of the mask. I wonder if this story would've had as much of an impact if Mother Teresa could've shared some of this while alive. I do think that due to her popularity, she wasn't allowed to be human, because then she would've "failed," if that makes any sense. So in a funny way, I kind of wonder if the world bears some responsiblity for this, in putting certain standards on her? (I'm not saying that we are to blame, or anyone is to blame).

  • At 8/23/2007 07:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    It's important to remember that this is not really news. The book, reproducing the material it does, is, but there have been hints of this for years, from things her spiritual director said, and so on.

    The other thing to remember is that the Vatican, in charge of canonizing saints, pours over everything related to that person. So, in this case, Mother Teresa's cause was introduced probably 9 years ago, and the offices in the Curia that are in charge of canonization have this material. Mother Teresa is beatified - that is one step away from sainthood, which means that she is essentially recognized as a saint by the church, but we await one more miracle due to her intercession to confirm her presence in heaven with God.

    Okay, that was too much - but the point was - if the Church knows of her doubts, which it does, and still considers her a saint - that tells us something very interesting about the Catholic view of holiness, and about Mother Teresa herself.

    Y'all might want to read St. John of the Cross, as well as some of the other great mystics who spoke of periods of "dryness."

    God bless!

  • At 8/23/2007 07:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Oh, and for Heather's comment - I would think that Mother Teresa believed that serving Christ through the poor was the most important thing she could "say" and something that we should all listen to.

  • At 8/24/2007 10:26:00 AM, Blogger Meg

    I just finished reading How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins, ( I know, I'm a little late when it comes to the book discussions), but as soon as I saw this story about MT on the news, I immediately thought of Rollins books.

    "Instead the believer should acknowledge and celebrate the dark night of the soul, understanding that this is not a threatening darkness which conceals an enemy but rather is the intimate darkness within which we embrace our faith. For when we can say that we will follow God regardless of the uncertainty in-volved in such a decision, the real faith is born-for love acts not whenever a certain set of criteria has been met, but rather because it is in the nature of love to act" pg 35.

    MT's darkness to me is a wonderful picture of a woman who knew, despite all her doubts, the there was a truth there and followed it despite the darkness out in front of her. All the wonderful things she said, even though inside her mind veiled in darkness, were said out of a faith strong enough to walk even in the dark.

    I find it a beautiful, inspiring story, as I walk a path right now in that same darkness, questioning, unable to pray.

    While my life does not even come close to the sacrifice that MT made, I find myself encouraged by the darkness she walked in for so long.

    One more quote from Rollins: " To decide for marriage knowing that all manner of things may conspire against the union is to make a truely daring and authentic decision- the only type of decision worthy of the name. Here we can see thata doubt provides the context out of which real decision occurs and real love is tested, for love will say "yes" regardless of uncertainty. A love that requires contracts and absolute assurance in order to act is no love at all." pg 34

  • At 8/24/2007 08:29:00 PM, Anonymous Rachel

    Thanks for all your beautiful insights, sisters. I'm feeling much better about this after reading your thoughts and taking time to process it.

  • At 8/25/2007 09:14:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    I'm a bit late to the conversation, but for quite a while there was a part of me that thought that "spiritual giants" like Mother Theresa much have some sort of knowledge or deep-rooted faith that I simply couldn't/can't access.

    Having serious doubts never seemed like something a "real" Christians would do...or if they did doubt, I sort of expected to hear that they were quickly and neatly tied up.

    I think I was wrong about this.


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