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Was Mother Teresa living a lie to achieve immortality as a saint?
by Graeme J. Davidson,
22 September 2007

"People say they are drawn close to God – seeing my strong faith. Is this not deceiving people? Every time I have wanted to tell the truth – that I have no faith the words just do not come."

... Why did Mother Teresa stay a Christian nun? After all, we’ve learnt from her recently released letters to spiritual advisers that the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, beatified and declared “Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta” by Pope John Paul II, thought God had gone into hibernation. Has this thrown speed-spikes in front of her whirlwind ride to sainthood?
... Mother Teresa was the Vatican’s poster person. She condemned abortion, worked tirelessly for the poor and dying, established the now 5500-member Missionaries of Charity and produced poignant theological sound bites: “We are all pencils in the hand of God”, “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody”, “Faith and prayer is the connection with God, and when that is there, there is service”.
... When I visited the poor of Calcutta as part of a humanitarian relief team in the early 1970s, they adored their “saint of the gutters”. She certainly served the poor, but was she connected to God?
... In one of her private letters, published in Mother Teresa: Come be my light, on the tenth anniversary of her death this month, she wrote, "People say they are drawn close to God – seeing my strong faith. Is this not deceiving people? Every time I have wanted to tell the truth – that I have no faith the words just do not come."

... So, was Mother Teresa living a lie in the hope of gaining immortality as one of the approximately 3000 saints of the Roman Catholic Church?
... In 1946, the then Sister Teresa says she heard a call from Jesus to serve the poorest of the poor. Yet, even though she remained faithful, she never heard from him again. It was like living on the memory of a loved one you’ve glimpsed once. Jewish theologian, Martin Buber, called this type of experience “'Eclipse of the light of heaven, eclipse of God” because God seems to disappear.
... That assumes there is a heavenly experience to eclipse. Could Mother Teresa have been deluded?
... Roman Catholic Archbishop Lucas Sirkar of Calcutta told Evangelical News International last week, "Those who are questioning the faith of the Mother have no idea of what is spiritual life. The more you move forward in the path to saintliness or holiness, the more you have to struggle against that which is not holy." Sister Nirmala, Mother Teresa's successor and superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, added that what Mother Teresa went through is “A trial few souls go through. The light is so strong and the human capacity is so less. What happens when you look at the blazing sun? You are blinded. It’s like that."
... Whether it’s like an eclipse or being blinded, many devout and saintly people feel God has deserted them. The ancient Jewish prayer songs, the Psalms, are full of such allusions and Jesus utters one of these psalms questioning why God has forsaken him as he dies on the cross.
... The sixteenth century Spanish poet and mystic, St John of the Cross, goes further. He advises deliberately casting aside bodily pleasures and desires and emptying ourselves of spiritual feelings and thoughts – “the dark night of the soul”. Instead, he says, we must “lean upon dark faith, taking it for guide and light”. He explains how this period of dark faith is a painful time of apprehension and despair when God is purifying us so we might be ready for a new life in union with him.
... St Teresa of Avila, the sixteenth century mystic and friend of St John, went through 18 years of emptiness before her “soul was full of light”, while the most widely read spiritual writer, Trappist monk Thomas Merton, prayed, “I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.”
... Mother Teresa knew St John’s writings. The only problem was she spent the last six decades of her life leaning upon dark faith without gaining the spiritual union with the divine that St John promises.
... This is in sharp contrast to those religious groups that seek “the dazzling day of the soul” with warm spiritual fuzzies, consolations and instant signs of the divine through amazing answers to prayer, including health, happiness and prosperity, which can leave followers easily disappointed and ready to discard their faith at the first sign of the eclipse of God.


 

 

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