Faithful to Christ Despite Doubts

It neither makes me think less, nor more of Mother Teresa that she doubted. It does, however, remind me of … Continued

It neither makes me think less, nor more of Mother Teresa that she doubted. It does, however, remind me of the integrity of her commitment — her fidelity or, yes, faithfulness — to a life oriented to God, even the imitation of Christ. Indeed, the discovery that Mother Teresa sometimes doubted and despaired may be best understood as a necessary dimension of that imitation and the “taking up of [her] cross,” as the Gospels describe discipleship. It was, after all, Christ who exclaimed on his cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In these words, lament is joined to Christian faith and informs the command to “endure to the end.”

In her experience of being called, Mother Teresa said, she knew the joy and, at least in that moment we can assume, the certainty of God’s immanence. Furthermore, such experiences of immediacy or visions did not end with her call, we are told. It should not surprise us, then, that she leaves also a record of what it felt like to come down from these mountains and to experience the absence of what had been so present. More, it is difficult to imagine that, in the slums of Calcutta among the world’s most abandoned, she could have avoided feeling abandoned herself. Or, as she puts it, in the soon-to-be-published letters: “I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.” This, too, was consistent with the divine life she sought to imitate: an identity with those she served in order to serve them.

Latter-day Saint scripture provides that Christ took “upon him [humanity’s] infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” This suggests that his disciples’ capacity to succor the infirm must also derive from experience, not merely empathy. So, for me, that Mother Teresa continued to long for God as she labored in the soul-alienating slums of Calcutta signifies the genuineness of her faith in God and the explanation for her unfailing response to God’s demand for sacrificial action and disciplined endurance. It is, ultimately, a means of her imitation of Christ.

The new discoveries of Mother Teresa’s longing for God, when coupled with her manifest practice of the other classic Christian virtues of hope and charity, give a more convincing testimony to her faith commitments than any expression of intellectual certainty or dogmatic clarity ever could. She wrote her doubts and expressed her deepest longings, as so many of us do, in private moments. She lived her certainties publicly, however, in an extraordinary display of sacrifice of all that she was and had in imitation of the divine life she adored. This is why she is and will remain an exemplar of Christian faith.

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  • Henry James

    An Evil God?Yes, we realize that one usually has faith and doubt co-existing in our human hearts.”I have faith that I will win the Nobel Prize. I doubt that I will win the Nobel Prize” is the most human of vacillations.Of course, this fact regarding faith in God says *nothing* about whether God actually exists, or, if She does, which of the many choices She really is (Krishna, Allah, etc).What Theresa realized at many levels is that, as a Catholic, she had faith in an omnipotent, omniscient God who allowed the vast unwarranted human suffering that she encountered on the streets of Calcutta. Did her faith in a God of Evil waver? Wouldn’t all of ours?Many can’t reconcile the hypothesis that such a God exists with the reality they see in the Calcutta’s of that God’s world.

  • Thomas Baum

    Evil does exist only people with their heads buried in the sand so to speak would acknowledge otherwise. Jesus, Himself, told us that satan is the prince of this world. Mother Teresa had a calling within a calling to go to the poorest of the poor and do what she could, I think she did what God called her to do very well and despite feeling abandoned by God she carried on. I would say that could speak volumes if you have a heart to let it sink into. I have been chosen by God and in a dream I was told, “Only you can say it”, I had no idea what that could be. This happened after I had met God, the whole Trinity, and had met satan and had experienced hell and spiritual death but when I had the dream I had no idea what it was I was to say. These events happened in 2000 and since I know who I am and what my job is, I don’t know how to do it so I am just doing it. I use these posting as a tool to do what I have been chosen for. God is Love, Pure Love and Jesus is God Incarnate, as a matter of fact Jesus is the only person that has ever chosen to be a person. Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide us into all Truth and I definitely am counting on the Holy Spirit to keep guiding me. God’s Plan is for all of His children to be with Him in the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Love, whatever you wish to call it, the names are interchangeable since “GOD IS LOVE” is a literal statement, He is a being of Love. Calling yourself a christian doesn’t mean you are one since God is a searcher of hearts and minds not of religious affiliations or lack thereof. They call this an on-faith site and I for one think that it takes a great deal of faith to believe that the whole universe is nothing but a fluke, a chance happening, that by pure chance everything fell into place and that ultimately it is totally meaningless, but I suppose you have to put your faith into something even if it adds up to nothing. Jesus said, “Judge not lest ye be judged”, He also said, “The measure you judge with will be the measure that you are judged with” very interesting statements considering some of the vile judgementalisms that appear on various sites on these postings. Jesus wasn’t kidding and some of the vilest have been sent in by people claiming to be christian. By the way: God wins, satan loses, a tie is unacceptable. The message is simple, living it is not always easy, the example of Mother Teresa’s inner life and life in Calcutta can be an example but that was her life to live. We all have our own life to live, so many people seem to want to tell others how to live rather than looking at how they are living their own lives. Be ready, take care. See you all in the Kingdom. Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • E favorite

    Hello, Kathleen, when you say, “She wrote her doubts and expressed her deepest longings, as so many of us do, in private moments. She lived her certainties publicly, however, in an extraordinary display of sacrifice of all that she was and had in imitation of the divine life she adored.”do you mean, she was a hypocrite?

  • Todd Wood

    “the certainty of God’s immanence”That is an attribute just as worthy for meditation as God’s transcendence.

  • Tim H

    Christians often stress that the being Christian is more than following a set of rules or principles. Instead it is about having a ‘relationship’ with Christ. Is it a relationship if one side is silent? Does Mother Teresa’s experience suggest that a ‘relationship’ with Christ is not something that Christians should expect?

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