The news that Mother Teresa – Blessed Mother Teresa, that is – struggled with doubts, fears, and went years without comfort from the God she so faithfully proclaimed has been discussed here and there since some of her correspondence with her spiritual director came to light (this happened as part of the cause for her canonization). I’ve heard Fr. Benedict Groeschel (founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and friend of Blessed Mother Teresa) talk on the topic occasionally, among others.
In short, it appears that Blessed Mother Teresa fought the demons of doubt and fear while being unable to count on any emotional comfort from God for most of her high-profile public ministry. In one sense not too surprising, given the grinding, nearly relentless evil that she and her sisters confronted (actually still confront) daily for oh so many years, yet in another sense almost shocking. After all, THIS IS MOTHER TERESA, arguably one of the holiest, perhaps even the holiest female public figure of the last century.
This is the Mother Teresa who always counseled joy, a smile, care for the poor, the dignity of man, the miracle of all the living, from conception to natural death, the remarkable woman who was simply “a pencil in the hand of God”.
How could she doubt? Was her public faith all a deception, or was this compelling evidence of her frail humanity and clear evidence of a heroic interior life?
Now the profile of that discussion is going way, way up, as the result of the imminent publication of what looks to be a remarkable book, “Come Be My Light … The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta” by Mother Teresa and Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.
Fr. Kolodiejchuk ought to know, after all – he’s the postulator in her cause for canonization. (That is, he’s basically leading the charge to make the best case possible for declaring her a saint, a task which by all accounts appears to be a very laborious one indeed).
In any case this book contains many of the very letters in which Blessed Mother Teresa expresses some of her gravest doubts, at the very moments in which she was making some of her most profound public statements, doing some of her most visible acts of charity for the poor and rejected. There is also what appears to be a good overview article from Time (yup, that is actually what I meant to say!).
Though I have not yet read the book (it is most definitely on order) I am sure what will emerge is a more complete picture of one of the spiritual giants of our age, shedding some light on the depth of her spirituality and the price she paid for her faith.
In the end, that is really the question for all of us – in who or what do we have faith, and what price are we willing to pay for that faith?