As soon as I heard about the TIME (8-23-07) article, â€œMother Teresaâ€™s Crisis of Faith,â€ I commented to my husband that the publication of her personal letters telling of this decades-long â€œcrisisâ€ might very well become her greatest legacy. Then I read the article, which I discovered included a similar statement from Rev. James Martin, an editor of America, a Jesuit magazine. Speaking of her crisis, he comments: “It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives.â€
The TIME article is taken from Brian Kolodiejchuk, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday, due out next month).
In her private letters (that she asked not be published), Mother Teresa bares her soul, as the following quotes (spread over decades) attest: I call, I cling, I want â€” and there is no One to answer â€” no One on Whom I can cling . . . there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness. . . . What do I labour for? If there be no God â€” there can be no soul â€” if there is no Soul then Jesus â€” You also are not true. . . .I utter words of Community prayers â€” and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give â€” But my prayer of union is not there any longer â€” I no longer pray. . . . Jesus: the Absent One. . . . I have come to love the darkness â€” for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth.
I wish this TIME article would have been published two weeks ago when I flew to Denver to be the speaker at a one-day in-service for most of fifty staff members under the Vice-President of Student Affairs at Colorado Christian University. I was asked to address issues relating to my book, Walking Away from Faith and the very real faith struggle many college students endure.
Iâ€™ve had some great reviews of that book, but its influence pales in comparison to the influence I expect this new book will have. Indeed, I predict it will become a classic in Christian literature. No one, dead or alive, has a platform like Mother Teresa does when it comes to sacrifice and service and spirituality. People around the world will read her words and will come away with a new understanding of doubt and unbelief.
Atheists, of course, have pounced on these letters as proof that even the most spiritual saint canâ€™t really believe in God. But that is not the message we should take away. This book will reveal that there is a deep Christian spirituality that includes doubt and darkness and unbelief. There were times when Mother Teresa was tormented. But it doesnâ€™t have to be that way. We can come to terms with the belief and unbelief that coexists in our lives and know that we are not alone. Our prayer is simple: Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.