The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist."Via Metafilter, where the comments include:
That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'" Says the Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America and the author of My Life with the Saints, a book that dealt with far briefer reports in 2003 of Teresa's doubts: "I've never read a saint's life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented." Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light's editor: "I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa's Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her."
My view: Mother Teresa saw the reality of life more intimately than nearly anyone who has ever lived; she saw no kind and benevolent God because it doesn't exist. Kindness and benevolence comes from us, not an invisible superhero in the sky, and there wasn't much of it to be found toward her chosen charges....IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O:
[Another commenter:] In the hospital she ran, patients dying of cancer were offered aspirin instead of morphine and were told to offer up the pain to God. Dying patients were baptized regardless of what their religion was. Mother Teresa got a donation from one of the men involved in the Lloyd's of London mess and would not return it despite knowing that it was stolen money. Instead she told the victims to forgive the people responsible for the theft. She was fanatically opposed to birth control. She turned every donation her hospital got over to the Vatican - meanwhile, her hospital was criminally undersupplied. If Mother Teresa didn't believe in God anymore, what was her excuse for maintaining the Catholic line?...
[Another:] [A]s Hitchens documents, she didn't work selflessly for mankind. She was a sick, twisted suffering fetishist who raised millions of dollars that were split between building more places to die (and that's literal- the "shelters" she built are horrible hellholes) and the Vatican coffers and cavorted with dictators. She was a horrible individual, and her veneration is a symbol of all that's wrong with the Church and all that's wrong with modern humanity.
She didn't see God. But she saw God in others. And those others knew it.Original Mike:
That she did what she did with all those inner doubts makes her all the more saintly.