Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mother Teresa, Disappointed in Love

So Mother Teresa, it turns out, was tortured by doubts about God's existence. After a plateau of high feeling and communion with God, in 1946 and 1947, when she heard Him inviting her to serve him, heard Him plain as day, she never heard God's voice again. Through those long decades afterward, while she toiled tirelessly in his name, she felt nothing at all, just a dark hole in heart where God had been. At times she wondered if possibly she had sacrificed her life for nothing at all.

In considering these astonishing facts, revealed in a new collection of her letters to friends and confessors, the Vatican (which itself released the book) has this explanation: the searing abandonment this little Albanian nun felt was like the cry of abandonment Jesus himself proclaimed from the cross - that's how close she was to him. She was so close she couldn't see him or hear him as a separate presence; instead she lived inside him, feeling his pain as her own.

Possibly. But then, the Vatican has to rationalize the jarring disconnect between her professed faith and her actual faith somehow, doesn't it?

Personally, this is what I think: I love religion and can't quite cleanse my system of it. It has everything - beauty, mystery, ritual, community. Participating in communal worship can feel beautiful and perfectly, absolutely right. Yet I know - because it's plain as day - that religion is man's instrument, reflecting at all times and in all cultures the will of the people themselves, expressing their own fears and prejudices and most passionate desires. And that makes it not a thing of God at all, but just another creation of ours, designed to serve and exalt ... us. And that makes religion utterly unreliable as a divine mechanism of justice or even as code of rules. Lonely, indeed. That's what this news about Mother Teresa makes me feel.

I've spent many years in church, and for a long time considered religion the very best thing in my life. But .... but. Poor Mother Teresa. A venerated soon-to-be-saint, to be sure. But also a pitiful, dejected woman, disappointed in her one and only love affair.

1 comment:

NUREG said...

Well said. I agree.

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