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Lloyd Waters: Mother Teresa, a saint with doubts?

September 01, 2013|By LLOYD WATERS

“Where is my faith? Even deep down there is nothing but emptiness and darkness. What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul, then Jesus you are not true.”

Strange words indeed coming from the pen of Mother Teresa.  Although she is headed for sainthood in the Catholic Church, those words contained in her composed letters throughout her life suggest some serious doubts in regard to her faith.

Mother Teresa has always been a person I most admired for a lot of different reasons. Her story is one of profound service to other human beings.

How is it that she came to the end of her life and had the same question that so many seem to ask when hope seems so elusive and there is no Calvary coming over the hill to save the day and restore some sort of redemption for mankind?

Mother Teresa’s story is one which is most interesting. And it’s one worth telling.

Mother Teresa was born Aug. 26, 1910. Her father died when she was young and her mother, who always looked out for the destitute, once shared this advice with her: “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others.” 

Examples of this nature had a lasting impact on the girl.

As a young Albanian girl, she sang in the choir, and at the age of 12 had her first calling to a religious life. Six years later, she became a Catholic nun, and while on a trip to Ireland took the name Sister Mary Teresa.

A year later, she found herself in India, and on May 24, 1936, she took her vow to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience.

On Sept. 10, 1946, Mother Teresa had a second calling.  While on a train to the Himalayan foothills, she said that Christ had spoken to her and told her to go to work in the slums of Calcutta to aid the poorest and sickest people. Christ wanted someone to be “my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying and the little children,” according to Mother Teresa.

Why a small and poor woman of the world herself in 1946 would commit to such a life of misery and burden at the beckoning of a voice seems a little odd, doesn’t it?

Why did she do it? I suppose it was a simple act of her faith.

Why would she have such doubts about that same faith years later?

When life becomes most hopeless, I suspect doubt always has a tendency to show up at one’s door. Mother Teresa, while dealing with the poorest of the poor and the most extreme suffering of the world, daily saw little hope in the tomorrows of life.

These experiences would certainly test one’s faith like never before. Those doubts of that faith are shared in her letters.

Her life, however, is a testament of love for all humanity. That amount of love sets her apart from most people in the world.

Because she lived, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, nursing home and a family clinic. Her legacy remains throughout the world today.   

On Dec. 11, 1979, she walked in her sandals in zero-degree weather to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The world paused for a brief moment to capture the essence of Mother Teresa.

I suspect some might think she was a fraud of sorts. For sure, she will soon become a saint in the Catholic Church.

She was indeed special.

She once described her life simply:

“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.”

And so she was.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.



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