Mother Teresa’s Dark Night

From the NYT, an article on the newly-revealed decades-long belief crisis suffered by none other than Mother Teresa, who in her last days seems to have no longer been a God-believer:

A Saint’s Dark Night

Published: August 29, 2007

Mother Teresa, the woman widely known in her lifetime as a “living saint,” apparently didn’t even believe in God.

***

Useful information against those who mindlessly assert that atheists (and, I suppose, agnostics as well) feel no moral obligations because they have no God.

7 responses to “Mother Teresa’s Dark Night

  1. Well, just to be clear….That comment “apparently didn’t believe in God” was part of a short paragraph that talked about what atheists would say. That is, that atheists and agnostics would use her letters to prove her atheism or agnosticism. But later in the piece I point out that this is a false reading of her. What is going on instead is the “dark night” of the soul, as described by St. John of the Cross, where one believes in God, but simply doesn’t feel his presence. If Mother Teresa had truly doubted God’s presence in a definitive way she would have left her work. Instead she remained, at least as I see it, heroically faithful to her original call. Anyway, just to clear that up a bit. Thanks for your posting!

  2. Mother Teresa had her dark nights, I’m sure. But I agree with James that Teresa and John were leading similarly mystical lives and having the passionate doubt that accompanies wholesale dedication to anything.

    It’s good that the NYT invokes St. John really. Anyone who’s read the book or knows the story will see it in the context of the sainthood of Mother Teresa.

  3. Father Martin,

    “Well, just to be clear….That comment “apparently didn’t believe in God” was part of a short paragraph that talked about what atheists would say.”

    I understand. And it wasn’t my intent to pervert the meaning behind your your article, which clearly states that even in the depth of her unbelief, Mother Teresa “paradoxically” found comfort in believing that her struggles helped her to understand Christ’s feelings of abandonment, and the abandonment felt by the people she ministered to.

    This phrase:

    Mother Teresa, the woman widely known in her lifetime as a “living saint,” apparently didn’t even believe in God.

    however questionable, was generated by the NYT when I clicked the “share” link to make a blog-able permalink. It was, however, my choice to use it in my blog entry.

    And as a recovering atheist and current agnostic, I welcome the awareness of Mother Teresa’s lengthy and agonizing crisis of faith as an example of a person without faith who is still capable of a deep and abiding morality.

    BTW you are both to be commended for kindly refraining from correcting my horrid typo, “Mother Thersa.” Thank you, gentlemen.

  4. “If Mother Teresa had truly doubted God’s presence in a definitive way she would have left her work”

    I would take issue with this. If someone devotes their life to easing the suffering of others why would she suddenly abandon that life because she realized that she was an atheist? Whether one believes in a god(s) has no barring on their morality; in fact there are nearly endless examples of people “doing God’s work” by way of slaughter, genocide and persecution.

  5. I tend to agree with Shadmarsh. To imply that Mother Theresa labored only because of external compulsion and not out of her own morals, ethics, and charity cheapens her memory, in my opinion.

  6. Sokath, his eyes uncovered

  7. Jalad and I at Tanagra!

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