I just finished reading the article The Secret Life of
Mother Teresa , the cover story of Time magazine
of September 3rd, 2007 written by David Van Biena
based on Mother Teresa’s letters published posthumously in
the book titled Mother Teresa…Come Be My Light.
After reading the article and excerpts from her letters my
impression is that in Mother Teresa’s life Heavenly Father
was conspicuous by His absence. She experienced a mysterious
darkness in her soul and a painful emptiness in her heart as
she could have no communication with God most of her life.
She felt abandoned and rejected. Being a Catholic nun she
had accepted Jesus as her spouse. She remained faithful to
her spiritual spouse although the spiritual marriage was not
consummated. She remained celibate physically, emotionally
and spiritually. It shows how committed and dedicated she
Being a Catholic she believed in suffering.
Alongside physical and emotional suffering, spiritual
suffering was part of her suffering to become a saint. I am
impressed that she was honest to herself and her confessors,
who were like her psychotherapists, about the emptiness in
her heart and darkness in her soul. She might have craved
that human emotional and romantic touch that she never had
being a nun.
Mother Teresa’s suffering was a mixed blessing, a
curse for her but a blessing for humanity. She served the
suffering humanity by serving the poor and the disabled and
the hungry men and women of Calcutta as she saw Christ in
their faces. In her mind by serving them she was serving
Christ. She brought the dying men and women home and nursed
them till their death as she did not want human beings to
die alone. She filled other people’s lives with peace in
spite of the emptiness of her own soul.
I found it interesting that she did not want her
letters to be published as they were private, like
confessions to a therapist, but her confessors and disciples
did not respect her wishes. She did not want her admirers to
doubt her sincerity or her mission to suffer. She did not
know that her letters might be a testimony of doubt in a
saint’s heart that would make her personality more
realistic. She did not know that her admirers might love and
cherish her more for her honesty and candidness. I have no
idea about other admirers but I love her more after reading
these letters. She was honest to acknowledge that God did
not exist in her heart and wondered whether God was a myth
and a metaphor rather than a concrete reality that could be
experienced with our senses.. Being a nun and a Nobel Prize
winner she could not share those doubts publicly and had to
lead a double life.
I hope there are more believers that could be
honest like Mother Teresa and keep on serving humanity in
spite of their doubts in their religion and God. Jean Paul
Sartre, the existentialist philosopher, said that we do not
need to believe in God to love our neighbor.
For me it was a fascinating read and it inspired
me to order the book and read all the letters of Mother
Teresa. She was a saint who became a beacon of light for
suffering humanity in spite of her own inner darkness.