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Friday, August 24, 2007
(1:35 PM) | Stephen:
Mother Teresa's Crisis Of Faith

Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
These words were the foundation of my theology and pastoral ministry for many years. Despite all my education, training and experiences, I was convinced that God loved everyone in the world except for me.

It's shocking - at first - to see that these words were written by none other than Mother Teresa, in a letter to a priest in 1979. But after reading the article with its many quotes from Mother Teresa's letters, the shock wears off and is replaced by a dreary familiarity with her lifelong struggle to experience the presence and love of God, her insistence upon believing the worst about herself and punishing herself because of it.

Armchair diagnoses are to be avoided, but clearly Mother Teresa's problems had little to do with any real problems of faith and pretty much everything to do with Clinical Depression. It's hardly unusual for a depressive to seek a helping profession, to try and find redemption and feeling within the work of assisting the poor and sick. If not for my depression I doubt I would have ever entertained the idea of being a pastor, of going to seminary. Perhaps if Mother Teresa had been psychologically healthy she would have remained Agnes Bojaxhiu.

This teaches us many things, that even saints can suffer and be sick. That however strong something like depression can be, it is possible to be stronger. Human beings are remarkable creatures, capable of great things even in the face of tremendous handicaps. Mother Teresa was able to accomplish great things in spite of - and in some ways because of - her problems. As a person of faith I can recognize that this is evidence of redemption, of God's creative nature and his ability to work with us rather than requiring unrealistic levels of holiness before blessing our efforts. I suspect that Mother Teresa understood this as well, even if she never felt like she did.

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