Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    The Doubts of a Saint

    Almost four years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Southern India and spend a month visiting various churches, seminaries, villages, and cities. After recovering from my initial acute culture shock (it was the first time I had ever been out of the country and I really did not know what to expect), I fell in love with India. The people, the customs, the food, the smells, the colors—everything in India is so vibrant and alive. For a time, I seriously considered moving to India. I was so serious that in the winter of 2005 (days after the tsunami struck) my wife and I took another trip to India. India resides deep in my heart and writing about such a wonderful country makes me homesick for a place that I have never lived.

    I have never been to Calcutta (the home of Mother Theresa), but I have been to several orphanages and deep in the slums of India. I’ve seen the effects of extreme poverty, sickness, and disease. And so, it is with great admiration, that I have looked, and continue to look, to Mother Theresa for inspiration and guidance.

    So, I was a little surprised when I came across an article in this week’s Time Magazine that reviews a new book about Mother Theresa entitled: Mother Theresa: Come Be My Light. Basically, the book claims that Mother Theresa, while trying always to project a self-image of one who was continually filled by God’s love and presence, had doubts, serious doubts, regarding her faith and believe in God and Jesus Christ. In letters to her spiritual mentor (which she asked that be burned upon her death), one can sense the anguish that she must have felt as she worked with the sick and dying.

    Some argue that such a book will incriminate or obstruct Mother Theresa from being made a saint in the Catholic Church. Others claim that this book will elevate her into a stardom on the same level as Augustine or Thomas Merton.

    Personally, I am unsure of how this book will influence individual’s perception of Mother Theresa. What I do know is that I feel a sense of reassurance, and calmness, to learn that Mother Theresa experienced moments of extreme doubt and anxiety. I think we all, whether we admit it or not, experience moments of disbelief and heartache. Yet, I believe such experiences are not a sign of a lack of faith, but rather a sign that our faith is growing. I believe, and share with my youth, that doubt is the crest of faith. If we’re not asking questions, not thinking, not being challenged then we’re probably not growing.

    I look forward to reading this book and learning more about the life of one who influenced so many. I’m also considering spending a few Sunday’s with my youth examining the lives of saints and the notion that we are all saints in today’s world.