I don’t get it.
I read the lengthy article in last Sunday’s paper about Mother Teresa. How she felt the absence of Christ in her life though what she wanted most was to feel his presence…about her “dark night of the soul.”
I read it and I thought, “Wow. Who knew? Poor thing. How incredibly hard that must have been for her.” And I thought briefly about my own petty struggles and how puny they are compared to the struggles of this great woman. And I said a little prayer of thanks to God because by his great mercy, I have not known this struggle – I mean REALLY known it…not like she did. And then I said a little prayer of thanks to God for Mother Teresa, whose faith was certainly much sturdier than my own, whether or not she perceived it. And I thanked God for all of the good she did in this world and for her witness.
Then that was it. I put the paper down and got ready for church and pretty much forgot about Mother Teresa until yesterday.
A lengthy visit to the blogosphere last night got me to reading about this “new” revelation about Mother Teresa – and I read lots of stuff out there about her and about the media hype over her spiritual struggles. I read views from the sites and blogs of Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox and Lutherans which I check from time to time. And at the end of the evening I was fairly horrified – nauseated, really.
Now granted, I don’t know much about Mother Teresa. What I know can be summarized in very few words: She was a Roman Catholic nun. She spent her life in service to the Church, doing great works of mercy among the poorest of the world’s poor … doing the work to which all Christians are called but which most Christians (including me) fail miserably at. She is listed among those who are commemorated at Sunday liturgies in my former tradition (Sadly, this isn’t saying much. Here she joins the ranks of others like “Katherine Von Bora Luther, Renewer of the Church” - I don’t understand how Katie Luther renewed even the Lutheran Church - though I could maybe see how she renewed Martin. When I asked my former pastor about her commemoration, he just admitted that she really didn’t do much renewing of the church at all but that the Lutheran Church’s Commemorations Committee probably felt a need to get a few more women on that list for gender balance, and they were grasping at straws. But this is a different sort of rant for another day – or not). Anyway, that’s about it – that’s about all that I knew about Mother Teresa.
So what I am struggling with is to read how under attack this poor woman has been this week by representatives from all walks of Christianity (including the Orthodox). She is accused of trying to buy her salvation with good works, of considering herself to be above St. Paul and even the Virgin Mary, that her works of mercy could not possibly have been done out of love for God and her fellow man, that her faith was empty and useless, that she was a hypocrite, that she chose substandard confessors, and several other things which the rest of us are, of course, way above. Then the attacks turn to her confessors …
It made me sick.
What right does any Christian have to judge her? Or her confessors? (or anyone, for that matter). Christ himself asked from the cross why God had forsaken him – Jesus Christ - who IS God! Why would we hold a mortal woman to some higher standard than that of perfection? To a standard higher than Christ? Who the hell do we think we are?
If we presume to even think we have something to say about Mother Teresa, perhaps we’d best not say it until after we’ve spent a lifetime in the slums of India – or maybe just one day in the slums of our own city – or even an hour in the silent, invisible slums of our American suburbs.
How dare any Christian even open their mouth to comment on the life and faith of this woman that NONE of us knew personally? I really don’t get it – at all.
If we are really concerned about Mother Teresa and her salvation (and not just concerned with making some example of poor faith of her), we should all put down our stones, shut up, and pray for her.
Better yet, we should let God worry about Mother Teresa’s salvation and start worrying about our own.
Lord have mercy.