Mother Teresa’s dark night of the soul is being used against the faithful in news reports.
Time Magazine clearly is going for shock value in its opening paragraphs by discussing her speaking publicly about Christ and following it with this as if to prove Mother Teresa was somehow lying about her faith:
Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.”
The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama. Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction — that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.
There, of course, is no contradiction here; only misunderstanding by the Ordinary Ministers of the Media.
St. John of the Cross talked extensively about the “dark night of the soul.” Other saints do as well discuss similar emotions.
All day long I’ve been seeing reports from CNN and Fox News that Mother Teresa was practically a closet atheist. Blogs I’ve read have gone even further. I will read the book and not make any conclusions based on Time Magazine’s thoughts on Mother Teresa.
In thinking about Mother Teresa I have one thought. I would imagine it must be so difficult to clearly hear the voice of God calling you early in life to do something like give up everything you know and serve the poorest of the poor and then to feel nothing. It must be terrible. Her perseverance is a testimony of faith that I think in the end will prove more inspiring.
But in the meantime be prepared for every media outlet and every enemy of the Church to use Mother Teresa’s doubts against the faith she gave her life to.