Skip to comments.Mother Teresa Did Not Feel Christ's Presence for Last Half of Her Life, Letters Reveal
Posted on 08/24/2007 8:40:01 AM PDT by HarleyD
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who has been put on the fast track to sainthood, was so tormented by doubts about her faith that she felt a hypocrite, it has emerged from a book of her letters to friends and confessors. Shortly after beginning her work in the slums of Calcutta, she wrote: Where is my faith? Even deep down there is nothing but emptiness and darkness. If there be a God please forgive me. In letters eight years later she was still expressing such deep longing for God, adding that she felt repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal. Her smile to the world from her familiar weather-beaten face was a mask or a cloak, she said. What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true. Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 and was beatified in record time only six years later, felt abandoned by God from the very start of the work that made her a global figure, in her sandals and blue and white sari. The doubts persisted until her death.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
The fact that she continued doing her good works are evidence she did have faith.
I don’t see what is so unusual about anyone having doubts, off and on. There are periods of light and periods of darkness because we’re human and until we see Him face to face, doubts are part of the “test”.
Mother Theresa was a wonderful servant of God, but she was also human. We all have ebbs and flows in our feelings. Thank God that He has promised He will never leave us or forsake us (not matter how we are feeling).
The bible is full of examples of people who questioned or doubted God.
The letters that she left behind indicates that she had doubt half her life, not off and on with periods of lights and darkness. Whatever our emotions are at any time, we rest in God’s faithful promises, not in what we feel.
And God had a lot of things to say to those doubters.
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."Romans 10:17
Mother Teresa's letter are a classic example of a charism given by our Lord to several saints. Here is the writing of St. Faustina. (note red text are words of our Lord).
Periods of Darkness
|Toward the first year of my novitiate, darkness began to case its shadow over my soul. I felt no consolation in prayer; I had to make a great effort to meditate; fear began to sweep over me. Going deeper into myself, I could find nothing but great misery. I could also clearly see the great holiness of God. I did not dare to raise my eyes to Him, but reduced myself to dust under His feet and begged for mercy. My soul was in this state for almost six months.(23)|
|The heaviest suffering for me was that it seemed to me that neither my prayers nor my good works were pleasing to God... greater darkness hid God from me... A saintly priest wanted to help me, but I was so miserable that I couldn't even define my trouble, and that vexed me even more. A deathly sadness penetrated my soul to such an extent that I was unable to hide it... I lost hope. The night was growing darker and darker. The priest to whom I went to confession said to me....that in my present situation I was more pleasing to God than if I were filled with the greatest consolations. "It is a very great grace, Sister" he told me, "that in your present condition, with all the torments you are experiencing, you not only do not offend God, but you even try to practice virtues. I am looking into youth soul, and I see God's great plans and special graces there; and seeing this, I give thanks to the Lord." but despite all that, my soul was in a state of torture; and in the midst of unspeakable torments, I imitated the blind man who entrusts himself to his guide. holding his hand firmly, not giving up obedience for a single moment, and this was my only safety in this fiery trial. (68)... When I feel that the suffering is more than I can bear, I take refuge in the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and I speak to Him with profound silence. (73)|
|My mind became dimmed in a strange way; no truth seemed clear to me. When people spoke to me about God, my heart was like a rock. I could not draw from it a single sentiment of love for Him. When I tried, by an act of the will, to remain close to Him, I experienced great torments, and it seemed to me that I was only provoking God to an even greater anger. ... I felt in my soul a great void , and there was nothing with which I could fill it. I began to suffer from a great hunger and yearning for God, but I saw my utter powerlessness. I tried to read slowly, sentence by sentence, and to meditate in this way, but this also was of no avail. (77)|
|he abyss of my misery was constantly before my eyes. Every time I entered the chapel for some spiritual exercise, I experienced even worse torments and temptations. More than once, all through Holy Mass, I had to struggle against blasphemous thoughts which were forcing themselves to my lips. I felt an aversion for the Holy Sacraments, and it seemed to me that I was not profiting from them in any way. It was only out of obedience to my confessor that I frequented them, and this blind obedience was for me the only path I could follow and my very last hope of survival. The priest explained to me that these were trials sent by God and that, in the situation I was in, not only was I not offending God, but I was most pleasing to Him. "This is a sign, " he told me, "that God loves you very much and that He has great confidence in you, since He is sending you such trials." But these words brought me no comfort; it seemed to me that they did not apply to me at all.... [other] thoughts came to me: why strive to acquire virtues and do good works? Why mortify and annihilate yourself? What good is it to take vows? to pray? to sacrifice..? What good is it? (77)|
|Trials sent by God to a soul which is particularly loved by Him. Temptations and darkness; Satan
The soul's love for God is still not such as God would have it. The soul suddenly loses the tangible perception of God's presence. Various defects and imperfections rise up within it, and it must fight them furiously. All her faults lift up their heads, but the soul's vigilance is great. The former awareness of the presence of God gives place to coldness and spiritual dryness; the soul has no taste for spiritual exercises; it cannot pray, either in the old way, or in the manner in which it had just begun to pray. It struggles this way and that, but can find no satisfaction. God has hidden himself from it, and it can find no consolation in creatures, nor can any of these creatures find a way of consoling it. The soul craves passionately for God, but sees its own misery; it begins to sense God's justice; it seems to it that it has lost all the gifts that God had given it; its mind is dimmed, and darkness fills it; unspeakable torment begins. The soul tries to explain its state to the confessor, but it is not understood and is assailed by an even greater unrest. Satan begins his work.
Faith staggers under the impact; the struggle is fierce. The soul tries hard to cling to God by an act of will. With God's permission, Satan goes even further: hope and love are put to the test. These temptations are terrible. God supports the soul in secret, so to speak. The soul is not aware of this, but otherwise it would be impossible to stand firm; and God knows very well how much He can allow to befall a soul. The soul is tempted to unbelief in respect to revealed truths and to insincerity toward the confessor. Satan says to it, "Look, no one understand you; why speak about all this?" Words that terrify it sound in its ears, and it seems to the soul that it is uttering these against God. It sees what it does not want to see. It hears what it does not want to hear.....one should make every effort to find, if it is at all possible, a well-informed confessor....All these trials are heavy and difficult. God does not send them to a soul which has not already been admitted to a deeper intimacy with Him and which has not yet tasted the divine delights. ...... God often prepares a soul in this way for His future designs and great works. He wants to try it as pure gold is tried. But this is not yet the end of the testing; there is still the trial of trials, the complete abandonment of the soul by God. (96 -7)
The Trial of trials, Complete Abandonment - Despair
When the soul comes out victorious from the preceding trials, even though it may stumble here and there, it fights on valiantly, humbly calling upon God, "Save me, I am perishing!" And it is still able to fight on. At this point, however, the soul is engulfed in a horrible night. It sees within itself only sin. It feels terrible. It sees itself completely abandoned by God. It feels itself to be the object of His hatred. It is but one step away from despair....prayer is an even greater torment for it, as this prayer seems to arouse God to an even greater anger. ..The soul is drawn to God, but feels repulsed. All other sufferings and tortures in the world are as nothing compared with this sensation into which it has been plunged; namely, that of being rejected by God. No one can bring it any relief; it finds itself completely alone; there is no one to defend it. It raises its eyes to heaven, but is convinced that this is not for her - for her all is darkness, and it seems to it that it has lost forever the God it used to love so dearly. ...... In the midst of this, the evil spirit adds to the soul's suffering, mocking it: "Will you persist in your faithfulness? This is your reward; you are in our power!" But Satan has only as much influence over the soul as God allows him, and God knows how much we can bear........ The soul no longer looks for help anywhere. It shrinks into itself and loses sight of everything; it is as though it has accepted the torture of being abandoned......This is the agony of the soul..... [Saint Faustina goes on to explain how it ended].
When my soul began to sink into despair, I felt that the end was near. ....... After some time, one of the sisters came into the cell and found me almost dead. She was frightened and went to find the Directress of Novices who.... ordered me to get up...My strength returned immediately , and I got up...[she] recognised .. the state of my soul and spoke to me about the inscrutable mercy of God, saying, "Do not be distressed...I see now... that God is calling you to a high degree of holiness; the Lord wants to draw you very close to Himself since He ahs allowed these things to happen to you so soon. [This] is a sign that He wants you to have a high place in heaven....."When I went into the chapel, I felt as though my soul had been set free from everything, as though I had just come forth from the hand of God. I perceived the inviolability of my soul; I felt that I was a tiny child.
Suddenly I saw the Lord interiorly, and He said to me, Fear not, My daughter; I am with you. In that single moment, all the darkness and torments vanished, my senses were inundated with unspeakable joy, ..the faculties of my soul filled with light. ....What I have written is very poor compared to the reality. I cannot put it in words; it seemed to me that I had come back from the other world. I feel an aversion for everything that is created; I snuggle to the heart of God like a baby to its mother's breast. I see everything differently now..... This is a completely spiritual suffering. (98 - 104)
|My daughter, even though you do not perceive Me in the secret depths of your heart, you still cannot say that I am not there. I only remove from you the awareness of My presence, and that should not be an obstacle to the carrying out of My will. I do this to achieve My unfathomable ends, which you will know of later on. My daughter, know without doubt, and once and for all, that only mortal sin drives Me out of a soul, and nothing else. (1181)|
|My daughter, during the weeks when you neither saw Me nor felt My presence, I was more profoundly united to you than at times [when you experienced] ecstasy. And the faithfulness and fragrance of your prayer have reached Me. (1246)|
|In times of interior desolation I do not lose my peace, because I know that God never abandons a soul.....I am not frightened at all by my apparent abandonment. I examine myself more profoundly to discover whether this is due to my fault. If this is not the case - then may [the Lord] be blessed! (1315)|
|I have remained on earth to comfort your aching heart and to fortify your soul, so that you will not falter on the way. You say that a dense darkness is obscuring your mind. But why, at such times, do you not come to Me, the light who can in an instant pour into your soul more understanding about holiness than can be found in any books? ..Know, too, that the darkness about which you complain I first endured in the Garden of Olives when My Soul was crushed in mortal anguish. I am giving you a share in those sufferings because of My special love for you and in view of the high degree of holiness I am intending for you in Heaven. A suffering soul is closer to My heart. (Jesus to suffering souls - 1487)|
|February 2, 1938. Darkness of the soul. ...The Lord has hidden Himself, and I am alone, all alone. My mind has become so dimmed that I see only phantasies about me. Not a single ray of light penetrates my soul. I do not understand myself or those who speak to me. Frightful temptations regarding the holy faith assail me. O my Jesus, save me. I cannot say anything more. I cannot describe these things in detail...I am astounded that such torments could befall a soul. O hurricane, what are you doing to the boat of my heart?...I spent the whole night with Jesus in Gethsemane. ...So many times have I seen the radiance of Your face, and now, where are You, Lord?... I believe, I believe, and again I believe in You, Triune God...But the darkness does not recede....At that moment I saw Jesus, and from His heart there issued those same two rays, which enveloped me, whole and entire. At the same moment, all my torments vanished. My daughter, the Lord said, know that of yourself you are just what you have gone through, and it is only by My grace that you are a participant of eternal life and all the gifts I lavish on you....Jesus is giving me a lesson in deep humility and at the same time, one of total trust in Him. (1559)|
|But when your mind is dimmed and your sufferings are great , it is then that you take an active part in My Passion and I am conforming you more fully to Myself. It is your task to submit yourself to My will at such times, more than at others...(1697)|
I have a question: after reading your homepage and thinking of what the point is that you may be making about Mother Theresa, is there any way for a person to know whether or not they are among the elect?
All humans have a sinful nature that will cause them to challenge or doubt their faith. In this case, the way she lived proved her faith.
All these letters do is highlight the fact that the idea that you are eternally saved once you declare Christ your Lord is a fiction.
It’s how you live that faith that matters.
And that is the difference. Notice your author's correct conclusion compare to Mother Teresa view.
A personal relationship with YHvH comes from daily reading of the Holy Word of Elohim.shalom b'shem Yah'shua HaMashiach
As you read the Word of Elohim, He speaks to your soul and gives you the assurance
that He has provided for you His salvation. His name alone speaks this as
Yah'shua means "YHvH is become my salvation"
Our good works are like used rags.
We must seek the face of Elohim by reading His Holy Word.NAsbU Exodus 15:2 "YHvH is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
NAsbU Psalm 118:14 YHvH is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
NAsbU Psalm 118:21 I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,
And You have become my salvation.
NAsbU Isaiah 12:2 "Behold, Elohim is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For YHvH Elohim is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation."
NAsbU Isaiah 60:16 ....; Then you will know that I, YHvH, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
NAsbU Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like menstruation rags; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Is this thinking a result of believing in a works based justification that in the end causes you to realize you can't do enough and then in despair question GOD's existence?
It's sad to see she didn't believe in the blessed assurances of JESUS. She had really dedicated herself to trying to help the poor.
The dark despair of no assurance.
That’s the problem with not teaching the All Sufficient Sacrifice of Jesus Christ....not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy HE saved US.
This blog post captures my position exactly. Assurance is grounded in faith in Christ, not in an amount (or lack thereof) of good works.
Reformed and Lordship authors teach that assurance comes through subjective experimentation. This is the reason why R.T. Kendall calls Lordship Calvinists “Experimental Predestinarians”, because one must always be about subjective experimentation to ‘verify’ if one truly has believed, and is saved.
R.T. Kendall and John Calvin, and the Free Grace movement do not believe that the assurance that God wants us to have comes from such experimentation, from looking to oneself, to works, affections, feelings, attitudes, etc. Only ‘anxiety’ and ‘despair’ or pride can come from such an experiment.
Imagine, for a moment, Marcia, that growing up, your dad didn’t give you his objective word that you were indeed his daughter. When you got into trouble he would say, “you have every reason to doubt that you are my daughter, because you are not passing the tests.” What kind of dad would that be?
John MacArthur has stated “You may be a spiritual defector who hasn’t defected yet”
This means that you could be doing awesome now in your walk with God (by your own estimation) but at some time, because you are not one of God’s elect, you will defect and show you were never born again.
Kendall, Calvin, and Free Grace theology teach that the only foundation for assurance is not subjective whatsoever. The only bedrock for assurance is the infallible and objective word of God that promises eternal life to all who believ in Christ for it.
We must not look to ourselves for assurance.
We must look only to Christ in His objective promise, and only then can we have the kind of assurance God wants us to have — not some kind of ‘think so’ feeling, but certain, persuaded assurance.
Note, that Paul said those words at the very end of his life, as he awaited execution, after he had “finished his course”. In other places he warned against being too confident “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”. In fact, the text where Paul says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ...” really proves the OPPOSITE of eternal security. Implicit in that statement is the idea that some will not fight the fight to the end, will not finish the race, will not keep the faith till the end. But Paul, having reached the end, awaiting death, knew that he had in fact persevered. He did not do his victory dance till he reached the end of the race, unlike many eternal security folks who are doing it halfway through the first lap! No one of us is entitled in the middle of the race to apply St. Paul’s words “I have finished the course” to himself as if they proved that he himself could not possibly not falter or backslide.
Anyway, none of this has any relevance to Mother Teresa. Her “dryness” and experience of God’s absence lasted for many years, not merely intermittently. But that does NOT mean that her doubts of God’s existence lasted continuously for many years. On the contrary, if you read the article, you see that there were only one or two passages in all those those writings where she confessed experiencing a doubt of God’s existence. Those doubts were intermittent, it seems. What WAS continuous and unabating was an anguish, and feeling of spiritual dryness and God’s absence. Doubtless it was the feeling Jesus expressed in his anguished cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was obviously not doubting the existence of God! He was expressing an anguish and sense of foresakenness. Mother Teresa’s “way of the cross” seems to have lasted for decades.