Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Dark Night of the Soul

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.
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

Last week, Mother Teresa's letters to her friend were released to the public, showing a woman who struggled mightily with doubt. Immediately people like Christopher Hitchens came out saying that ths was more proof that faith is ridiculous and even Mother Teresa didn't really have any. Indeed, Hitchens essentially says that she was trapped in a hole she had dug for herself during her time of delusion... i.e. faith.

Hitchens suffers from a common misconception - that faith and doubt are opposites. They are not. Indeed, they are twins and without doubt, there is no faith. When Mother Teresa audibly heard Christ speak to her and call her to ministry among the poorest of the poor, she knew. She did not need or have faith. She had heard the voice of God speaking. There was no question. There was no trust. There was only the choice of whether or not to obey. When she later knew Jesus as "The Absent One," it was only faith that kept her going. Remember that the writer of Hebrews tells us that "Faith is the substance of things not seen." It is precisely when we doubt that we find faith. It is in the dark night of the soul that we discover faith and stand upon that which we cannot see.

Obviously Hitchens and his like see proof that she was just a crazy masochist doing what no sane person would ever do. For me, my respect for the woman has sky-rocketed. She was not a super-hero, just a woman with doubts and struggles like any other who happened to do lots of small things with extra-ordinary love. In doing so, she brought the kindom of God a whole bunch of steps closer. And Mr. Hitchens... if she was just crazy... oh that the world would be blessed with more crazy people like her.


Dennis E. McFadden said...


I'm with you. The existential angst of Mother Teresa reminded me of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac, Job, Jeremiah, and even the agony of Christ in the garden. None of these instances support the claims of Mr. Christopher "God is Not Great" Hitchens.

Ryan said...

Great post Roy. My thoughts on this are summed up so beautifully by your words here. Bill Maher is in the same camp as Hitchens (thinks God and faith is a load of bollacks) and makes the collosal mistake that faith and doubt cannot go together. In fact, he even says that it seems to be counterproductive. As you mention here, it is quite the opposite. Thanks for your post here Roy. My respect for Mother Teresa has also jumped as it is much harder to live a life of such devotion when there is silence from God.

Dave Miller said...

Nice post Roy,

I long for a world with crazies just like her!