Recently released memoirs and writings of Mother Teresa reveal a woman plagued with doubt about the nature of God as well as self-doubt about the meaning of her own life and journey.
As someone seriously considered for sainthood, such doubt is clearly disconcerting for devout Catholics.
It seems, however, that not all Catholics were supporters of her efforts. Christopher Hitchens in an article in October 2003 referred to her as a ‘friend of poverty’ not a ‘friend of the poor’. He further characterized her as a ‘fanatic, fundamentalist, fraud’.
Clearly, a great many others saw her devotion to the poor and those afflicted with leprosy as powerfully inspirational. It would be unfortunate if those who saw her feet of clay would seek to destroy the image of goodness and santliness which became her image.
What I find interesting is exactly what others do not–namely her questioning of a divine presence in the world in the face of suffering. This is the classic argument against the existence of divinity, of God. How can suffering and evil be allowed to exist in the presence of divinity?
My ‘answer’ to this overwhelmingly difficult metaphysical issue at the present time [I am always open to evolving in my own thinking] is this–evil must be allowed to be a choice. Suffering cannot be alleviated by divine intervention either. The rules of existence in this ‘world of action’ [Kabbalistic world of assiyah] is that human choice and free will rule.
Without suffering or the potential for it, there would be no opportunity to offer compassion and help. Without pain their could be no comforting, no solace, no acts of kindness, no empathy. These are all spiritual manifestations of our inner divinity.
I believe in the recylcing of souls, of reincarnation and karma. Justice and fairness can only be regarded as possible if such concepts are accepted. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and as such will have many opportunities to learn and grow.
A life which seems tragic beyond description may be followed by one much less so. Who really knows? But a more open metaphysical understanding might have helped even Mother Teresa accept the evil and suffering as opportunities for her to become who she ultimately became–a symbol of compassion.
We live in a world which need more spiritually enlightened symbols. Perhaps it is not such a miscarriage of justice to ignore Mother Teresa’s failings. By seeing her as a symbol of manifest divinity, her life serves a higher purpose.