Friday, August 24, 2007

Matters of Faith

Some of the buzz today has been about revelations of Mother Teresa's spiritual struggles. It seems that everyone is so surprised about it. But really, wouldn't it be even more surprising, and possibly disturbing, to learn that she never had doubts and struggles with her faith? She was human after all.

In some scientific circles it's even being considered that she was some sort of closet atheist. I guess that reaction is understandable when so many of those people consider calling something "religion" is the ultimate insult because it implies blindly accepting things despite any contradictory evidence. Perhaps Mother Teresa can minister to them even after her death by showing them that even the most faithful of religious people don't always blindly accept things without question. Wouldn't you imagine that scientists would recognize that already if they are so smart and logical? But I guess even they can confuse faith and certainty.*

My point here is not to bash atheists or scientists though. My point is to say that the lesson in Mother Teresa's struggles is that we all are human with the same emotional, intellectual, and spiritual conflicts regardless of how we label them. And her example clearly illustrates what our relationships with God are supposed to look like. If we never question things we never learn and grow. God knows that and that is why we have our minds and souls anyway. God wants us to evolve, not just physically but also spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.

I think that it's entirely possible that Mother Teresa suffered some depressive stages in her life. She was a woman, and we women do go through stages in our lives that can affect us in every possible way. At the time of her publicized "crises of faith" she was past her reproductive years, and I must wonder if she had some sadness about not living the fullest possible life as a woman. Yes, I know that her relationship with God was utmost and her service to humanity was her "calling." But she was also fully human and could not exactly escape all the human needs.

This is where I think the Catholic Church has gone way off track in their teachings. I just don't believe in celibacy. It's not normal, and it's not necessary to be celibate in order to have a deep, meaningful relationship with God. I think God wants us to fully experience our humanity and the bodies and minds that we have. God does not think that sex is dirty or sinful. Why in the world would God 'create' sex and require it for our own reproduction (creation of new life) if it was a bad thing?

Of course, this is only some twisted kind of psychological 'thought experiment', but I wonder, how would Mother Teresa's views, thoughts, feelings, faith, and so on have changed if she had ever experienced the total physical union of love with a man? And by extension, how would those things have changed if she had born children from such a union? Surely she would have recognized the divinity incarnate in deep human love and reproduction. And the darkness that seemed to torment her might have been lightened by her appreciation of the power of the human body to celebrate God and Creation in that way.

Certainly, all the suffering and poverty that she saw in the world would challenge even the strongest faith. It can be hard not to ask why God allows such things in the world. But perhaps that's like asking why we must crap. It's just the world working according to the "Natural laws" prescribed by God. Why would God want to go around breaking the Laws of Nature? That wouldn't teach us anything but confusion. If you had created a Universe would you go around messing it up with random changes? Well, I wouldn't. I'd want to watch how it grew and evolved without my interference.

But that's not to say that God has abandoned us and the Universe. God is always here/there for us. Although we are "separate" from God in some sense, He has provided us with ways of being closer to Him. I'm sure that Mother Teresa knew these things intellectually. And it's perfectly acceptable that doubts about this truth entered her mind.

It would have been fascinating to meet and talk with her.

* On further thought, I'm afraid that paragraph sounds a little too crotchety. I certainly didn't intend for it to come across that way. Apologies about that.

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