Have No Faith

A new book on Mother Teresa, the global icon of faith and service to God, reveals that she was privately tormented for decades, perhaps until her death, by profound skepticism of both her religion and her work.


In painfully agonizing letters to her spiritual confidants she expressed apprehension that she might “turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness.”

She felt “empty – no faith – no love – no zeal. – [Saving] Souls holds no attraction,” and wondered: “What do I labour for? If there be no God – there can be no soul – if there is no Soul then Jesus – You also are not true.”

The letters, which have been published by Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, director of the Mother Teresa Center and principal cheerleader of the drive to canonize her as a saint, have evoked widespread incredulity in the media and even raised questions whether her elevation to sainthood may be derailed.

It should not.

Skepticism is the hallmark of a true believer.

It is a tribute to Mother Teresa’s religious genius that she dared venture and explore the dark depths of her soul.

Perhaps the book might sow a kernel of doubt in the moral certainty of people of all creeds and faiths. If someone so profoundly holy as Mother Teresa was tormented by doubt, so should we all.

Faith alone is not a basis for genuine faith. If a person of faith is not haunted by the profound injustices in this world, the pain and misery to which millions are daily subjected, human fallibility and cruelty, then he is blind to both the world and his faith.

People of all faiths should loosen, if only a bit, their grip on self-righteousness and theological superiority, which is the source of so much conflict and violence throughout this world. The type that drives, for instance, the fanatics responsible for the lethal attacks from Hyderabad to Godhra, Baghdad to New York.

Let Mother Teresa serve also to enhance our skepticism in the secular world – of politics, for example. The Democratic Party is currently running ads attacking Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal for disparaging comments he made about Protestants in a series of articles he wrote over 10 years ago in Catholic journals as he struggled with his conversion from Hinduism to Christianity.

We are no apologists for Jindal’s ideologically extreme politics, with which we profoundly disagree, but far from disparaging religions, the articles demonstrate the depth and sincerity with which a young man wrestled over his faith and identity.

We should all be as skeptical, always. We wish Jindal and Mother Teresa too struggled as acutely with questions of this secular world – abortion, gun control, fairness, social justice, etc. – as they did with their faith.

Let’s all question and challenge our leaders, our institutions and accepted orthodoxies in all forms and all forums.

Nothing and no one ought to be sacred. Nothing and no one should be accepted on faith.

That was the profound idea of the Enlightenment and of the American experiment, to which so many immigrants like me were attracted.

Too bad America has failed to live upto its principles.

Let the creative genius of doubt and reason, so long hidden, so deeply repressed, be freed at last, freed at last. How ironic that it took the disclosure of the secret torment of one of God’s most faithful ambassadors, Mother Teresa, to rekindle an understanding and appreciation of the world of reason.

Have that faith.

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