Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lucia Mother Teresa (Updated)

It has been revealed that Mother Teresa experienced what could be considered a "dark night of the soul" where she lost all contact and experience of God - that lasted years.
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
— addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated
This has caused the predictable scorn from those who don't even believe there is a God.

So, what do I think? I think Mother Teresa is a Saint. To continue what she was doing even though she was in such spiritual agony, despite massive doubts, shows incredible faith. And by her example we can all learn something. For me, it will be helpful to try and imagine what it was like for Christ to be abandoned by God during His death on the Cross.

UPDATE: When in doubt, consult the Pope. Fugley has asked "How could [C]hrist ...be abandoned by God during His death on the Cross[?]" The answer, from NOVO MILLENNIO INEUNTE:
A face of sorrow

25. In contemplating Christ's face, we confront the most paradoxical aspect of his mystery, as it emerges in his last hour, on the Cross. The mystery within the mystery, before which we cannot but prostrate ourselves in adoration.

The intensity of the episode of the agony in the Garden of Olives passes before our eyes. Oppressed by foreknowledge of the trials that await him, and alone before the Father, Jesus cries out to him in his habitual and affectionate expression of trust: "Abba, Father". He asks him to take away, if possible, the cup of suffering (cf. Mk 14:36). But the Father seems not to want to heed the Son's cry. In order to bring man back to the Father's face, Jesus not only had to take on the face of man, but he had to burden himself with the "face" of sin. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).

We shall never exhaust the depths of this mystery. All the harshness of the paradox can be heard in Jesus' seemingly desperate cry of pain on the Cross: " ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' " (Mk 15:34). Is it possible to imagine a greater agony, a more impenetrable darkness? In reality, the anguished "why" addressed to the Father in the opening words of the Twenty-second Psalm expresses all the realism of unspeakable pain; but it is also illumined by the meaning of that entire prayer, in which the Psalmist brings together suffering and trust, in a moving blend of emotions. In fact the Psalm continues: "In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you set them free ... Do not leave me alone in my distress, come close, there is none else to help" (Ps 22:5,12).

26. Jesus' cry on the Cross, dear Brothers and Sisters, is not the cry of anguish of a man without hope, but the prayer of the Son who offers his life to the Father in love, for the salvation of all. At the very moment when he identifies with our sin, "abandoned" by the Father, he "abandons" himself into the hands of the Father. His eyes remain fixed on the Father. Precisely because of the knowledge and experience of the Father which he alone has, even at this moment of darkness he sees clearly the gravity of sin and suffers because of it. He alone, who sees the Father and rejoices fully in him, can understand completely what it means to resist the Father's love by sin. More than an experience of physical pain, his Passion is an agonizing suffering of the soul. Theological tradition has not failed to ask how Jesus could possibly experience at one and the same time his profound unity with the Father, by its very nature a source of joy and happiness, and an agony that goes all the way to his final cry of abandonment. The simultaneous presence of these two seemingly irreconcilable aspects is rooted in the fathomless depths of the hypostatic union.

27. Faced with this mystery, we are greatly helped not only by theological investigation but also by that great heritage which is the "lived theology" of the saints. The saints offer us precious insights which enable us to understand more easily the intuition of faith, thanks to the special enlightenment which some of them have received from the Holy Spirit, or even through their personal experience of those terrible states of trial which the mystical tradition describes as the "dark night". Not infrequently the saints have undergone something akin to Jesus' experience on the Cross in the paradoxical blending of bliss and pain. In the Dialogue of Divine Providence, God the Father shows Catherine of Siena how joy and suffering can be present together in holy souls: "Thus the soul is blissful and afflicted: afflicted on account of the sins of its neighbour, blissful on account of the union and the affection of charity which it has inwardly received. These souls imitate the spotless Lamb, my Only-begotten Son, who on the Cross was both blissful and afflicted".13 In the same way, Thérèse of Lisieux lived her agony in communion with the agony of Jesus, "experiencing" in herself the very paradox of Jesus's own bliss and anguish: "In the Garden of Olives our Lord was blessed with all the joys of the Trinity, yet his dying was no less harsh. It is a mystery, but I assure you that, on the basis of what I myself am feeling, I can understand something of it".14 What an illuminating testimony! Moreover, the accounts given by the Evangelists themselves provide a basis for this intuition on the part of the Church of Christ's consciousness when they record that, even in the depths of his pain, he died imploring forgiveness for his executioners (cf. Lk 23:34) and expressing to the Father his ultimate filial abandonment: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:46).
See also Mr Tips' comment for more.

Related Links:
Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith ~ Time
An explanation of Redemptive Suffering
The hour of Mercy
Can we be Saints?

11 comment(s):

fugley said...

How could christ ...be abandoned by God during His death on the Cross. if christ and god are one and the same? Surely christ knew he was going to abandon himself and so could have stopped himself from doing so.

Furthermore, if jesus died on the cross, then god surely died too.

What a whacked out mind you'd need to believe this dross.

Lucia Maria said...

Fugley, there is one God, with three distinct people: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. The Son became a man as well as being God. He talked to God, The Father, via prayer while he was a man. That connection back to the Godhead was severed for some reason when He was offered as a sacrifice on the Cross.

That's as best as I can explain it, as I don't understand it beyond that.

I.M Fletcher said...

Fugley, yes it is a mystery - three persons in one God. St Patrick used the clover leaf to explain it; three leaves but one clover.

Someone else used the example of a bottle of Coke - if you stick a bottle of Coke in the freezer and leave it too long you'll have the three states - solid (ice), liquid (what you drink) and gas (the part that makes it fizz).
The three states but it's all still Coke.

I'll see if I can find any better examples to explain, but it is there in the Bible. eg, One of the disciples says, "show us the Father", and Jesus says, "those who have seen me have seen the Father".

Jesus also said, "before Abraham was, 'I AM'".

Anonymous said...

Fugley, Christ is both man and God. This is theologically contained in the hypostatic union most notably advanced by St John Chrysostom back around the 2nd century or so. The Church struggled with the fusion of Christ, the God-man early on, and many heresies sprang such as Nestorianism, Arianism and so forth.

Did Christ die on the cross? Yes he did. Did God die? No. Christ the man, fully assumed into the nature of Christ the God, lent his will to that of God the Father. The death of Christ the man was resurrected by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. That is Catholic teaching.

Yes, Christ knew exactly what was coming and he STILL allowed it happen - he didn't run, he didn't hide. He didn't stop himself because he was willing to pay the price for us.

In this day and age, it is not hard to come to the conclusion that Christians are not wacked out. The idea that one guy gives himself up to the Romans and saves the world? Yes, its an absurd and startling claim.

But it has been taken so seriously, and investigated so hard, and his Church is still standing, that one must at least investigate it; properly and with a generous spirit.

Andrei said...

I think Mother Teresa was a Saint.

And when you look at the people held up to honor in our secular society and compare them with Mother Teresa, what she accomplished and how she lived you can only wonder at what is going on in the knockers heads.

Greg said...

I wonder if Chris Hitchens or Ayn Rand ever had a doubt about their personal infalliabilty?

Anonymous said...

MT got off on suffering and the misery of others....may she burn in hell.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm.....previous post a gut response and rather harsh....especially after seeing this and getting a new insight into MT's doubt filled mind....was she a aactually an atheist saint? ;-)

Hitchens is fair and generous while the mad Irishman looses it totally...


Anonymous said...


This link is better....I hope.

ZenTiger said...

They could have lined up many more people that could articulate a better argument against Hitchens. I wonder if that was deliberate?

As for Hitchens - Wrong. I'll respond to this later when I have time.

Forensic morsels said...

Slightly flippant:
Definition of Christianity: …the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree…

but still a decent attempt to try and explain the relationship between God and Jesus. All I can say is hooray for Unitarianism

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