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Mother Teresa: Her Inner Turmoil

Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun whose lifelong work with the downtrodden inspired millions of people, has been revealed in a new book to have had a near-fifty-year battle with a weak faith.  The book, entitled Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, reveals her spiritual misery through her letters written to confidants: "Where is my faith?"  "...why is there so much pain and darkness in my soul?"

There has been much speculation on how Mother Teresa's outward demeanor was so at odds with her inner struggle of doubt and pain.  Could it be that her doubt and pain were caused by her own inability to seek God where He promises to be found?


Mother Teresa's passion was based in part on mystical "visions" she had in which she believed she conversed with Jesus, and her focus was one of self-sacrifice and personal suffering. While all Christians are at times confronted with sacrifice for the sake of Jesus, her mission seems to have lost sight of Jesus' sacrifice for us, in favor of our sacrifice for Him, turning grace into works.  "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing" (Galatians 2:21).  See also Romans 3:28, 4:4-5, 11:5-6, and Galatians 5:4.

Catholicism emphasizes the suffering of Jesus as though it is ongoing and incomplete.  Jesus cried out from the cross, "It is finished!"  The price was paid "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10).  Jesus paid the enormous penalty for the sins of the whole human race.  To try to add to that sacrifice is a rejection of it, saying, in effect, it is insufficient.

Related to that doctrinal error, Catholicism puts an un-Scriptural emphasis on mysticism, approaching God through unbiblical means.  With these points in mind, it is not surprising that Mother Teresa's faith would falter, because she placed her trust not in Jesus, but in herself.  The Gospel presents us with a different picture.  In the Gospel, our focus is directed toward the cross:
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."  Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."  [emphasis added]                  John 6:27-29
Faith is strengthened through frequent contact with the means by which God promises to come to us, in His Word (the Bible), in Baptism, and in Holy Communion.  Mother Teresa's life can be an inspiration for us, and paradoxically, also a reminder of what can happen if we work for food that spoils.

Written by Scott Diekmann and Greta Olsoe

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