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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

mother-theresa.jpgHere’s a good read: A saint in darkness…

MOTHER Teresa, who is one step short of being made a Catholic saint, suffered crises of faith for most of her life and even doubted God’s existence, according to a set of letters.

‘Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear,’ the missionary wrote to one confidant, Reverend Michael Van Der Peet, in 1979.

The letters, some of which she wanted destroyed, appear in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, due to be published next week, 10 years after her death.

Extracts of the book appear in the latest edition of Time magazine.

In more than 40 letters spanning some 66 years, the ethnic Albanian nun who devoted her life to working with the poor in the slums of Kolkata in India, writes of the ‘darkness’, ‘loneliness’ and ‘torture’ she is undergoing.

‘Where is my faith – even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no faith,’ she wrote in an undated letter addressed to Jesus.

‘If there be God – please forgive me – When I try to raise my thoughts to heaven – there is such convicting emptiness.’

In her early life, Mother Teresa, also known as ‘the saint of the gutters’, had visions. In one, she talked to a crucified Jesus on the cross.

But the letters reveal that apart from a brief respite in 1959, she spent most of the last 50 years of her life doubting God’s presence – much at odds with her public face.

In one letter, written in 1959, she wrote: ‘If there be no God – there can be no soul – if there is no soul then Jesus – You also are not true.’

The book’s compiler and editor Reverend Brian Kolodiejchuk is a member of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and was responsible for petitioning for her sainthood. She was beatified – one step short of sainthood – in 2003.

‘I’ve never read a saint’s life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented,’ said Rev Kolodiejchuk.

Mother Teresa’s successor said yesterday that the revelations would not hamper her path to sainthood.

‘I don’t think it will have any effect on the process of sainthood for Mother Teresa,’ said Sister Nirmala, who succeeded Mother Teresa as the head of the Missionaries of Charity.

Cardinal Angelo Scola, the patriarch of Venice, said the letters showed Mother Teresa was ‘one of us, that she did all her work as we do, no more no less’.