Sunday, August 26, 2007

Faith in Action

Preach the Gospel at all times, using words when necessary.
~ St. Francis of Assisi

Faith without works is dead.
~ James 2:20

Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith apparently comes as a huge and quite newsworthy revelation to MSM. They’ve been asleep at the switch, however. This is a story I first read ten years ago, shortly after her death.

The fact that Mother Teresa suffered an extended spiritual struggle hardly disqualifies her from sainthood. In fact, it makes her even more worthy of the title. It is exceptionally remarkable that, despite her doubts in the face of the harsh realities of her world, she persevered through several decades of ministering tirelessly to the poor, the diseased, the outcast, and the hopeless. Her spiritual calling to bring comfort to the suffering won out over the darkness of her doubts and helped her to succeed in living an eminently Christ-like life.

Who among believers has not doubted? Our Lord himself was not above being tempted to doubt and despair at various times of his life: during his forty days in the desert, during his agonizing decision to sacrifice himself for us, and during his final moments on the cross. Should Mother Teresa be above Our Lord in this respect? And, being fully human, should she not be even more at the mercy of her dark thoughts?

St. John of the Cross, who suffered his own quite significant crisis of faith, called it “the dark night of the soul.” Mother Teresa’s "dark night" is not the point; the point is, she carried on. She continued doing God’s work, year in and year out, despite her uncertainties. In so doing, she shone a light in the darkness and left an example of truly Christian living for the world to follow.

Mother Teresa’s extensive charitable accomplishments challenge me to face my own doubts with active faith rather than passive hopelessness. For as St. John of the Cross writes, in that “dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.”

Mother Teresa’s legacy is a life lesson from which every soul could benefit.