Mother Teresa, very doubtful
Posted: 26 August 2007 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Letters Reveal Mother Teresa’s Secret

The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. “The smile,” she writes, is “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.” Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she remarks to an adviser. “If you were [there], you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.’”

The church decided to keep her letters, even though one of her dying wishes was that they be destroyed.

^ This seems to indicate that she derived most, if not all of her self esteem by receiving praise from the public via appealing to their religious sentiments, even though she doubted the truth and value of these very sentiments.

The drive for self esteem, whatever it is, is an incredibly powerful force.  We see this when a man, before committing suicide, will sometimes kill his children and wife.  He does this to prevent being remembered unfavorably.  Self esteem is based on our beliefs about what other people think of us.  Mother Teresa had beliefs about what the public thought of her.  Her desire to have the letters destroyed was just a knee jerk preservation of her self esteem, an escape from shame.

[ Edited: 26 August 2007 11:05 AM by CoryDuchesne ]
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Posted: 31 August 2007 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The “dark night of the soul” is a well-known phenomenon in classic Christianity. It’s always been wrapped in the alibi of a “test of faith” that God sends to a faithful person to see if he/she will (pardon the expression) “stay the course” despite that horrible sense of God’s absence. I was brought up as a good Irish Catholic boy, received all the usual sacraments etc. Then one night when I was 14 I experienced the dark night of the soul, that same sense of absence and abandonment that Mother Theresa described. It can only be described as an absolute, unshakable, existential understanding that God simply does not exist. Think of it as a “conversion experience,” only in reverse. wink

Unlike Mother Theresa, I experienced that moment as one of liberation,  not of despair. To this day, I can remember lying in bed that night and thinking “This opens up a whole world of possibilities that didn’t exist five minutes ago.”  And so it did.

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Posted: 31 August 2007 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Either I’m getting confused or we have two threads on this topic.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 31 August 2007 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Mriana - 31 August 2007 08:17 AM

Either I’m getting confused or we have two threads on this topic.

Not necessarily. The OP brought up Mother Theresa and suggested that the reason she kept at it was because it stoked her
self-esteem (which certainly might be one reason). I merely suggested another possibility: that, as a person who understood the
traditions of her church, she considered her long “dark night of the soul” to be a test, and something to be borne as a proof of her faith. Just another possible explanation of the question the OP raised: why did MT keep forging ahead when she no longer felt “the presence of God”?

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Posted: 31 August 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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heres my theory: she suffered from stockholm syndrome.

she was held prisoner to the notion of a God and conducted what biologist, Robert Trivers calls “self-deception in the service of deceit.”

on one hand, she knew she was a prisoner, but on the other and within her incarceration she felt connection to the delusion so she used her “good deeds” as a form of self-deception to try and overcome her imprisonment. Or to go Plato, she was desparately trying to chain herself back to the cave and pretend she did not pull herself away.

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Posted: 31 August 2007 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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truthaddict - 31 August 2007 03:14 PM

heres my theory: she suffered from stockholm syndrome.

FUNNY - I never thought of God the hostage taker before.  Nice one TA   LOL

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Posted: 31 August 2007 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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truthaddict - 31 August 2007 03:14 PM

heres my theory: she suffered from stockholm syndrome.

she was held prisoner to the notion of a God and conducted what biologist, Robert Trivers calls “self-deception in the service of deceit.”

on one hand, she knew she was a prisoner, but on the other and within her incarceration she felt connection to the delusion so she used her “good deeds” as a form of self-deception to try and overcome her imprisonment. Or to go Plato, she was desparately trying to chain herself back to the cave and pretend she did not pull herself away.

Not bad. Sort of like Sartre’s waiter, she was in bad faith and playing the role of “living saint” to a T.

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Posted: 31 August 2007 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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my next theory is Freudian and it obviously has to do with sex…

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Posted: 31 August 2007 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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retrospy - 31 August 2007 03:21 PM
truthaddict - 31 August 2007 03:14 PM

heres my theory: she suffered from stockholm syndrome.

FUNNY - I never thought of God the hostage taker before.  Nice one TA   LOL

No but the people who espouse the ideas are in a fashion.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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