Friday, September 7, 2007

How dare we?

On the cover of the most recent Time Magazine is Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charity. A Catholic nun who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work caring for the poor, sick, orphaned and dying in India. A Nobel Peace Prize!

Ten years after her death, her biggest secret is revealed. Previously undisclosed letters show that she spent almost 50 years without sensing the presence of God. On the outside, she prayed. She dedicated her life to someone she could not find.

Her letters speak of torture and darkness, coldness, pain; emptiness so great that nothing touched her soul.

I guess every believer doubts at some point or another. (And every doubter believes at some point or another.) But this astonishing woman never stopped working in God’s name. In the middle of all that emptiness, she trusted him completely.

As stunning as I find this, the sentence that broke my heart was “Please destroy any letters or anything I have written”. After everything she did, didn’t she deserve that we at least honor that?


Carol Miller said...

She should have destroyed them herself. We all should, but we don't. After Hemingway's death his heirs found an unfinished manuscript and published "the Old Man and the Sea". Reading it is like looking at one of those unfinished Monet's at the Marmotan Museum in Paris. It's embarassing. Why can't we learn to clean out our files, studio, lives, without trusting that task to those who come after us? But we don't. We think we can use them, that they will be useful for our biographers, or that they will supply us with a nostalgia trip. Why do we only clean things out when we move to another dwelling?

Dushka said...

Yes. We need to destroy anything we don't want others to publish. But you're talking about manuscripts still in your power. In Mother Theresa's case, she didn't have the letters in her possession. She wrote and sent them, and others saved them, then shared them with the world.

Miguel Cane said...

In a word?

How dare we?


My dear, I've seen people sell their own mothers for far less.

In truth, the sensationalistic search for "news" -- and lord knows that Time magazine, as much respected as it is, has fallen prey to this horrid trend- has led us to rack the lives of everyone. Nothing is sacred anymore.

Even so, I find this woman amazing. She was not a hypocrite (sp?): even when in doubt and fear, she sought to do for others the best she could, and that's something to admire, whereas others would have sought gain for their own, or on the best of cases, would have secularized and renounced their habits, and Mother Teresa did neither. She trascended even her loss of faith out of love for her fellow human... and that is enough for me to believe on her plight.

I have faith in things, but am not religious. I deal with God in my own fashion, but have been a católicolapsado for ages. That doesn't mean I can't respect others' beliefs.

As for destroying what I don't want to be read... I believe its our duty to honor requests... but it's better sometimes to do it ourselves.

Much love to both
[and to Carol & Tomas too! Plenty!]

M -- who's not marooned ;)

Dushka said...

Exactly. There is nothing hypocritical about her. It's heroic. And now, it's public. Sigh.

David said...

I'm not sure it's as easy as 'destroy and be free'. I'd like to think the fifteen uninterrupted years of diaries (1987-2002) will be something I want to glance back at until I'm very very old. And as I plan to die suddenly, unexpectedly, and while flying a sopwith camel at the age of 116, I'm not sure I'll know in advance that I need to throw them on the bonfire!

But yes, greed, and a misguided sense of 'public interest' are probably what caused some bright spark to try and mortalize Mother Theresa when the Catholic church is getting ready to Canonize her...

Miguel Cane said...

I find this amazing...
can I use this topic on my blog, quoting the source?

I think it's important to tell of her plight... even if it was publicized against her will. See, it will show her in a new light: Heroic beyond the trappings of faith.

May I?


Dushka said...

David - a sopwith camel? like Snoopy!

Miguel - of course you can use this topic. It's not mine. It was on the cover of Time!

Anonymous said...

Dushka, I found her questioning quite interesting and honest. Still, Let me me the voice of dissent here in two areas.

First, none of us have a say over what is no longer ours. "Can I have that gift back?" "Please send me back those kisses and tender words. Regular mail will do?" "Please do not let anybody know what I really think." Mother Theresa is dead and the world knowing what she thought or felt can not hurt her. More importantly, reading her letters can help us understand better who she was. I've made many mistakes in my time and I am happy to recognize them as such. I am not ashamed to show who I am, and will be even less so when I am long gone. Why should she be? Her questioning god is honest. However, her effort to keep the questioning silent should be reprimanded.

Second, and more importantly, I am not sure M.T's over all effect on the world if as positive as many think. I am not a fan of Mother Theresa. There, I said it. Her work with the poor and the sick showed the uttermost compassion and is commendable. She deserves all the kudos she's ever received and then some. However, she was an ignorant, arrogant person when it came to other areas of human nature. Did you know she was an active campaigner to keep the ban on divorce in Ireland? Good luck to you if you were a battered Irish wife. She thought you should stand by your man even if he kicked the living daylights out of you every Friday night after a night drinking out with the boys. Even if she did not think it, her actions supported those who did.

Her unparalleled charitable nature was used by her --- or at the very least by other people and institutions with her full permission --- to promote and give legitimacy to causes which prevented the advancement of science and the elimination of injustice in the world.

So, were here actions on the balance positive or negative? I can't tell, but the world will certainly be a better place if everyone knows the full story.

Un beso Dushka, and please say hi to Luca,

Gabriel Sod

Dushka said...


Point well taken. I didn't know about the divorce ban. I don't even know that much about Mother Theresa, other than she was a strong woman, which I admire.

My commentary was less about her, and more about my feeling that we should respect a person's wishes after they die. And that we should tread more lightly with what others consider intimate. I can't help but feel we know a lot of people's full stories and the world has not become a better place as a result.

More importantly, though, I love that you finally commented on the blog. I love it when you visit.

Anonymous said...

It my pleasure to visit your blog Duska, you know I am an unabashed fan.



David said...

...yes, a sopwith camel, an aeroplane with all the sophistication of a peddle go-kart!