Yesterday I woke up to hear the rather gleeful reporting that a new book about Mother Teresa showed that throughout her life she doubted her faith and even the existence of God. The letters collected in the book show her constant searching for God, only occasionally getting a glimpse of God's presence. The evening news seemed to also take great delight in the fact that the author is a priest who is also her postulant for canonization. Both of the segments devoted to this seemed to throw the idea around that Mother Teresa did not believe in God.
The news segments could not be further from the truth. Mother Teresa still had her faith, even to the end. Though she could not feel God's presence, her work continued unabated. Though decades passed between her feeling the presence of Christ by her side her mission to care for the poor, the dying, the unloved, never wavered. Was this a single-minded devotion to duty, or perhaps a feeling that since she'd been "caught" she should continue the charade? It was not. Every act of kindness, every second spent with one who was ignored, these were her cries to God: please give me a sign of Your existence!
She was asking for her faith to be confirmed, though even Jesus said that no signs except the Resurrection would be seen. In short, Mother Teresa struggled with doubt as all Christians do. We cannot see God, we are constantly amazed by the wonders of science and horrified by the excesses of man against his fellow man and we doubt God's existence. We desperately want a sign given to us so we can say to others "Now you can believe!" We want to be right, and want everyone to know how right we are. We are human and we do not watch ourselves as we envelop ourselves in hubris. This false pride in knowing everything there is to know, and the fear of being wrong leads to doubt God's existence. The motive for belief is questioned and leads to one of many questions on the nature of existence if God does exist.
Faith conquers that doubt. For the faithful, God does exist and though He is not always felt in the believer's life, faith reminds us that he is there. Mother Teresa prayed despite her questioning of her beliefs and motives. She had faith to continue her works and her prayer despite these questions. Mother Teresa had moments of doubt in her life but faith, trust in God, is what kept her going forward. She believed.