Sign In Forgot Password
High HolidaysBecome a Member

Rabbi Bulka's Weekly Question

Rabbi Bulka's Weekly Question

Documents in the Vatican's files on Mother Teresa indicate she began to struggle with her belief in God at about the same time she began to care for the the downtrodden in Calcutta. A new book by Mother Teresa's postulator reveals many letters she reportedly wanted to destroy. 'Lord, my God, you have thrown (me) away as unwanted -- unloved,' she wrote. 'I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer, no, no one.' How do you react to this crisis of faith experienced by Mother Teresa?

My guess is that most people who take faith seriously can relate to Mother Teresa's crisis. You aptly call it a crisis of faith, which is distinct from a crisis about whether to believe. More accurately, it is a crisis in faith. Mother Teresa was a believer who felt she was abandoned. Hers is a plaintive cry that goes back to Biblical times. The words "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (Psalm 22) are the precursor to Mother Teresa's agonizing cry from the heart.

It may sound corny, but only a believer can have a crisis of this type. There are those who would see this as a weakness, yet it is more likely a sign of strength and vigour. You hear the voice of someone who is talking to God. You cannot talk to God unless you believe in God. There is no statement denying God's existence. There is a plea for God to become part of Mother Teresa's life. It is a plea for God.

We should be grateful that these letters were not destroyed, as was the apparent wish of Mother Teresa. Maybe Mother Teresa was afraid that people would misconstrue her crisis as her abandoning faith. Quite the opposite is the case, though many may not grasp it.

The prophets of old who saw injustice, who agonized over the pain of the innocent, screamed out to God, asking WHY? They believed, therefore they screamed. Abraham enters into a vigorous exchange with God when he hears that God is contemplating the destruction of Sodom. And there is no evidence that God is angry with Abraham. On the contrary, there is a clear sense of appreciation, as evidenced in the patient responses God offers to each of Abraham's persistent questions.

These letters reveal a profound faith, a far cry from the thoughtless, automaton approach to faith that is too often bereft of a true personal connection to God.

 

Originally published in the Ottawa Citizen on  September 08, 2007

 

Mon, January 27 2020 1 Shevat 5780