A Hard Habit to Break

From ABC News:

In dozens of letters spanning 66 years, Mother Teresa described the “emptiness” she felt and confessed her struggles with faith and the existence of heaven in pages she had planned to have destroyed.


To millions her work still shines as the example of Christlike devotion. It brought her the Nobel Peace Prize and beatification by Pope John Paul. But once she began her work in India she never heard God’s voice again. Nine years after she founded her mission in Calcutta she wrote, “What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus — You also are not true.”

Original DVD cover.

“Unlike the other saints, who might have been going through their day with a lot of consolation from their prayer, Mother Teresa was running on empty and doing all these wonderful works,” said Father James Martin.

But while the faithful see her struggle as inspirational, some atheists are taking it as confirmation of their own rational doubts and proof that the faithless can display enormous benevolence.

“Of course nonbelievers all over the world display compassion,” said Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “She was forced to go through the motions and admitted her own hypocrisy.”

As a non-religious person, I don’t know what comes after this life. All I can say is that Mother Teresa did a lot for other people while she shared this earthly plane with the rest of us, and I hope that, wherever she is now, that she is happy and at peace.


Filed under Atheism, Catholicism, Freedom From Religion Foundation, humor, Mother Teresa, movies, parody, Pope John Paul, religion, snark

12 responses to “A Hard Habit to Break

  1. hiswizardeyes

    Definitely agree with your last comment. I’d be surprised if Mother Teresa HADN’T had a crisis of faith. Interestingly, the quotes you included here reminded me of a philosophical work I had to read last semester, which basically proved (once we really thought about it) that the soul, if it exists, cannot be proven to exist and is not associated with our individual identities. It was all so very strange…

  2. nonnie9999

    whew! thank you, hiswizardeyes! i was a little antsy about posting this, as i was afraid that some people might think i was being disrespectful. i am happy to see that you did not think so.
    i think we all have crises of faith, whether we are believers or non-believers. i’m not exactly sure what i believe, and i don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, because, after all, there is no way to know. i guess that i am closer to the non-believer description, but, being a non-believer, there are times when i wonder to myself, “well, maybe……”.

  3. Friend of the court

    Mother Teresa is an icon of charity and following the teachings of Jesus. To have seen the suffering of the extremely poor and tried to help the people with the least amount of hope, is remarkable and exausting. Thinking people ask questions.
    Caring people take action, based on the answers , or lack there of. To witness brutal things, as she must have, during the time she spent in India, how odd it would have been to never question the existence of God. I’ll bet that even the saints, who made their life work proving that God exists, had questions. If they hadn’t, there would be no need to prove anything.

  4. nonnie9999

    it drives me crazy when i watch people being described as religious or church-going or devout or other adjectives that are supposed to convince you that the person is particularly “good”. to me, being religious does not translate into being a good person. actions speak much louder than words and pronouncements of one’s piety. i am not impressed by mother teresa’s being a nun. that did not make her a good person. i am impressed by the good things that she did. her reasons for doing them were her own, and, frankly, i think that is the way it should stay.

  5. Friend of the court

    The Angles don’t belong to Jesus or the Saints. Ancient belief has many. The Bible is an anthology of native beliefs that got lost by the missionaries. Mother Teresa ran a huge international operation for the church. She must have had many plates spinning at once. I bet, an honest biography would be supressed by the hand of the Vatican.

  6. nonnie9999

    it would have been very interesting to see what would have happened had mother teresa headed a large corporation. she did so much with so little, and she managed to do so much good. i bet she could have taught a lot of ceo’s how to be compassionate and profitable at the same time.

  7. nightowl724

    Mother Teresa was one of the few who represent the human ideal and she embodied the spirit of “Mother Earth.” Her being a “nun” was secondary to her being a “mother.” It’s likely that any path she had chosen would have reflected the enormity of her compassion, strength, wisdom — and “motherliness,” which I personally think is closer to “god” than “cleanliness” is!

    Thought-provoking piece, nonnie.

  8. nonnie9999

    all the comments have been far more thought-provoking than the articles written about her. i think what mother teresa is teaching us now is that there is no human ideal, but we should all strive to do the best we can, even when we have doubts about why we are doing it.

  9. Great poster and your comment was right on. I think it would be weird if she didn’t have doubts. That would make her something of an automaton, no?

  10. nonnie9999

    hey fabooj!!! 😀
    maybe we all need to start doing our good deeds without thinking or worrying about why we are doing them. if mother teresa paused every time she had doubts, there would have been a lot more suffering.