Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
The Patron Saint of Doubters
Mother Theresa of Calcutta
Sometimes I get ahead of myself, maybe that happens a lot of the time. I get ahead of myself and project what I want to see; as in the title of this piece.
Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta; the patron saint of doubters.
There is no doubt that she is being sainted for her life-long commitment to the good, to serving the poor, for setting an example of selflessness; for setting such a strong example that if each of the rest of us were only to approximate a small degree of her fundamental stance toward justice, toward compassion, toward healing, the world might stop spinning in its spiral of violence.
Pope Saint Francis “the Good” (you see I just did it again; projecting), will canonize Mother Theresa tomorrow, on September the 4th, 2016, on the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Her feat will be celebrated from this day forward, by Christians of every stripe, and non-Christian alike, in keeping with her embrace of all people, no matter how flawed or marginalized. A brilliant woman, servant, sister, and theologian; she will grow in her brilliance in her afterlife.
What is most impressive to me about her is found in relation to the memoirs she wrote, how she managed to do the good works she did, serve the church and all of her members, fulfill her commitment to her order, and lead them; to make of her life a daily sacrifice even in the midst of her own profound doubt, sense of abandonment, and suffering.
To persevere in her goodness, in the face of her doubts, to admit to the pain that she brought to others; even as she tried to serve them; and lead them. To bear witness to the suffering of the world, hold God accountable for it in her heart, and still follow the calling of the spirit despite that indictment that is why she will be known as the Patron Saint of Doubters.
Her example of how to fulfill the Christian life in the face of the deepest doubts is what makes her exemplary life shine a million times brighter.
There is something deeply significant about this, the history of Christianity in India has always been connected to the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas. Thomas the doubter, who did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he placed his own fingers into the wounds Christ bore with him even after he was raised.
Never mind the historical realities of the legend held to closely by the Church in India. It is not likely that Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, ever travelled there, but Christians in India have believed this for centuries. Their belief is itself a historical reality that cannot be ignored, and that has shaped their communities for as long as they have existed.
The Church was founded in India by Saint Thomas the Apostle, the doubter, and in the 20th century was shaped by another doubter, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Saint, and mother to us all.