Mother Teresa was canonized on Sunday, officially declared to be a saint. It isn’t necessary to be a Roman Catholic to appreciate this woman, who ministered to the poor and the dying on the streets of Calcutta.
Her example and the sense of holiness she conveyed persuaded many, such as Malcolm Muggeridge, to become a Christian. Nevertheless, it is said that she experienced spiritual doubt and depression, a “dark night of the soul” that lasted some 50 years.
She wrote, “If I’m going to be a saint, I’m going to be a saint of darkness, and I’ll be asking from heaven to be the light of those who are in darkness on Earth.” According to a priest involved with her canonization, she experienced both the physical poverty of the poor and the spiritual poverty of the “unloved, unwanted, uncared for.”
I have heard this period of darkness referred to as evidence that Teresa “was not perfect,” but I think it makes her holiness more believable. The life of faith is not “perfection,” nor constant joy; rather, it often involves what Luther called “tentatio”–struggle, conflict, agony of conscience–and her descriptions of her depression shows that her faith was in Christ and not her own good works, which she had in such abundance.
In honor of her canonization, I will link and excerpt the speech she made at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, in which she gave a compelling critique of abortion. Afterwards, she received a standing ovation, with President and Mrs. Clinton, also on the dais, staying in their seats.