Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Teresa: The Tormented Saint

Posted by Jerry on September 5, 2007

From Yahoo! News, an Indian woman who claimed to have been miraculously cured of “lumpy cancer” by Mother Teresa is now angry that she is being ignored and abandoned by the Catholic nuns. Manica Besra accuses the nuns of using her miracle story to secure the beatification of Teresa and then abandoning her after their purposes were fulfilled.

It was Besra’s alleged miracle cure from a “lumpy” tumour… that led to the Vatican clearing the way for Mother Teresa’s beatification in October 2003.

“My hut was frequented by nuns of the Missionaries of Charity before the beatification of Mother Teresa,” Besra said.

“They made of lot of promises to me and assured me of financial help for my livelihood and my children’s education,” she claimed, adding that she was also escorted to the Vatican for the beatification ceremony.

“After that, they forgot me,” said Besra, tears welling up in her eyes.

With the small piece of family land mortgaged to a village money lender years ago, Besra said she is struggling to survive.

“I am now living in penury. My husband is sick. My children have stopped going to school as I have no money. I have to work in the fields to feed my husband and five children,” said Besra, clad in a torn yellow sari.

When she has no work, her children — four sons and a daughter — go to bed hungry.

Well, my suggestion to Besra is to just keep the faith and pray for a miracle everyday, to help herself and her family survive till she arrives at whatever end that God has destined for her.

This story reminds me of an interesting observation I came across on some atheist website: If there’re so many miraculous cures occuring even today, how is it that we never hear of an amputee growing out a new, fully developed, and healthy limb?

On a related note, Teresa’s personal letters that were made public recently reveal that the saintly nun experienced a prolonged crisis of faith; for almost 50 years of her life, Teresa had experienced a sense of darkness and inner void. She said she did not feel the presence of God whatsoever. At one point, she even doubted the very existence of God. Notably, this experience of an utter absence of God was suppressed by her public statements to the contrary.

She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. “The smile,” she writes, is “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.” Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she remarks to an adviser. “If you were [there], you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.’”

Says the Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America and the author of My Life with the Saints, a book that dealt with far briefer reports in 2003 of Teresa’s doubts: “I’ve never read a saint’s life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented.”

Many Catholic theologians have interpreted this spiritual darkness as an indicative sign of the true sainthood of Teresa. They claim that many saints have to live through tormented periods in their lives on earth as the price for forging a most intimate bond with God.

A depiction of St Francis receiving the Stigmata, by Cigoli.  Rays of light are seen emanating from Christ to pierce St Francis's hands.This theory echoes the Catholic interpretation of people allegedly afflicted with the stigmata–spiritually induced physical wounds on the hands and feet resembling those of Jesus on the cross. The explanation given is that the ones closest to a spiritual union with God are also the ones most spiritually tormented and physically afflicted. Whether this affliction and torment result from the will of Satan or of God is not clearly identified. There have been very few people with such wounds who have been officially declared by the Catholic Church to be stigmatists. Probably the most famous one of them is Saint Francis of Assisi. 

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3 Responses to “Teresa: The Tormented Saint”

  1. Pink Imp said

    well. about periods of tormented darkness. everybody goes through it and especially when u are dedicated to something. for example, research, school work, a project, etc. even religion. there are times when i feel like that too but it gets alright again. after all we are but mortal :)

  2. godpigeon said

    “This story reminds me of an interesting observation I came across on some atheist website: If there’re so many miraculous cures occuring even today, how is it that we never hear of an amputee growing out a new, fully developed, and healthy limb?”

    As an amputee and an atheist I’ve always found that observation quite humorous.

  3. [...] Teresa: The Tormented Saint [...]

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