A few interesting reactions from here and there:
Carl Olson has some excerpts from Christopher Hitchens on MSNBC. The man (Hitchens) is pathological in his hatred of Mother Teresa. What is it in her that riles him so? We can only guess.
Whatever else can be said about Atheistic Flavor of the Year Christopher Hitchens, the man has a penchant for rhetorical flourishes, which only go so far to cover up his obsessive dislike for Mother Teresa and his flimsy “damned if you doubt, damned if you don’t” argument against the Catholic Church. Here are some of Hitchens’ measured, careful reflections, courtesy of MSNBC.com:
• “These scrawled, desperate documents…” | Mother Teresa, in other words, didn’t have a laptop. Funny, when Catholics talk about how happy they are to be Catholic, Hitchens says they are idiots. When they admit that they sometimes have doubts and frustrations, he calls them idiots. Sense a distinct pattern here?
• “So, which is the more striking: that the faithful should bravely confront the fact that one of their heroines all but lost her own faith, or that the Church should have gone on deploying, as an icon of favorable publicity, a confused old lady who it knew had for all practical purposes ceased to believe?” | What is even more striking is how Hitchens misrepresents or misunderstands faith and belief. But what do you expect from a man whose book, God Is Not Great, is chock full of howlers and mistakes that would make most 8-year-old atheists blush with shame?
• “…it is the inevitable result of a dogma that asks people to believe impossible things and then makes them feel abject and guilty when their innate reason rebels.” | Which explains why so many people accept theism, rejecting atheism and the dogmas of nihilism and secular humanism.
The Christian Gospel is the good news that God saves sinners through the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ — his cross and resurrection. Salvation comes to those who believe in Christ — it is by grace we are saved through faith.
But the faith that saves is not faith in faith, nor faith in our ability maintain faith, but faith in Christ. Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves.
There is a sweet and genuine emotional aspect to the Christian faith, and God made us emotional and feeling creatures. But we cannot trust our feelings. Our faith is not anchored in our feelings, but in the facts of the Gospel.
As an evangelical Christian, I have to be concerned that part of Mother Teresa’s struggle was that she did not consider herself worthy of salvation. She was certainly not worthy of salvation. Nor am I. Nor is any sinner. The essence of the Gospel is that none is worthy of salvation. That is what makes salvation all about grace. As the Apostle Paul taught us, the wonder of God’s grace is that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.
Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves. We are weak; He is strong. We fluctuate; He is constant. We cannot trust our feelings nor our emotional state. We trust in Christ. Those who come to Christ by faith are not kept unto him by our faith, but by his faithfulness.
I possess no ability to read Mother Teresa’s heart, but I do sincerely hope that her faith was in Christ, and not in her own faithfulness.
Was there no one in the deep sub-basements of ABC who knew about the Dark Night of the Soul — an experience in which someone on the road to sanctity feels abandoned by God and has to cling to faith and vocation by sheer stubborn faith? Could not someone at a local chancery call ABC and say, hey, you idiots, that feeling of abandonment is one more proof that she was a saint?
Catholics know that doubt and fear are part of the human condition, and absolute certainty is rarely if ever granted, and merits skepticism if it’s offered. St. Teresa of Avila experienced the Dark Night; Juan de la Cruz did, too, and wrote one of the greatest of poems in human literature about it (“Once in the Dark of Night”). St. Therese of Lisieux lived through it in the last years of her brief life. Jesus’ Agony in the Garden was quite literally a Dark Night. So was his cry, ”Why have you forsaken me?”
When I’m asked if I experience doubts, I usually answer, ”No more than 20, but that’s before breakfast.”
I suspect that some Catholic source tried to explain these matters to the ABC reporter, but the reporter’s paradigm for all things Catholic is scandal and had been given that paradigm by his news editor, who already had the lead for the story in mind. How could the clip have begun with ”Catholic experts on sanctity said today that the revelation of the secret letters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta were simply one more proof that she indeed was a saint and a very great saint at that.”
No, it was a much better ”grabber” to summon up an atheist to proclaim that the soon-to-be saint was a hypocrite. Like I say, a medicine man with poisoned arrows in the rain forest would get a better break. He would be someone novel.