“God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only requires that you try” –Blessed Theresa of Calcutta’s words.
Today the church commemorates her. Lately Mother Theresa is in the news again. The multitude of news agency’s across North America reporting a great news flash – “Mother Theresa had doubts.” I must say it must be slow in the news rooms these days. Are we to be surprised that this woman of such profound wisdom and faith from time to time had doubts? Do we really believe that a saint of the church who toiled day after day in some of the most abject poverty on the face of the planet, never doubted? – not even for a moment? Truthfully we know that all of the great spiritual disciples were people of profound prayer, faith and contemplation. What that means is an ability to enter into the unsafe and vulnerable place of doubting, being held up and supported by a mature faith. CNN reported "doubting Theresa" as if this woman was somehow a hoax in her faith. It reported the story as if doubt was the opposite of faith. How misinformed they are. Faith and doubt live together all of the time – FEAR is the polar opposite of faith. Fear paralyses, doubt can embolden.
As I write this I think of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Julian of Norwich, St. Peter, Martin Luther King, Catherine of Sienna, Mary Magdalene and the list goes on. Please do not let this information out to the mainstream media but – “The disciples had doubts as well!” I chalk all of this up to the media’s fixation on Conservative Christianity – fundamentalism. This form of naïve faith does suppose that you never question and you never doubt. But the church Mothers and Fathers have a different story top tell and they have told that story in their lives, in their actions, in their faith journeys. The reason we talk about their teachings and their lives today is because they weathered all doubt because of their faith.
If we could be honest about our faith we would all admit to doubts. When we face loneliness and rejection, when see senseless war, when we see hunger in one corner of the world and waste in another, when we look at a terminally ill child, when we sit with a parent who has forgotten us, when our trust is broken, when we feel betrayed, when….well you get the picture! It is not unnatural that we have doubts. But what makes the follower different is the ability to live in that moment without being afraid to step forward anyway. It is the desire to love, even when we risk the possibility of being hurt. It is the willingness to enter into another’s suffering knowing that it may be senseless to do so from a “logical” perspective. The follower is prepared to have a holy conversation. That is to say, even though there may be uncertainty – In doubt, the disciple always asks the questions always looks to the Master, the Divine, the Sacred to help untangle the mess that life can sometimes be. And people like Blessed Theresa of Calcutta is prepared to ask those questions knowing that there might be no answer – ever.
Yes indeed, we are all called to try. We may not succeed, but we are called to try – Try what you ask? Loving, Forgiving, Embracing, Healing, Respecting, and Accepting those around us. Try!