Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

REVOLUTION CHURCH

Resistance is Futile… You will be Assimilated

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I needed a day off. I needed to regenerate because I was tired. Too many thoughts going on in my head, baggage that is not mine, responsibility that has been thrust upon me as of late, friends in difficulty, what’s on television. Disaster, mine collapses, hurricanes, fires and floods. It’s the god damned Armageddon!

Icheb is our guide.

It seems that some of my blogging brothers are creating drama for one of my friends, who happens to be dealing with a medical situation that I am all too familiar with. And I tell them now, this too shall pass. The internet is fickle and people will find something else to focus on eventually. Just remember that when you write, you are responsible for what you write. The truth or lies, the facts or the fiction. You are also responsible for the reactions because of what you write. We call that publishing responsibility. YOU are RESPONSIBLE for what you write, every word, every feeling every opinion. So beware what you write.

Over the last few days I have written a great deal about God’s Warriors and I have to say that I have reached new highs in traffic that this blog has ever seen. I taped the first segment of Judaism from Wednesday night. The more I think about it, in watching the documentary again, I find myself wanting to learn more about the conflict. Something to bring up in my theology classes in the coming months. I am still a strong Christian Zionist.

Last night I watched a two hour documentary about “Surviving Katrina” on the Discovery Channel. I remember we sat here that week and watched on live television the march of hurricane Katrina over New Orleans. We lived it here as they lived it there, minus the direct one on one experience. It was hell. Discovery took the time to explain the minutiae of what happened, even to employ “brownie” to explain his role in the failure of all levels of government to adequately take responsibility and care for those in New Orleans and in other hurricane affected areas. I was mortified to say the least.

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Of Special Remembrance: August 24th, Friday, was the one year anniversary of the death of the sainted woman, my great aunt Sister Georgette Cote. There was no call from the mother house, no memorial mass, one year on. I knew the date was coming and I did my best to ignore it because that meant I’d have to write about one truly painful time in my life, since coming to Montreal:

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August 24 2006 – Blog Entry

At 11:30 a.m. this morning, Sister Georgette Cote peacefully met the Lord and entered into her heavenly inheritance.

I had literally just went to take a nap, and the phone rang, it was the hospital.

She waited for me to leave.

Blessed be the Lord our God

Eternal Rest grant her and may perpetual light shine upon her.

Blessed be Marguerite D’Youville.

I had spent the previous 18 hours with her in the ICU ward of the General up the hill. It was me, sister Agathe and sister Monique that last night of her life. The buzzing and whistling of the machines were upsetting her with that huge oxygen mask on her face, she just wanted everything off. So it went. They hooked up the Morphine drip and the clock started ticking.

By midnight the sisters thought that they should get back to the Mother House, so it was just the two of us. I sat reading the Tibetan Book of the dead, while the single nurse came and went without a word. It was dark, quiet and morbid. I had walked home to shower and change out and get some food before the last conversation at 3 a.m. when her surgeon came in to check on her, a very sainted woman, strong of character and voice. You will be ok Ms. Cote. I am here with you. Sister Georgette was fading, her hands waving in front of her face. The surgeon left after bidding us a good night.

Sister Georgette has said to get to devil away from her and to find a priest – well it was 3 a.m. in the morning, who was I going to call then? So I grabbed my rosary and I began to recite prayers over her. She said that “I was a good boy and that God would bless me” then she closed her eyes, and that was the last thing she said. That would be our very last conversation.

As the sun rose – we had a great view out th windows to the South Shore and the Victoria Bridge. She was gone, mentally and emotionally. The male nurse that came on shift started to clean her up and bathe her and change her dressing gown. It was around 9 in the morning. The two sisters had come back from the mother house and around 10 am I set off for home to rest.

I got home and changed out. Had a bite to eat and crawled into bed. While I was lying there, I could smell her and it waifed through my room. A few minutes later the phone rang – it was the hospital, Sister Georgette was dead. She waited for me to leave. It has been a year. I miss her more than most will know.

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When I entered the world of mentoring and the foster parent program I nested. I learned that I was exceptionally maternal in my motivations, yet I kept very manly counsel. I found myself channeling my father at times. I have few rules. Do not lie to me, Do not steal from me or anyone else. If you need something you ask and if I can help you I will. All of my boys know the ground rules. The ground rules are set in stone. If I catch you in a lie or you manipulate me into a position then you have lost my support and your right to be trusted.

He lies to us and he cheats and he is dishonest. He manipulates us and forces us to the wall with his tests to see how far we will go to punish him and stop his manic anger tantrums.

I am not going to have any of this. As of late, I take this boy to bed with me and I ruminate in my head at night, because I want to be a good example. Now I am parent and I am setting the law of the land. And this child has cheated, lied and manipulated. This is a waste of my time. His behavior is unacceptable. If he thinks he is going to push me to anger myself, then he is getting nothing from me until he learns that there are rules in my house and failure to follow these rules will be met with swift execution of consequences.

I have accepted this “location” because mom has failed to exact rules and regulations on her son so I have to step in and set the rules down and play daddy. While the biological father, who has NO RIGHTS, who gave up his parental rights long ago works behind the scenes to manipulate him and he works against everything that we (mom and I) have been working for. And for what? Jesus H. Christ…

Now I have contracted for daily visits with the “wild child” and I have a schedule book to make sure I can fit him into my schedule when school starts. If he thinks I am going to put up with his bullshit – he can think again. I must be patient and understand that he is not like all other normal kids. I get that. And I am patient and kind, but what do I have to do to get him to understand that this is NOT a game.

I am not in this to play games.

Fuck with me and you will learn what it feels like to get on my bad side. And I promise you that I am not fucking around here. Do Not Test me young man because if you do, You will Loose, I promise you, there will be certain consequences for pushing me to the limit of my patience. I am not going to be taking extra baggage to bed with me at night and I surely am not going to waste my time working with kids who do not listen or cannot learn.

You know what I am talking about and you sure as shit know when you are manipulating us and when you LIE to us as well. We know where the money is coming from, and if this happens again, we will bring the law down and you won’t be able to access the daddy bank again. You are smarter than you look, and you know I mean business. I sure as shit am not going to waste my time and talent trying to help you – while you back-stab us and continue to push us to the brink of insanity. I am not going to have this, PERIOD!!!

I am starting to get resentful and angry because you fuck with me, You will not fuck with me. If I am in the role of parent, then you will see what it means to suffer consequences for your behavior.

Jesus, the drama… end of rant…

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It seems that Mother Teresa has brought traffic to this blog that has never been seen before, more than the God’s Warriors traffic. If you look in the PAGES section of this blog you will find that I have written much on the topic of Mother Teresa. I believe that every Christian goes through the Dark Night, and at some point questions, “what the hell am I doing here, and why do I waste my time? (Read above)

Is there a God and if there is He needs to make himself present to me before I loose my mind! It is interesting to see how traffic changes every twenty four hours. I mean it is great that traffic has doubled in recent days. That means that religious writing has changed again. That what I do here is important to many readers and I thank you for stopping by. No one I know has written one word on any topic that I have addressed from my blog list in recent days.

Yet there are blogs that have stopped by that I have never seen before, and I get closer to the Top List blogs. Those who are really knowledgeable about world events, they are critical of writers and they know things that I don’t which is in itself very educational because I know there is a slant in cable news reporting, but what I did not know from this writer – “Right Truth,” helped to inform me to a level I had not been aware of.

As a writer, I am responsible for what I write, and I accept that. I took a step to write about topics that I am educated about, and others come by to read and they impart certain knowledge that I did not have before. Which raises the bar for me as a writer. The more I study and the more I write the higher up the level of professional blogging I rise to. It’s all about being informed and educated on the topics we write about and it is up to us to take the time to read other bloggers points of view so that we can more roundly write on what we are writing about. The article at Right Truth, linked above is very informative. Take some time to visit that blog because they are a great Blog and the writing is incredible.

Well, that is a lot of writing for today, So I am going to close and bid you all a good night.


Mother Teresa Cont’d…

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ABCNews.com 

In dozens of letters spanning 66 years, Mother Teresa described the “emptiness” she felt and confessed her struggles with faith and the existence of heaven in pages she had planned to have destroyed.

A decade after her death, they have been published in the book “Come By My Light” as part of the petition for her sainthood.

“The lives of the saints are personal, but they are not private,” said The Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, who is publishing the letters. “The documents are really are quite valuable in that they speak of her own holiness and the value … to people who can relate to what she was going through.”

They offer surprising revelations, including one instance in which she writes, “no faith — no love — no zeal — [The saving of] souls holds no attraction — Heaven means nothing … it has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.'”

Her work began when she heard God tell her to open a mission in Calcutta. The book includes her Jan. 13, 1947 letter in which she wrote to the Archbishop of Calcutta to request permission to found her own order, the Missionaries of Charity.

Several years later, she composed a letter as an exercise from her spiritual adviser to express her devotion to Jesus and passionately wrote, “I want to satiate your thirst with every single drop of blood that you can find in me. Don’t allow me to do you wrong in any way.”

To millions her work still shines as the example of Christlike devotion. It brought her the Nobel Peace Prize and beatification by Pope John Paul. But once she began her work in India she never heard God’s voice again. Nine years after she founded her mission in Calcutta she wrote, “What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus — You also are not true.”

“Even the sisters around her had no idea of the length and the depth,” Kolodiejchuk said.

Faith vs. Benevolence

As many Catholics learn how long she suffered this crisis of faith, they are even more awed by her deeds.

“Unlike the other saints, who might have been going through their day with a lot of consolation from their prayer, Mother Teresa was running on empty and doing all these wonderful works,” said Father James Martin.

But while the faithful see her struggle as inspirational, some atheists are taking it as confirmation of their own rational doubts and proof that the faithless can display enormous benevolence.

“Of course nonbelievers all over the world display compassion,” said Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “She was forced to go through the motions and admitted her own hypocrisy.”

Ten years after her death, her Missionaries of Charity claims to have over a million volunteers comforting the sick and orphaned in 40 countries. This book is certain to stir those who pray the Vatican will canonize the nun from the slums. If it does, Mother Teresa may just be the patron saint of skeptics.


Mother Teresa Cont'd…

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ABCNews.com 

In dozens of letters spanning 66 years, Mother Teresa described the “emptiness” she felt and confessed her struggles with faith and the existence of heaven in pages she had planned to have destroyed.

A decade after her death, they have been published in the book “Come By My Light” as part of the petition for her sainthood.

“The lives of the saints are personal, but they are not private,” said The Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, who is publishing the letters. “The documents are really are quite valuable in that they speak of her own holiness and the value … to people who can relate to what she was going through.”

They offer surprising revelations, including one instance in which she writes, “no faith — no love — no zeal — [The saving of] souls holds no attraction — Heaven means nothing … it has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.'”

Her work began when she heard God tell her to open a mission in Calcutta. The book includes her Jan. 13, 1947 letter in which she wrote to the Archbishop of Calcutta to request permission to found her own order, the Missionaries of Charity.

Several years later, she composed a letter as an exercise from her spiritual adviser to express her devotion to Jesus and passionately wrote, “I want to satiate your thirst with every single drop of blood that you can find in me. Don’t allow me to do you wrong in any way.”

To millions her work still shines as the example of Christlike devotion. It brought her the Nobel Peace Prize and beatification by Pope John Paul. But once she began her work in India she never heard God’s voice again. Nine years after she founded her mission in Calcutta she wrote, “What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus — You also are not true.”

“Even the sisters around her had no idea of the length and the depth,” Kolodiejchuk said.

Faith vs. Benevolence

As many Catholics learn how long she suffered this crisis of faith, they are even more awed by her deeds.

“Unlike the other saints, who might have been going through their day with a lot of consolation from their prayer, Mother Teresa was running on empty and doing all these wonderful works,” said Father James Martin.

But while the faithful see her struggle as inspirational, some atheists are taking it as confirmation of their own rational doubts and proof that the faithless can display enormous benevolence.

“Of course nonbelievers all over the world display compassion,” said Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “She was forced to go through the motions and admitted her own hypocrisy.”

Ten years after her death, her Missionaries of Charity claims to have over a million volunteers comforting the sick and orphaned in 40 countries. This book is certain to stir those who pray the Vatican will canonize the nun from the slums. If it does, Mother Teresa may just be the patron saint of skeptics.


Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith …

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By DAVID VAN BIEMA

Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the “Saint of the Gutters,” went to Oslo. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her.

“It is not enough for us to say, ‘I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'” she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had “[made] himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one.” Jesus’ hunger, she said, is what “you and I must find” and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world “that radiating joy is real” because Christ is everywhere – “Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive.”

Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, – Listen and do not hear – the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me – that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama.

Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction – that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.

And in fact, that appears to be the case. A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works.

The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever – or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and – except for a five-week break in 1959 – never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain.

In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. 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.” Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light’s editor: “I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her.”

The book is hardly the work of some antireligious investigative reporter who Dumpster-dived for Teresa’s correspondence. Kolodiejchuk, a senior Missionaries of Charity member, is her postulator, responsible for petitioning for her sainthood and collecting the supporting materials. (Thus far she has been beatified; the next step is canonization.) The letters in the book were gathered as part of that process.

The church anticipates spiritually fallow periods. Indeed, the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the “dark night” of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters. Teresa’s may be the most extensive such case on record. (The “dark night” of the 18th century mystic St. Paul of the Cross lasted 45 years; he ultimately recovered.)

Yet Kolodiejchuk sees it in St. John’s context, as darkness within faith. Teresa found ways, starting in the early 1960s, to live with it and abandoned neither her belief nor her work. Kolodiejchuk produced the book as proof of the faith-filled perseverance that he sees as her most spiritually heroic act.

Two very different Catholics predict that the book will be a landmark. The Rev. Matthew Lamb, chairman of the theology department at the conservative Ave Maria University in Florida, thinks Come Be My Light will eventually rank with St. Augustine’s Confessions and Thomas Merton‘s The Seven Storey Mountain as an autobiography of spiritual ascent. Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book “a new ministry for Mother Teresa, a written ministry of her interior life,” and says, “It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone.”

Not all atheists and doubters will agree. Both Kolodiejchuk and Martin assume that Teresa’s inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn’t there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work. But to the U.S.’s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book’s Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned.

Says Christopher Hitchens, author of The Missionary Position, a scathing polemic on Teresa, and more recently of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: “She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself.” Meanwhile, some familiar with the smiling mother’s extraordinary drive may diagnose her condition less as a gift of God than as a subconscious attempt at the most radical kind of humility: she punished herself with a crippling failure to counterbalance her great successes.

Come Be My Light is that rare thing, a posthumous autobiography that could cause a wholesale reconsideration of a major public figure – one way or another. It raises questions about God and faith, the engine behind great achievement, and the persistence of love, divine and human. That it does so not in any organized, intentional form but as a hodgepodge of desperate notes not intended for daylight should leave readers only more convinced that it is authentic – and that they are, somewhat shockingly, touching the true inner life of a modern saint.

Prequel: Near Ecstatic Communion

[Jesus:] Wilt thou refuse to do this for me? … You have become my Spouse for my love – you have come to India for Me. The thirst you had for souls brought you so far – Are you afraid to take one more step for Your Spouse – for me – for souls? Is your generosity grown cold? Am I a second to you?
[Teresa:] Jesus, my own Jesus – I am only Thine – I am so stupid – I do not know what to say but do with me whatever You wish – as You wish – as long as you wish. [But] why can’t I be a perfect Loreto Nun – here – why can’t I be like everybody else.


[Jesus:] I want Indian Nuns, Missionaries of Charity, who would be my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying and the little children … You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful but just because you are that – I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?


– in a prayer dialogue recounted to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier, January 1947

On Sept. 10, 1946, after 17 years as a teacher in Calcutta with the Loreto Sisters (an uncloistered, education-oriented community based in Ireland), Mother Mary Teresa, 36, took the 400-mile (645-km) train trip to Darjeeling. She had been working herself sick, and her superiors ordered her to relax during her annual retreat in the Himalayan foothills. On the ride out, she reported, Christ spoke to her. He called her to abandon teaching and work instead in “the slums” of the city, dealing directly with “the poorest of the poor” – the sick, the dying, beggars and street children.

“Come, Come, carry Me into the holes of the poor,” he told her. “Come be My light.” The goal was to be both material and evangelistic – as Kolodiejchuk puts it, “to help them live their lives with dignity [and so] encounter God’s infinite love, and having come to know Him, to love and serve Him in return.”

It was wildly audacious – an unfunded, single-handed crusade (Teresa stipulated that she and her nuns would share their beneficiaries’ poverty and started out alone) to provide individualized service to the poorest in a poor city made desperate by riots. The local Archbishop, Ferdinand PÉrier, was initially skeptical. But her letters to him, preserved, illustrate two linked characteristics – extreme tenacity and a profound personal bond to Christ. When PÉrier hesitated, Teresa, while calling herself a “little nothing,” bombarded him with notes suggesting that he refer the question to an escalating list of authorities – the local apostolic delegation, her Mother General, the Pope.

And when she felt all else had failed, she revealed the spiritual topper: a dramatic (melodramatic, really) dialogue with a “Voice” she eventually revealed to be Christ’s. It ended with Jesus’ emphatic reiteration of his call to her: “You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful but just because you are that – I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?”

Mother Teresa had visions, including one of herself conversing with Christ on the Cross. Her confessor, Father Celeste Van Exem, was convinced that her mystical experiences were genuine. “[Her] union with Our Lord has been continual and so deep and violent that rapture does not seem very far,” he commented. Teresa later wrote simply, “Jesus gave Himself to me.”

Then on Jan. 6, 1948, PÉrier, after consulting the Vatican, finally gave permission for Teresa to embark on her second calling. And Jesus took himself away again.

The Onset

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love – and now become as the most hated one – the one – You have thrown away as unwanted – unloved. I call, I cling, I want – and there is no One to answer – no One on Whom I can cling – no, No One. – Alone … Where is my Faith – even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no Faith – I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart – & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them – because of the blasphemy – If there be God – please forgive me – When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven – there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. – I am told God loves me – and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
– addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated

In the first half of 1948, Teresa took a basic medical course before launching herself alone onto the streets of Calcutta. She wrote, “My soul at present is in perfect peace and joy.” Kolodiejchuk includes her moving description of her first day on the job: “The old man lying on the street – not wanted – all alone just sick and dying – I gave him carborsone and water to drink and the old Man – was so strangely grateful …

Then we went to Taltala Bazaar, and there was a very poor woman dying I think of starvation more than TB … I gave her something which will help her to sleep. – I wonder how long she will last.” But two months later, shortly after her major triumph of locating a space for her headquarters, Kolodiejchuk’s files find her troubled. “What tortures of loneliness,” she wrote. “I wonder how long will my heart suffer this?”

This complaint could be understood as an initial response to solitude and hardship were it not for subsequent letters. The more success Teresa had – and half a year later so many young women had joined her society that she needed to move again – the worse she felt. In March 1953, she wrote PÉrier, “Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself – for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.'”

PÉrier may have missed the note of desperation. “God guides you, dear Mother,” he answered avuncularly. “You are not so much in the dark as you think … You have exterior facts enough to see that God blesses your work … Feelings are not required and often may be misleading.” And yet feelings – or rather, their lack – became her life’s secret torment. How can you assume the lover’s ardor when he no longer grants you his voice, his touch, his very presence?

The problem was exacerbated by an inhibition to even describe it. Teresa reported on several occasions inviting a confessor to visit and then being unable to speak. Eventually, one thought to ask her to write the problem down, and she complied. “The more I want him – the less I am wanted,” she wrote PÉrier in 1955. A year later she sounded desolate: “Such deep longing for God – and … repulsed – empty – no faith – no love – no zeal. – [The saving of] Souls holds no attraction – Heaven means nothing – pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”

At the suggestion of a confessor, she wrote the agonized plea that begins this section, in which she explored the theological worst-possible-case implications of her dilemma. That letter and another one from 1959 (“What do I labour for? If there be no God – there can be no soul – if there is no Soul then Jesus – You also are not true”) are the only two that sound any note of doubt of God’s existence. But she frequently bemoaned an inability to pray: “I utter words of Community prayers – and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give – But my prayer of union is not there any longer – I no longer pray.”

As the Missionaries of Charity flourished and gradually gained the attention of her church and the world at large, Teresa progressed from confessor to confessor the way some patients move through their psychoanalysts. Van Exem gave way to PÉrier, who gave way in 1959 to the Rev. (later Cardinal) Lawrence Picachy, who was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Neuner in 1961. By the 1980s the chain included figures such as Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C.

For these confessors, she developed a kind of shorthand of pain, referring almost casually to “my darkness” and to Jesus as “the Absent One.” There was one respite. In October 1958, Pope Pius XII died, and requiem Masses were celebrated around the Catholic world. Teresa prayed to the deceased Pope for a “proof that God is pleased with the Society.” And “then and there,” she rejoiced, “disappeared the long darkness … that strange suffering of 10 years.”

Unfortunately, five weeks later she reported being “in the tunnel” once more. And although, as we shall see, she found a way to accept the absence, it never lifted again. Five years after her Nobel, a Jesuit priest in the Calcutta province noted that “Mother came … to speak about the excruciating night in her soul. It was not a passing phase but had gone on for years.” A 1995 letter discussed her “spiritual dryness.” She died in 1997.

Explanations

Tell me, Father, why is there so much pain and darkness in my soul?
– to the Rev. Lawrence Picachy, August 1959

Why did Teresa’s communication with Jesus, so vivid and nourishing in the months before the founding of the Missionaries, evaporate so suddenly? Interestingly, secular and religious explanations travel for a while on parallel tracks. Both understand (although only one celebrates) that identification with Christ’s extended suffering on the Cross, undertaken to redeem humanity, is a key aspect of Catholic spirituality.

Teresa told her nuns that physical poverty ensured empathy in “giving themselves” to the suffering poor and established a stronger bond with Christ’s redemptive agony. She wrote in 1951 that the Passion was the only aspect of Jesus’ life that she was interested in sharing: “I want to … drink ONLY [her emphasis] from His chalice of pain.” And so she did, although by all indications not in a way she had expected.

Kolodiejchuk finds divine purpose in the fact that Teresa’s spiritual spigot went dry just as she prevailed over her church’s perceived hesitations and saw a successful way to realize Jesus’ call for her. “She was a very strong personality,” he suggests. “And a strong personality needs stronger purification” as an antidote to pride. As proof that it worked, he cites her written comment after receiving an important prize in the Philippines in the 1960s: “This means nothing to me, because I don’t have Him.”

And yet “the question is, Who determined the abandonment she experienced?” says Dr. Richard Gottlieb, a teacher at the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute who has written about the church and who was provided a copy of the book by TIME. “Could she have imposed it on herself?” Psychologists have long recognized that people of a certain personality type are conflicted about their high achievement and find ways to punish themselves.

Gottlieb notes that Teresa’s ambitions for her ministry were tremendous. Both he and Kolodiejchuk are fascinated by her statement, “I want to love Jesus as he has never been loved before.” Remarks the priest: “That’s a kind of daring thing to say.” Yet her letters are full of inner conflict about her accomplishments. Rather than simply giving all credit to God, Gottlieb observes, she agonizes incessantly that “any taking credit for her accomplishments – if only internally – is sinful” and hence, perhaps, requires a price to be paid.

A mild secular analog, he says, might be an executive who commits a horrific social gaffe at the instant of a crucial promotion. For Teresa, “an occasion for a modicum of joy initiated a significant quantity of misery,” and her subsequent successes led her to perpetuate it.

Gottlieb also suggests that starting her ministry “may have marked a turning point in her relationship with Jesus,” whose urgent claims she was finally in a position to fulfill. Being the active party, he speculates, might have scared her, and in the end, the only way to accomplish great things might have been in the permanent and less risky role of the spurned yet faithful lover.

The atheist position is simpler. In 1948, Hitchens ventures, Teresa finally woke up, although she could not admit it. He likens her to die-hard Western communists late in the cold war: “There was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance,” he says. “They thought, ‘Jesus, the Soviet Union is a failure, [but] I’m not supposed to think that. It means my life is meaningless.’ They carried on somehow, but the mainspring was gone. And I think once the mainspring is gone, it cannot be repaired.” That, he says, was Teresa.

Most religious readers will reject that explanation, along with any that makes her the author of her own misery – or even defines it as true misery. Martin, responding to the torch-song image of Teresa, counterproposes her as the heroically constant spouse. “Let’s say you’re married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament.

And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she’s comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It’s like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she’s silent and that what you’re doing makes sense. Mother Teresa knew that what she was doing made sense.”

Integration

I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in … years – I have come to love the darkness – for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a ‘spiritual side of your work’ as you wrote – Today really I felt a deep joy – that Jesus can’t go anymore through the agony – but that He wants to go through it in me.
– to Neuner, Circa 1961

There are two responses to trauma: to hold onto it in all its vividness and remain its captive, or without necessarily “conquering” it, to gradually integrate it into the day-by-day. After more than a decade of open-wound agony, Teresa seems to have begun regaining her spiritual equilibrium with the help of a particularly perceptive adviser. The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her “darkness,” he seems to have told her the three things she needed to hear: that there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a “sure sign” of his “hidden presence” in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the “spiritual side” of her work for Jesus.

This counsel clearly granted Teresa a tremendous sense of release. For all that she had expected and even craved to share in Christ’s Passion, she had not anticipated that she might recapitulate the particular moment on the Cross when he asks, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

The idea that rather than a nihilistic vacuum, his felt absence might be the ordeal she had prayed for, that her perseverance in its face might echo his faith unto death on the Cross, that it might indeed be a grace, enhancing the efficacy of her calling, made sense of her pain. Neuner would later write, “It was the redeeming experience of her life when she realized that the night of her heart was the special share she had in Jesus’ passion.” And she thanked Neuner profusely: “I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in … years – I have come to love the darkness. ”

Not that it didn’t continue to torment her. Years later, describing the joy in Jesus experienced by some of her nuns, she observed dryly to Neuner, “I just have the joy of having nothing – not even the reality of the Presence of God [in the Eucharist].” She described her soul as like an “ice block.” Yet she recognized Neuner’s key distinction, writing, “I accept not in my feelings – but with my will, the Will of God – I accept His will.” Although she still occasionally worried that she might “turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness,” with the passage of years the absence morphed from a potential wrecking ball into a kind of ragged cornerstone. Says Gottlieb, the psychoanalyst:

“What is remarkable is that she integrated it in a way that enabled her to make it the organizing center of her personality, the beacon for her ongoing spiritual life.” Certainly, she understood it as essential enough to project it into her afterlife. “If I ever become a Saint – I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven – to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth,” she wrote in 1962.

Theologically, this is a bit odd since most orthodox Christianity defines heaven as God’s eternal presence and doesn’t really provide for regular no-shows at the heavenly feast. But it is, Kolodiejchuk suggests, her most moving statement, since the sacrifice involved is infinite. “When she wrote, ‘I am willing to suffer … for all eternity, if this [is] possible,'” he says, “I said, Wow.”

He contends that the letters reveal her as holier than anyone knew. However formidable her efforts on Christ’s behalf, it is even more astounding to realize that she achieved them when he was not available to her – a bit like a person who believes she can’t walk winning the Olympic 100 meters. Kolodiejchuk goes even further.

Catholic theologians recognize two types of “dark night”: the first is purgative, cleansing the contemplative for a “final union” with Christ; the second is “reparative,” and continues after such a union, so that he or she may participate in a state of purity even closer to that of Jesus and Mary, who suffered for human salvation despite being without sin. By the end, writes Kolodiejchuk, “by all indications this was the case with Mother Teresa.” That puts her in rarefied company.

A New Ministry

If this brings You glory – if souls are brought to you – with joy I accept all to the end of my life.
– to Jesus, undated

But for most people, Teresa’s ranking among Catholic saints may be less important than a more general implication of Come Be My Light: that if she could carry on for a half-century without God in her head or heart, then perhaps people not quite as saintly can cope with less extreme versions of the same problem. One powerful instance of this may have occurred very early on.

In 1968, British writer-turned-filmmaker Malcolm Muggeridge visited Teresa. Muggeridge had been an outspoken agnostic, but by the time he arrived with a film crew in Calcutta he was in full spiritual-search mode. Beyond impressing him with her work and her holiness, she wrote a letter to him in 1970 that addressed his doubts full-bore. “Your longing for God is so deep and yet He keeps Himself away from you,” she wrote. “He must be forcing Himself to do so – because he loves you so much – the personal love Christ has for you is infinite – The Small difficulty you have re His Church is finite – Overcome the finite with the infinite.” Muggeridge apparently did.

He became an outspoken Christian apologist and converted to Catholicism in 1982. His 1969 film, Something Beautiful for God, supported by a 1971 book of the same title, made Teresa an international sensation.

At the time, Muggeridge was something of a unique case. A child of privilege who became a minor celebrity, he was hardly Teresa’s target audience. Now, with the publication of Come Be My Light, we can all play Muggeridge. Kolodiejchuk thinks the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. ”

The tendency in our spiritual life but also in our more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on,” he says. “And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability. Mother Teresa wasn’t ‘feeling’ Christ’s love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4:30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, ‘Your happiness is all I want.’ That’s a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms.”

America’s Martin wants to talk precisely in religious terms. “Everything she’s experiencing,” he says, “is what average believers experience in their spiritual lives writ large. I have known scores of people who have felt abandoned by God and had doubts about God’s existence. And this book expresses that in such a stunning way but shows her full of complete trust at the same time.” He takes a breath.

“Who would have thought that the person who was considered the most faithful woman in the world struggled like that with her faith?” he asks. “And who would have thought that the one thought to be the most ardent of believers could be a saint to the skeptics?” Martin has long used Teresa as an example to parishioners of self-emptying love. Now, he says, he will use her extraordinary faith in the face of overwhelming silence to illustrate how doubt is a natural part of everyone’s life, be it an average believer’s or a world-famous saint’s.

Into the Light of Day

Please destroy any letters or anything I have written.
– to Picachy, April 1959

Consistent with her ongoing fight against pride, Teresa’s rationale for suppressing her personal correspondence was “I want the work to remain only His.” If the letters became public, she explained to Picachy, “people will think more of me – less of Jesus.”

The particularly holy are no less prone than the rest of us to misjudge the workings of history – or, if you will, of God’s providence. Teresa considered the perceived absence of God in her life as her most shameful secret but eventually learned that it could be seen as a gift abetting her calling. If her worries about publicizing it also turn out to be misplaced – if a book of hasty, troubled notes turns out to ease the spiritual road of thousands of fellow believers, there would be no shame in having been wrong – but happily, even wonderfully wrong – twice.


Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith …

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By DAVID VAN BIEMA

Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the “Saint of the Gutters,” went to Oslo. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her.

“It is not enough for us to say, ‘I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'” she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had “[made] himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one.” Jesus’ hunger, she said, is what “you and I must find” and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world “that radiating joy is real” because Christ is everywhere – “Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive.”

Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, – Listen and do not hear – the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me – that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama.

Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction – that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.

And in fact, that appears to be the case. A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works.

The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever – or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and – except for a five-week break in 1959 – never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain.

In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. 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.” Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light’s editor: “I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her.”

The book is hardly the work of some antireligious investigative reporter who Dumpster-dived for Teresa’s correspondence. Kolodiejchuk, a senior Missionaries of Charity member, is her postulator, responsible for petitioning for her sainthood and collecting the supporting materials. (Thus far she has been beatified; the next step is canonization.) The letters in the book were gathered as part of that process.

The church anticipates spiritually fallow periods. Indeed, the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the “dark night” of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters. Teresa’s may be the most extensive such case on record. (The “dark night” of the 18th century mystic St. Paul of the Cross lasted 45 years; he ultimately recovered.)

Yet Kolodiejchuk sees it in St. John’s context, as darkness within faith. Teresa found ways, starting in the early 1960s, to live with it and abandoned neither her belief nor her work. Kolodiejchuk produced the book as proof of the faith-filled perseverance that he sees as her most spiritually heroic act.

Two very different Catholics predict that the book will be a landmark. The Rev. Matthew Lamb, chairman of the theology department at the conservative Ave Maria University in Florida, thinks Come Be My Light will eventually rank with St. Augustine’s Confessions and Thomas Merton‘s The Seven Storey Mountain as an autobiography of spiritual ascent. Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book “a new ministry for Mother Teresa, a written ministry of her interior life,” and says, “It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone.”

Not all atheists and doubters will agree. Both Kolodiejchuk and Martin assume that Teresa’s inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn’t there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work. But to the U.S.’s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book’s Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned.

Says Christopher Hitchens, author of The Missionary Position, a scathing polemic on Teresa, and more recently of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: “She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself.” Meanwhile, some familiar with the smiling mother’s extraordinary drive may diagnose her condition less as a gift of God than as a subconscious attempt at the most radical kind of humility: she punished herself with a crippling failure to counterbalance her great successes.

Come Be My Light is that rare thing, a posthumous autobiography that could cause a wholesale reconsideration of a major public figure – one way or another. It raises questions about God and faith, the engine behind great achievement, and the persistence of love, divine and human. That it does so not in any organized, intentional form but as a hodgepodge of desperate notes not intended for daylight should leave readers only more convinced that it is authentic – and that they are, somewhat shockingly, touching the true inner life of a modern saint.

Prequel: Near Ecstatic Communion

[Jesus:] Wilt thou refuse to do this for me? … You have become my Spouse for my love – you have come to India for Me. The thirst you had for souls brought you so far – Are you afraid to take one more step for Your Spouse – for me – for souls? Is your generosity grown cold? Am I a second to you?
[Teresa:] Jesus, my own Jesus – I am only Thine – I am so stupid – I do not know what to say but do with me whatever You wish – as You wish – as long as you wish. [But] why can’t I be a perfect Loreto Nun – here – why can’t I be like everybody else.


[Jesus:] I want Indian Nuns, Missionaries of Charity, who would be my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying and the little children … You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful but just because you are that – I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?


– in a prayer dialogue recounted to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier, January 1947

On Sept. 10, 1946, after 17 years as a teacher in Calcutta with the Loreto Sisters (an uncloistered, education-oriented community based in Ireland), Mother Mary Teresa, 36, took the 400-mile (645-km) train trip to Darjeeling. She had been working herself sick, and her superiors ordered her to relax during her annual retreat in the Himalayan foothills. On the ride out, she reported, Christ spoke to her. He called her to abandon teaching and work instead in “the slums” of the city, dealing directly with “the poorest of the poor” – the sick, the dying, beggars and street children.

“Come, Come, carry Me into the holes of the poor,” he told her. “Come be My light.” The goal was to be both material and evangelistic – as Kolodiejchuk puts it, “to help them live their lives with dignity [and so] encounter God’s infinite love, and having come to know Him, to love and serve Him in return.”

It was wildly audacious – an unfunded, single-handed crusade (Teresa stipulated that she and her nuns would share their beneficiaries’ poverty and started out alone) to provide individualized service to the poorest in a poor city made desperate by riots. The local Archbishop, Ferdinand PÉrier, was initially skeptical. But her letters to him, preserved, illustrate two linked characteristics – extreme tenacity and a profound personal bond to Christ. When PÉrier hesitated, Teresa, while calling herself a “little nothing,” bombarded him with notes suggesting that he refer the question to an escalating list of authorities – the local apostolic delegation, her Mother General, the Pope.

And when she felt all else had failed, she revealed the spiritual topper: a dramatic (melodramatic, really) dialogue with a “Voice” she eventually revealed to be Christ’s. It ended with Jesus’ emphatic reiteration of his call to her: “You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful but just because you are that – I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?”

Mother Teresa had visions, including one of herself conversing with Christ on the Cross. Her confessor, Father Celeste Van Exem, was convinced that her mystical experiences were genuine. “[Her] union with Our Lord has been continual and so deep and violent that rapture does not seem very far,” he commented. Teresa later wrote simply, “Jesus gave Himself to me.”

Then on Jan. 6, 1948, PÉrier, after consulting the Vatican, finally gave permission for Teresa to embark on her second calling. And Jesus took himself away again.

The Onset

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love – and now become as the most hated one – the one – You have thrown away as unwanted – unloved. I call, I cling, I want – and there is no One to answer – no One on Whom I can cling – no, No One. – Alone … Where is my Faith – even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no Faith – I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart – & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them – because of the blasphemy – If there be God – please forgive me – When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven – there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. – I am told God loves me – and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
– addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated

In the first half of 1948, Teresa took a basic medical course before launching herself alone onto the streets of Calcutta. She wrote, “My soul at present is in perfect peace and joy.” Kolodiejchuk includes her moving description of her first day on the job: “The old man lying on the street – not wanted – all alone just sick and dying – I gave him carborsone and water to drink and the old Man – was so strangely grateful …

Then we went to Taltala Bazaar, and there was a very poor woman dying I think of starvation more than TB … I gave her something which will help her to sleep. – I wonder how long she will last.” But two months later, shortly after her major triumph of locating a space for her headquarters, Kolodiejchuk’s files find her troubled. “What tortures of loneliness,” she wrote. “I wonder how long will my heart suffer this?”

This complaint could be understood as an initial response to solitude and hardship were it not for subsequent letters. The more success Teresa had – and half a year later so many young women had joined her society that she needed to move again – the worse she felt. In March 1953, she wrote PÉrier, “Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself – for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.'”

PÉrier may have missed the note of desperation. “God guides you, dear Mother,” he answered avuncularly. “You are not so much in the dark as you think … You have exterior facts enough to see that God blesses your work … Feelings are not required and often may be misleading.” And yet feelings – or rather, their lack – became her life’s secret torment. How can you assume the lover’s ardor when he no longer grants you his voice, his touch, his very presence?

The problem was exacerbated by an inhibition to even describe it. Teresa reported on several occasions inviting a confessor to visit and then being unable to speak. Eventually, one thought to ask her to write the problem down, and she complied. “The more I want him – the less I am wanted,” she wrote PÉrier in 1955. A year later she sounded desolate: “Such deep longing for God – and … repulsed – empty – no faith – no love – no zeal. – [The saving of] Souls holds no attraction – Heaven means nothing – pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”

At the suggestion of a confessor, she wrote the agonized plea that begins this section, in which she explored the theological worst-possible-case implications of her dilemma. That letter and another one from 1959 (“What do I labour for? If there be no God – there can be no soul – if there is no Soul then Jesus – You also are not true”) are the only two that sound any note of doubt of God’s existence. But she frequently bemoaned an inability to pray: “I utter words of Community prayers – and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give – But my prayer of union is not there any longer – I no longer pray.”

As the Missionaries of Charity flourished and gradually gained the attention of her church and the world at large, Teresa progressed from confessor to confessor the way some patients move through their psychoanalysts. Van Exem gave way to PÉrier, who gave way in 1959 to the Rev. (later Cardinal) Lawrence Picachy, who was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Neuner in 1961. By the 1980s the chain included figures such as Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C.

For these confessors, she developed a kind of shorthand of pain, referring almost casually to “my darkness” and to Jesus as “the Absent One.” There was one respite. In October 1958, Pope Pius XII died, and requiem Masses were celebrated around the Catholic world. Teresa prayed to the deceased Pope for a “proof that God is pleased with the Society.” And “then and there,” she rejoiced, “disappeared the long darkness … that strange suffering of 10 years.”

Unfortunately, five weeks later she reported being “in the tunnel” once more. And although, as we shall see, she found a way to accept the absence, it never lifted again. Five years after her Nobel, a Jesuit priest in the Calcutta province noted that “Mother came … to speak about the excruciating night in her soul. It was not a passing phase but had gone on for years.” A 1995 letter discussed her “spiritual dryness.” She died in 1997.

Explanations

Tell me, Father, why is there so much pain and darkness in my soul?
– to the Rev. Lawrence Picachy, August 1959

Why did Teresa’s communication with Jesus, so vivid and nourishing in the months before the founding of the Missionaries, evaporate so suddenly? Interestingly, secular and religious explanations travel for a while on parallel tracks. Both understand (although only one celebrates) that identification with Christ’s extended suffering on the Cross, undertaken to redeem humanity, is a key aspect of Catholic spirituality.

Teresa told her nuns that physical poverty ensured empathy in “giving themselves” to the suffering poor and established a stronger bond with Christ’s redemptive agony. She wrote in 1951 that the Passion was the only aspect of Jesus’ life that she was interested in sharing: “I want to … drink ONLY [her emphasis] from His chalice of pain.” And so she did, although by all indications not in a way she had expected.

Kolodiejchuk finds divine purpose in the fact that Teresa’s spiritual spigot went dry just as she prevailed over her church’s perceived hesitations and saw a successful way to realize Jesus’ call for her. “She was a very strong personality,” he suggests. “And a strong personality needs stronger purification” as an antidote to pride. As proof that it worked, he cites her written comment after receiving an important prize in the Philippines in the 1960s: “This means nothing to me, because I don’t have Him.”

And yet “the question is, Who determined the abandonment she experienced?” says Dr. Richard Gottlieb, a teacher at the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute who has written about the church and who was provided a copy of the book by TIME. “Could she have imposed it on herself?” Psychologists have long recognized that people of a certain personality type are conflicted about their high achievement and find ways to punish themselves.

Gottlieb notes that Teresa’s ambitions for her ministry were tremendous. Both he and Kolodiejchuk are fascinated by her statement, “I want to love Jesus as he has never been loved before.” Remarks the priest: “That’s a kind of daring thing to say.” Yet her letters are full of inner conflict about her accomplishments. Rather than simply giving all credit to God, Gottlieb observes, she agonizes incessantly that “any taking credit for her accomplishments – if only internally – is sinful” and hence, perhaps, requires a price to be paid.

A mild secular analog, he says, might be an executive who commits a horrific social gaffe at the instant of a crucial promotion. For Teresa, “an occasion for a modicum of joy initiated a significant quantity of misery,” and her subsequent successes led her to perpetuate it.

Gottlieb also suggests that starting her ministry “may have marked a turning point in her relationship with Jesus,” whose urgent claims she was finally in a position to fulfill. Being the active party, he speculates, might have scared her, and in the end, the only way to accomplish great things might have been in the permanent and less risky role of the spurned yet faithful lover.

The atheist position is simpler. In 1948, Hitchens ventures, Teresa finally woke up, although she could not admit it. He likens her to die-hard Western communists late in the cold war: “There was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance,” he says. “They thought, ‘Jesus, the Soviet Union is a failure, [but] I’m not supposed to think that. It means my life is meaningless.’ They carried on somehow, but the mainspring was gone. And I think once the mainspring is gone, it cannot be repaired.” That, he says, was Teresa.

Most religious readers will reject that explanation, along with any that makes her the author of her own misery – or even defines it as true misery. Martin, responding to the torch-song image of Teresa, counterproposes her as the heroically constant spouse. “Let’s say you’re married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament.

And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she’s comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It’s like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she’s silent and that what you’re doing makes sense. Mother Teresa knew that what she was doing made sense.”

Integration

I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in … years – I have come to love the darkness – for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a ‘spiritual side of your work’ as you wrote – Today really I felt a deep joy – that Jesus can’t go anymore through the agony – but that He wants to go through it in me.
– to Neuner, Circa 1961

There are two responses to trauma: to hold onto it in all its vividness and remain its captive, or without necessarily “conquering” it, to gradually integrate it into the day-by-day. After more than a decade of open-wound agony, Teresa seems to have begun regaining her spiritual equilibrium with the help of a particularly perceptive adviser. The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her “darkness,” he seems to have told her the three things she needed to hear: that there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a “sure sign” of his “hidden presence” in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the “spiritual side” of her work for Jesus.

This counsel clearly granted Teresa a tremendous sense of release. For all that she had expected and even craved to share in Christ’s Passion, she had not anticipated that she might recapitulate the particular moment on the Cross when he asks, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

The idea that rather than a nihilistic vacuum, his felt absence might be the ordeal she had prayed for, that her perseverance in its face might echo his faith unto death on the Cross, that it might indeed be a grace, enhancing the efficacy of her calling, made sense of her pain. Neuner would later write, “It was the redeeming experience of her life when she realized that the night of her heart was the special share she had in Jesus’ passion.” And she thanked Neuner profusely: “I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in … years – I have come to love the darkness. ”

Not that it didn’t continue to torment her. Years later, describing the joy in Jesus experienced by some of her nuns, she observed dryly to Neuner, “I just have the joy of having nothing – not even the reality of the Presence of God [in the Eucharist].” She described her soul as like an “ice block.” Yet she recognized Neuner’s key distinction, writing, “I accept not in my feelings – but with my will, the Will of God – I accept His will.” Although she still occasionally worried that she might “turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness,” with the passage of years the absence morphed from a potential wrecking ball into a kind of ragged cornerstone. Says Gottlieb, the psychoanalyst:

“What is remarkable is that she integrated it in a way that enabled her to make it the organizing center of her personality, the beacon for her ongoing spiritual life.” Certainly, she understood it as essential enough to project it into her afterlife. “If I ever become a Saint – I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven – to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth,” she wrote in 1962.

Theologically, this is a bit odd since most orthodox Christianity defines heaven as God’s eternal presence and doesn’t really provide for regular no-shows at the heavenly feast. But it is, Kolodiejchuk suggests, her most moving statement, since the sacrifice involved is infinite. “When she wrote, ‘I am willing to suffer … for all eternity, if this [is] possible,'” he says, “I said, Wow.”

He contends that the letters reveal her as holier than anyone knew. However formidable her efforts on Christ’s behalf, it is even more astounding to realize that she achieved them when he was not available to her – a bit like a person who believes she can’t walk winning the Olympic 100 meters. Kolodiejchuk goes even further.

Catholic theologians recognize two types of “dark night”: the first is purgative, cleansing the contemplative for a “final union” with Christ; the second is “reparative,” and continues after such a union, so that he or she may participate in a state of purity even closer to that of Jesus and Mary, who suffered for human salvation despite being without sin. By the end, writes Kolodiejchuk, “by all indications this was the case with Mother Teresa.” That puts her in rarefied company.

A New Ministry

If this brings You glory – if souls are brought to you – with joy I accept all to the end of my life.
– to Jesus, undated

But for most people, Teresa’s ranking among Catholic saints may be less important than a more general implication of Come Be My Light: that if she could carry on for a half-century without God in her head or heart, then perhaps people not quite as saintly can cope with less extreme versions of the same problem. One powerful instance of this may have occurred very early on.

In 1968, British writer-turned-filmmaker Malcolm Muggeridge visited Teresa. Muggeridge had been an outspoken agnostic, but by the time he arrived with a film crew in Calcutta he was in full spiritual-search mode. Beyond impressing him with her work and her holiness, she wrote a letter to him in 1970 that addressed his doubts full-bore. “Your longing for God is so deep and yet He keeps Himself away from you,” she wrote. “He must be forcing Himself to do so – because he loves you so much – the personal love Christ has for you is infinite – The Small difficulty you have re His Church is finite – Overcome the finite with the infinite.” Muggeridge apparently did.

He became an outspoken Christian apologist and converted to Catholicism in 1982. His 1969 film, Something Beautiful for God, supported by a 1971 book of the same title, made Teresa an international sensation.

At the time, Muggeridge was something of a unique case. A child of privilege who became a minor celebrity, he was hardly Teresa’s target audience. Now, with the publication of Come Be My Light, we can all play Muggeridge. Kolodiejchuk thinks the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. ”

The tendency in our spiritual life but also in our more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on,” he says. “And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability. Mother Teresa wasn’t ‘feeling’ Christ’s love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4:30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, ‘Your happiness is all I want.’ That’s a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms.”

America’s Martin wants to talk precisely in religious terms. “Everything she’s experiencing,” he says, “is what average believers experience in their spiritual lives writ large. I have known scores of people who have felt abandoned by God and had doubts about God’s existence. And this book expresses that in such a stunning way but shows her full of complete trust at the same time.” He takes a breath.

“Who would have thought that the person who was considered the most faithful woman in the world struggled like that with her faith?” he asks. “And who would have thought that the one thought to be the most ardent of believers could be a saint to the skeptics?” Martin has long used Teresa as an example to parishioners of self-emptying love. Now, he says, he will use her extraordinary faith in the face of overwhelming silence to illustrate how doubt is a natural part of everyone’s life, be it an average believer’s or a world-famous saint’s.

Into the Light of Day

Please destroy any letters or anything I have written.
– to Picachy, April 1959

Consistent with her ongoing fight against pride, Teresa’s rationale for suppressing her personal correspondence was “I want the work to remain only His.” If the letters became public, she explained to Picachy, “people will think more of me – less of Jesus.”

The particularly holy are no less prone than the rest of us to misjudge the workings of history – or, if you will, of God’s providence. Teresa considered the perceived absence of God in her life as her most shameful secret but eventually learned that it could be seen as a gift abetting her calling. If her worries about publicizing it also turn out to be misplaced – if a book of hasty, troubled notes turns out to ease the spiritual road of thousands of fellow believers, there would be no shame in having been wrong – but happily, even wonderfully wrong – twice.


We Have Failed to Remember …

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Writing along the lines starting at my last post, “Custodians of a Living Earth,” we take a more serious look at the past for guidance for the future. With all the wars in the world and all the conflict in many areas of the world like the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Iraq and Afghanistan:

“We have Failed to Remember and We have Failed in Never letting this Happen Again.” 

I have updated my header with images from that period of time. I happen to have spent an entire semester last Fall 2006 studying the Holocaust. We watched film after film, looking at raw data and Nazi history. I read “Night” by Elie Wiesel and “Survival in Auschwitz” by Primo Levi and I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Montreal and these numbers come from research notes from our class. My goal here is to remind you that we may not call it Holocaust today, Some use the term “Genocide” and millions of people are dying all over the world by war, conflict, division, famine, disasters and so forth and so on…

It Falls to Us to make a Difference, I Wonder if We are Able???
And do We care to even Try? We Must DO there is no Try !!!

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Auschwitz-Birkenau

The largest Nazi extermination camp.

  • Location: Oswiecim, Poland
  • Established: May 26th1940
  • Liberation: January 27th, 1945, by the Soviet Army.
  • Estimated number of victims: 2,1 to 2,5 million (This estimated number of death is considered by historians as a strict minimum. The real number of death is unknown but probably much higher, maybe 4 millions)

Belzec
From march 1942 until early 1943, it is estimated that about 600,000 Jews were murdered in Belzec extermination camp.

Chelmno:
C
helmno, also known as Kulmhof, was a small town roughly 50 miles from the city of Lodz, Poland. It was here that the first mass killings of Jews by gas took place as part of the ‘Final Solution’.

Majdanek
The killing operations began in Majdanek in April 1942 and ended in July 1944. Majdanek also provided slave labor for munitions works and Steyr-Daimler- Puch weapons factory. The estimated number of deaths is 360,000, including Jews, Soviet POWs and Poles.

Sobibor
Sobibor was the second extermination camp to come into operation in the Aktion Reinhard program. Estimated number of deaths: 250,000, the majority being Jews.

Treblinka
Opening for “business” on July 23, 1942, with the beginning of the evacuation of the Warsaw ghetto, some 245,000 Warsaw Jews and 112,000 Jews from other places in the Warsaw district were murdered in Treblinka by September 21. 337,000 Jews from the Radom district, 35,000 from the Lublin district and 107,000 from the Bialystok district also met their death in Treblinka with 738,000 Jews who had been residents of the General Gouvernement. From outside Poland many thousands of Jews were transported to and killed in Treblinka: 7.000 from Slovakia, 8,000 from Theresienstadt concentration camp, 4,000 Jews from Greece, and 7,000 Jews from the Macedonia portion of Bulgaria. In addition to the Jews, some 2,000 gypsies were killed in Treblinka.

 


Custodians of a Living Earth …

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I’m reading again, “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” and I am in the mindset to write about the custodianship of the living earth. The earth is in a shift, I think we can all agree on that – and attention is now on prevention and maintenance of the earth as it exists today. I have written recently about the fact that many people in my own community are not “Being Maintained” by anyone, they are lost among the crowd, banished to sidewalks, doorways and shelters. What can I do to change that? Write…

What if the governments of the world decided to stop warring and fighting amongst themselves? How much money would we have to spend on other things like food, shelter and water? I heard a comment on late night radio last night that

“There will be wars fought over drinking water!”

I am sure that there are some who think about the Order who seek to bring down the number of earths inhabitants by the millions. There is a surplus in population in certain areas of the world, and for some that is too much, and they would rather see them eradicated than to house and feed them.

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The earth is sputtering on its axis. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Hurricane, Oceanic changes to salinity and food source and the cooling of warm water fisheries all over the globe are causing catastrophic changes to major areas of the worlds oceans. How many more signs do we need from Mother Earth to tell us that something is wrong? And if we don’t stop with our preoccupation with war, division, killing and ignorance, that when “IT” happens we will not survive whatever IT will unleash.

I know better than to sit in my what if’s and coulda, woulda, shoulda! I can look out my windows from here and see trees and grass and the mountain off to the North. We can look out at our world and know that there are forests and people and animals who live amongst that forest. Forests are burning – trees are dying – infestations of beetles are killing swaths of forest across Canada, borne on the winds moving West to East. But I wonder what haven’t we done as custodians of the earth to try and mitigate these things from happening.

What if, The Almighty came down from heaven and told warring factions to lay down their arms, and those in power were removed and power was granted to the masses to govern themselves and the wars stopped all over the earth, not just in certain areas. All the warring areas on the globe. What if we heard from on high that “they” believe that wars fought over ideologies and factions needed to end today, right now, for us to stop killing each other and become custodians to one another. How would that change the face of the earth?

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Is there a way for the world to get up and state unanimously that the wars should end? Can we impeach presidents around the world, in countries that are sponsoring, funding and are waging wars on other peoples? Do you see what I am asking here?

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We truly need to depose several key world leaders, and the American President AND his entire cabinet need to be removed from office, sooner than later. Because America has been hijacked and “Nazi Control” is becoming an adjective to explain George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush, we are not With you –
And We Stand Against You!! It is time to leave Office…

 

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DO WE want to maintain another Hitler in office? Do we want this man making law and imposing unconstitutional amendments upon his people and the world? Because if he does it – the world is watching and you know, the only reason Hitler was so successful at what he did in the Holocaust, was because the people listened to him, and if the American President can do what he is doing, that gives free reign to other leaders to do the same!!! Bush still has the ears of many world leaders, who are not MAN or WOMAN enough to say NO! We will not follow you. So what do we do?

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There are some in power who would see people determined to be locked down and subjugated. That is already happening all over the globe, in many countries. Darfur, Sudan and in other areas of Africa, people are corralled into camps, with no water, electricity or better yet SHELTER. People are being slaughtered by militia men. We need to stop them and the killing needs to end. Genocide is happening in OUR time once again, and on many fronts, we must stop the genocide because:

 

 

 

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

In the Middle East, the most contentious area of the globe, not to mention Iraq and the Fertile Crescent area of the world including Afghanistan, the militias and the Taliban are trying to eradicate (on a mass scale) entire peoples akin to the likes of Adolf Hitler. If we prayed for the savior to come again and save us, this would be the time and the place.

We must now act, decisively and verbally. We need to lobby those who are in power to do the right thing. We need to Impeach the President. We need to stop the killing in Darfur, we need to stop the wars in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. We need people on the ground who can be trusted to help reconcile the factions that are fighting with each other and those factions who have fighting going on within themselves. We need ambassadors to get in the game and negotiations must be made to end the worlds strife and wars. If we don’t start this now, WHO is going to take our place later to hold those in office accountable for

“Crimes Against Humanity”

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It’s not about who – but What is in this photo, read on…

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There are too many people around the globe, being ignored. There are entire continents and nations of people that need to be cared for, not to forget those people in warring countries who need to be fed, re-housed and repatriated back to where they came from, those who had to flee to save their own lives. Rich countries sit back and say “we are doing all we can for those inside our borders.”

Yet on the European continent we know for a fact that there are disenfranchised peoples, in the millions, who are not being cared for properly because of the arrogance of status, ethnic superiority and ignorance to accept everyone for who they are not what form of dress or religious affiliation they identify with.

It comes down to the people to start the tide of Anarchy and Dissension. It is time to take back our land and our government from those who have taken it from us. They have been poor stewards of the land, the environment and of peoples. We must stop this – there is too much conflict in the world, so much that any “other” needs are being ignored at the expense of the whole, for a chosen few.

It Is Time to:

Bring the Soldiers Home – Stop the Wars. You either follow certain prescriptions here: (1) You bring ALL warring leaders to Justice, (2) Let them kill each other and save us the headache, or (3) You bring ‘Just’ Diplomatic Solutions to Warring Factions and Areas – and Sit Down and HAMMER out Peace Agreements and Co-Existence Clauses.

Isn’t it time to sit down and think and come to the realization that what war has done for the last 4 years has NOT worked, so let’s allow the Diplomats to work on Peace.

The Mission is NOT Accomplished.

Peace and Democracy has not been attained and WON’T be attained with the present course of action. WAR does not create Democracy – it Breeds Contempt, Rancor, Hatred and brings Division instead of creating Unity.

In Stopping Wars, Governments Agree to Equal care to all Soldiers repatriated home and for their families. And Agree to Rebuild war torn areas with the funds used to carry out war, and Care for those most affected by the war in their Respective regions.

This applies to Canada and the United States and All Countries involved in wars worldwide. It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against WAR!! It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against a President or a sitting Prime Minister.

 

 

Democracy is built on the premise of government for the people by the people !! Well People need to start speaking out for Change…

 

 

The ‘People’ are being AND have been hugely ignored, save those who support the puppet in office and his cronies he protects. The Ship is Sinking – and is Going down. Who is going to save us? It comes down to us, those of us who are writing around the world, to speak up and ask each and every one of our readers to join this movement. To call your leaders and rulers to task, to make them accountable not only to you the citizens of the country that you reside in, but also to the immigrants who have resettled there as well. Leaders need to be accountable to the earth as well.

Or We Shall Pay when Catastrophe Occurs

 

We cannot remain self absorbed and self centered. We must step beyond the borders of nationalism and ethnic superiority. We all must be made equal, in that we must begin to love and take care of each other and to become custodians of the world at large, and it begins with me. It begins with you. It continues with US. We must, with a resounding voice say “we have had enough of this…” It is time to end this.

Before We Kill Each Other Trying to create Peace !!!

 

 

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We must become better custodians to the earth. If we stop the raping and pillaging of the land, we must stop the wars, we must stop the killing of innocents. We must stop the tide of suicide bombers. West and East must come together. The West and The East must agree NEVER to wage war again, however possible that is… We must find peaceful and RIGHT means to the future sustaining of the worlds populations. We MUST find an earthly solution, if we must, a heavenly solution.

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

 

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You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


Rest in Peace – Tammy Faye

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Eternal Rest Grant Her and May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her…

RALEIGH, N.C. – Tammy Faye Messner, who as Tammy Faye Bakker helped her husband, Jim, build a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire and then saw it collapse in disgrace, has died. She was 65.

Messner, who had battled colon cancer since 1996 that more recently spread to her lungs, died at her home Friday, said her booking agent, Joe Spotts. A family service was held Saturday in a private cemetery, where her ashes were interred, he said.

She had frequently spoken about her medical problems, saying she hoped to be an inspiration to others. “Don’t let fear rule your life,” she said. “Live one day at a time, and never be afraid.” But she told well-wishers in a note on her Web site in May that the doctors had stopped trying to treat the cancer.

In an interview with CNN’s Larry King two months later, an emaciated Messner — still using her trademark makeup — said, “I believe when I leave this earth, because I love the Lord, I’m going straight to heaven.” Asked if she had any regrets, Messner said: “I don’t think about it, Larry, because it’s a waste of good brain space.”

For many, the TV image of then-Mrs. Bakker forgiving husband Jim’s infidelities, tears streaking her cheeks with mascara, became a symbol for the wages of greed and hypocrisy in 1980s America.

She divorced her husband of 30 years in 1992 while he was in prison for defrauding millions from followers of their PTL television ministries. The letters stood for “Praise the Lord” or “People that Love.”

Her second husband also served time in prison. She married Roe Messner, who had been the chief builder of the Bakkers’ Heritage USA Christian theme park near Fort Mill, S.C., in 1993. In 1995, he was convicted of bankruptcy fraud, and he spent about two years in prison.

Through it all, Messner kept plugging her faith and herself. She did concerts, a short-lived secular TV talk show and an inspirational videotape. In 2004, she cooperated in the making of a documentary about her struggle with cancer, called “Tammy Faye: Death Defying.”

“I wanted to help people … maybe show the inside (of the experience) and make it a little less frightening,” she said.

That same year, she appeared on the WB reality show “The Surreal Life,” co-starring with former rapper Vanilla Ice, ex-porn star Ron Jeremy and others. She told King in 2004 that she didn’t know who Jeremy was when they met and they became friends.

Messner was never charged with a crime in connection with the Bakker scandal. She said she counted the costs in other ways.

“I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom,” she said in promotional material for her 1996 video “You Can Make It.”


The O.T & the N.T and Biblical Study

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This post originates on Second Thoughts: G-d In Search of Man 

These are just some of my thoughts, free flow information that I wrote my friend Yoel about, I thought I would publish that writing here as well, since we are talking about Christianity.

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This post is so HUGE. The questions are so vast and the response should be as such. I know, from my university experience and in life, most Christians have an elementary understanding of religion, not many people have a secondary school education on scripture exegesis and education on the Old and New Testament. As for your fellow’s questions, he is seeking answers that will come by way of education of a teacher who can enlighten the books of the bible in and of themselves and as an entire work of story telling.

As we know the bible is not a history book, nor is it complete, with so many books missing because of the “churches” sanctioning them, Gnostic texts and those that did not align to the teaching of Holy Mother Church. As we both know that the Old Testament of Judaism is different in scope and inclusion of some books that may not appear in Christians bibles. There is meaning behind the G-d of the Old Testament and the G-d of the New Testament. A reader must first understand the origins of the Old Testament and why stories were told, as the origin of the oral tradition finding its way into the written form as the texts of the bible were translated from the original languages into what we know today.

If one does not have a handle on early Judaic traditions and understands the meaning behind the writing, then why bother asking the questions. The answers are going to be more involved and much explanation (as I see it) comes in the religious education of those who have questions such as these. Without the understanding of Origins, you cannot move into the present. Most Christians will not invest that kind of time to really understand the nuances of writing, the art of story telling, the allegory, the metaphor and the proverb, and the psalm.

What most Christians do not readily understand is the minutiae of biblical writing. Judaism of the Old Testament was based on what was passed down orally and also that there were many authors of the books of the OT. The God of Abraham was, in most cases in the OT a God who punished the “generations” of Jews who had erred; Just look at the Moses story and why they wandered through the desert for 40 years, to cleanse the populations of all those who were part of the occurrences in the desert at Sinai.

The Old Testament God exacted fair punishment on those who did not “Follow the Law!” That is a difference in the OT was the importance of “following the law” the “Customs” and the dietary and religious restrictions and prohibitions of the time. Because if one studies early Christianity, where does that group of early Christians come from, “a sect of Judaism.”

The Old Testament God is the same God as the New Testament. But the spin of the OT was the creation of the world, the garden and Adam and Eve and the stories and journey of the Jews and their generations. There were certain issues that were endemic to the region, and people had specific issues addressed in the OT as they were in the NT, the difference there, is that the New Testament begins with the gospels (Synoptic, Narratives or Jesus).

In the Old Testament we have the fall of eve and the eventual issues of early Judaism. In order to get right with G-d, reparations and sacrifices and prayers had to be said. Abraham was tested in his dealings with G-d and Isaac. I wrote a paper of “Fear and Trembling” on that specific issue. The Jews were the chosen people, though they had their issues.

They waited on the coming of the Messiah. Death or the second coming was “Immanent” that the Messiah was going to come it was just a matter of time, and also they were looking out for him within their ranks, from the lineage of David. Look at the NT based on the OT. There are parallels that are apparent once sought and studied. Prophecies and statements in the Old Testament were made realized in the New Testament.

Jesus, from the line of David, was foretold in the Old Testament. That He would come from the lineage of David, he was not just named in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we start with the birth of Jesus, the census and the fleeing of Joseph and Mary and their eventual landing in Bethlehem. Was that a fluke? No.

Jesus would become the savior. Jesus would be the redemption for the fall of eve for the cleansing of the first original sin. Jesus brought redemption and forgiveness, his life, death and resurrection were necessary to complete G-d’s work on earth. The incarnation, death and resurrection and ascension were G-d made manifest in the world.

The Old Testament is riddled with prophets and prophetic proclamation, as the New Testament is riddled with the words of apostles and prophets, (itinerate preachers like Paul and the disciples after the death of Jesus). Where the OT was led by the men, recorded by the men, the scribes, the priests and other Jewish sages and teachers, ministry was regarded by the men who led families and synagogues.

Where did the teachers come from in the New Testament? From those who would lead the early Christians. The apostles appointed by Jesus, by Paul (Saul) who was a Jesus persecutor turned religious fanatic. Paul was as militant in his belief in Jesus, as he was a militant against him prior to his conversion on the road to Damascus.

Paul and the apostles had issues because early Christians followed Judaic traditions because they were Jews. Paul and the apostles had issues because they knew Jesus and Paul did not. Yet they taught the same message, and they had to figure out how to treat the Jew/Gentile question. The Second Coming was also Immanent to the early Christians as well,  as we know Jesus said that one day we would be with him when He returns.

We are still waiting on the second coming… and at this rate, we might get there quicker than we expected by all the violence and wars raging all over the globe.

The Jews of the Old Testament had their problems; the factions, and the conquerors, the wars and the punishments (Sodom and Gomorrah) and Abraham and Sara and King David and such. Early Christianity saw its problems with the two temples in Judaic history and the movement of Christianity out of Judaism.

Both had their challenges. The Jews had to keep their traditions alive under the oppression of the Romans and other ruling elite. So did the Christians of the New Testament. Jesus was not elite, he was a peasant. His family was poor; they did not have what the elite had.

Yet Early Christianity had its stratifications. The Jews of the Old Testament followed the law to the letter, and there were strict ramification for not following the law. Those laws set down in the Old Testament are some of the most volatile points of discussion and contention for all of Christianity today. Prohibitions of the Old Testament are finger pointing “points” for everything that Christians today abhor, deny and rule out as immoral.

But what they fail to realize is the current of the time, the group that had the issue and what that issue dealt with specifically and how the Jews dealt with the solution when they found a solution. The law was the solution and breaking it, removed you from the whole.

The laws in the New Testament basically follow the laws of the Old Testament. Jesus hands down teachings in the form of allegory, parable and metaphor. And his listeners are supposed to divine the truth for themselves. The Gnostics believed that G-dly power was within us and attainable by knowledge. Jesus spoke of miracles and performed them. He taught right from wrong and he spoke about Love of ALL not just some.

Christians use the Old Testament against the teaching of Love thy neighbor because it is written in the Old Testament “Thou shall not…”

The New Testament is a guide to living a Christian holy life, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, G-d made incarnate among the world. Paul’s epistles are teaching tools, if you look at them closely and you will see that (in my opinion and academic study) that Paul must have had special knowledge that the apostles did not. Yet they all had basic knowledge of Jesus, more so the apostles because they were there.

For Paul he had to minister to the people, most of which were Jews. There were gentile Christians and Jewish Christians. Most of the dilemma Paul had was reconciling the Jews and the gentiles. Yet by that time, Judaism and Christianity had already split, so there were two religious groupings.

The Old Testament is historical but the Bible is not a history book, nor a legal document. It is a window into the past, to show us how life was lived then and it shows us the issues faced by the Jews and the Early Christians THEN, and how we can change our lives in service of G-d as Christians today.

You can’t get a university degree in religion by reading your bible. And without proper biblical study, historical study of scripture and Torah then how can you find answers to your very difficult and heavy questions. This is just the tip of the iceberg in questioning Judaism and Christianity and there is so much information to be learned in order to properly interpret the bible as it is written.


Revolution Church (4 Feb 07)

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The latest “Talk” from Revolution Church is up. Jay is away visiting his mom and we send them our thoughts and prayers. In the meantime you can listen to “How I came to know Grace,” as spoken by Marc Brown. Revolution Church link is: HERE.

Enjoy…


Revolution Church – Sunday talk 21 Jan 07

Jay Bakker

Sunday’s talk by Jay Bakker is up on the site for your study. The topic is Active -vs- Passive Righteousness, from the Letter of Paul to the Galatians. It’s great stuff.

The Rev Church Hyperlink to the Media section:

“GRACE releases sin. PEACE, quiets the conscience.”

“There is something to be said about understanding what grace and forgiveness really is. God loves us just the same, no matter who we are, or what we have done. We can love each other despite our differences. And with that we can being the dialogue to learn from each other, even though we may disagree.”

Jay Bakker…


Eretz Israel

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Last night I received a very special invitation to join a community of writers. This site is called Eretz Israel. I applied for membership and I also applied for a “writer” role in the web site creation. Today I received an answer. I was given the title “Writer” which I am honored and blessed for.

If you would like to check out this site, I encourage you to go take a look (Eretz Israel) You can apply for membership and also apply for a writers position. Yoel Ben Avraham is a very special friend. He lives in Israel and we correspond regularly. He has kindly invited me to join this very special community.

I invite those of you who are interested in contributing to this community let me know and I will send you a personal invitation to join via my account.