Yet, it would seem that Mother Teresa had no such experiences for most of her life. As Time delicately puts it "for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever." She lived, we are told, "in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain." One of the alleged advantages of religion, we are told, is that it provides solace and comfort -- yet for Mother Teresa, it apparently provided none of that.
Meanwhile, even as she felt this spiritual desolation, she kept of this cheery, peaceful demeanor, pretending she had all the answers, when in fact she had none. She was lying for nearly her whole life:
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.'"
No shit. I always assumed she was sincere, but it now turns out she didn't even believe the crap she was spewing. And of course Time dances around that fact.
There has always been a healthy dose of sadomasochism in the whole Catholic thing, particularly the fixation on Christ's torture and torment -- the whole Passion thing. Which is why Mel Gibson's The Passion has been referred to as a "gay S&M snuff flick." And don't get me started on self-flagellation or the torture devices developed for the Inquisition.
So it's not surprising that her spiritual suffering is twisted around in some weird sadomasochistic tangle and used as a theological selling point:
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. "
Words fail. She didn't feel the presences of God or Jesus, and this made her miserable. But it turns out this is God's blessing after all! What a twisted bit of logic, that.
If she was into the whole suffering thing, great. Whip it. Whip it good. But what makes her sadomasochistic theology so pernicious -- as Christopher Hitchens has noted -- is that she embraced suffering in other people. She thought that the suffering of the poor was very beautiful, and that the world is somehow aided by that misery. And. even worse, she didn't use pain medications in her hospice -- to do so would be to deprive the dying of a chance to suffer, and get closer to God! You know, her own spiritual torment was her own business. But she didn't stop at that -- she had to inflict pain on other people. And her hypocrisy knew no bounds, because when she got sick, Mother Teresa checked into first-rate hospitals. None of this dying-on-a-cot-with-no-painkiller stuff for Mother Teresa.
UPDATE: Ann Althouse has an interesting post on this story, with some links. Quite a few people seem to have picked up on the fact that she refrained from giving painkillers to people at her hospice. I wonder if this inconvenient fact will seep out into the general world?