Unlike many other emotions, embarrassment must be learned. Infants know nothing of this emotion, and parents often use the threat of embarrassment to teach young children correct and incorrect behavior: “If you say that in public, you’ll embarrass yourself,” we say to the toddler with a penchant for scatological chitchat. Embarrassment is also a social emotion; its occurrence requires the real or imagined presence of others. Belch at a dinner party and you will likely feel embarrassed; do it while home alone and you’re unlikely to feel abashed. Because it is a learned behavior grounded in social relations, embarrassment is a kind of barometer for a society’s notions of civility.
This week’s Time magazine discusses a side of Mother Teresa that we have never seen. Titled, “The Secret Life of Mother Teresa,” I half expected a laundry list of conceivable ills, a pregnancy, drugs, an eating disorder, mental illness. Somehting juicy enough for Entertainment Tonight.
It’s not. Her letters, which she asked to be burned, reveal that for majority of her life — the life that she used to give love to so many people was one of extreme loneliness for the Presence she spoke for. Her letters reveal how she suffered from His silence. Confessor after confessor downplayed this longing, almost chastising her for feeling this way. Siyempre I kept thinking na sana she talked to a woman, she would have gotten her answer much earlier. Until she did find a confessor who said that perhaps it this absence, this longing which really confirmed that God did exist. The article said this finally released her from the suffering, in the sense that she learned to live with the darkness, in the loneliness.
So the atheists are all using this to further prove that God doesn’t exist that perhaps Mother Teresa woke up and she realized how religion was really [insert appropriate label here] while those who believe in God take it to mean that perhaps she shared in the cup of Christ, in his Passion to a different degree.
The value of this revelation, more than anything, humanizes Mother Teresa. She was not some crazy mystic hopped up on happy drugs able to give more than she had inside. But the way I use humanize doesn’t mean a de-ranking of some sort. In the same manner, that becoming human didn’t lower Christ, it merely elevated what it meant to be human.
Because really when you look at what she has done for so many people, you can’t help feeling that she was of another material all together. She held out her hand, pulled people close even when she herself felt only real despair, real silence from whom she served so faithfully.
The fact that she doubted does prove to be a comfort for the struggling Christian, trying to reconcile all this happy-wappy love doctrine from the New Testament with the fire and brimstone of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelations. It does further the frustrating facet of our faith which likes to tell us the God does work in mysterious ways. Not the song and dance kind, but in the unfathomable, you take my breath away kind.
It also somehow makes me able to look at God in a more intimate manner, that I want to ask him, what the hell are you doing? even if I may not like the answer or ever get one.
I like that with this invasion of her privacy, faith truly becomes more mind-blowing. That it can still be surprising, that it is still beyond the most self-righteous pompous representative’s ( bearer of the word/dogma/doctrine of God) hands.
it baffles the mind. and again, i see why we kneel. and I understand more why free will exists.
to me, Mother Teresa has become someone I can really believe in now. Jesus in the garden asking, begging the Father to take this cup away from Him is a more powerful thing. There is more than what we see in these stories.
I am left in tears, in fear actually, but like there is worth in all this.
I just hope now Mother Teresa has found her peace.
(subject from one of Mother Teresa’s letters.)