September 14, 2007

Book helps Catholics grow in admiration of Mother Teresa

By Sean Gallagher

A new book about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has garnered attention in recent weeks because of its revelations of how the foundress of the Missionaries of Charity struggled for decades with feelings of being separated from God.

Far from diminishing her in the eyes of many Catholics in Indiana, the book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, has made them admire her all the more.

Patrick McEntee is a religion instructor at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. He spent time with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta and helped them in their ministry to the poor and the dying.

“I am [now] amazed even further by

her example,” he said. “She was able to

do the work I spent a few days doing for 50 years.

“Most of that time, she felt God was

not with her. I can’t imagine the strength she must have had to be able to face the horrors that life can present to so many people.”

Chris Hoyt, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Westfield, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, saw Blessed Teresa’s humanity shine through in the recent


“When I first saw the reports of her writings about her inner struggle of faith and pain caused by the darkness around her, I cried,” said Hoyt, who was received into the full communion of the Church this Easter. “Not because I was disappointed, but because it hit me just how human she really was, and how genuine was her work.

“I myself am tempted to think of Mother Teresa as an exception to the human condition, but that report reminded me that she was a human just like me. She was an imperfect person who faced the full brunt of the darkness of this world and overcame it. If that doesn’t define a saint, I don’t know what does.”

Anne Ryder, a former television news anchor for WTHR Channel 13 in Indianapolis, was the last person granted a television interview with Blessed Teresa. It occurred in Calcutta in 1996.

“I was very distressed at first when I saw some of the media coverage

[concerning the new book] that said she was a sham,” said Ryder, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. “Far from being in a crisis of faith, Mother Teresa, for me, defines faith in the purest sense of the word because she persevered in faith like no one I have ever seen.”

Ryder said that the spiritual darkness that Blessed Teresa inhabited for so long can serve to bring together people of deep faith and people who struggle to believe.

“She is the connector for everyone who is in darkness,” Ryder said, “and I mean people of faith and people of no faith. It’s enough to bring them to the table and just make them say, ‘Goodness, didn’t she have perseverance. Isn’t this what faith is truly all about: putting one foot in front of the other when there is nothing to go on?’ ”

Missionary of Charity Sister Ita, superior of her order’s convent in Indianapolis, did not comment directly on the book or the controversy now swirling around it.

She did speak, however, about how Blessed Teresa can help those struggling with questions of faith.

Ultimately, for Sister Ita, if one’s faith is weak, it can grow through putting it in action.

“The Gospel is about action,” she said. “That’s what the Good News is. It’s action.

“Jesus is very challenging, and he’s very demanding. Mother took up those challenges and she lived the Gospel,” Sister Ita said, “and God gave her to us to show us how to live the Gospel also.” †

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