The recent publishing of Mother Teresa's letters filled with doubt and despair has led many to either praise or pity her. I, along with leading atheist Christopher Hitchens, feel great pity for this brave woman but for different reasons.
Hitchens, in an article for Newsweek magazine (Sept. 10, 2007 - The Dogmatic Doubter) feels sorry for the little nun who devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor of Calcutta's slums because she did so without the faith to support her efforts:
"...the church should have the elementary decency to let the earth lie lightly on this troubled and miserable lady and not invoke her long anguish to recruit the credulous to a blind faith in which she herself had long ceased to believe."
This voice for atheism is correct to feel pity but not because Mother Teresa doubted that there was a God who could give meaning to her considerable sacrifices made in serving others. The real tragedy here is that the means to answer her doubts and build her faith was always at hand but her Catholic training failed to provide her with it.
The doubting nun searched in vain for a confirmation of Christ's presence through her "feelings" and consulted a number of advisors and confessors who each tried to comfort her despair with theological musings about how her lack of faith was somehow God's will in some divine "mystery".
A brief review of the Bible however would have revealed to her what so many others who earnestly searched for God in Christ already knew and rejoiced over...He's right there before you in His Word!
" .. so faith comes from hearing and hearing by the words of Christ " - Romans 10:17
So close, so far, so sad.