The Paradoxes of Mother Teresa | Sojourners

The Paradoxes of Mother Teresa

Like many others, I was moved by her compassion and courage. But that's not what really drew me to her. I was drawn by her doubt.

THE BANNER HANGING from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome showed Mother Teresa, hands clasped, looking out over the 100,000 faithful who had come to celebrate her sainthood. I was part of that crowd last September, and as I looked at that banner I couldn’t tell if her facial expression was a smile or a grimace.

In a museum a few blocks away were glass cases that displayed her sandals, her walking stick, and her blue and white sari, as well as letters, photos, and a timeline charting every major event in her life. In a different cathedral the night before, an orchestra and choir performed a magnificent original oratorio written in her honor.

Under the banner’s gaze at St. Peter’s, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was seated, along with dignitaries from dozens of countries. I wondered what thought bubble would be most appropriate if one suddenly appeared above Mother Teresa’s depiction on the tapestry. I decided it would be this: “If you only knew.”

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