Mother Teresa's '40-year faith crisis'

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Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who may be canonised as a saint by the Vatican later this year, had a deep crisis of faith in God for the last 40 years of her life, according to a new set of her letters.

The correspondence, which spans most of Mother Teresa's life, shows that she felt alone and in a state of spiritual pain from around 1949, roughly the time when she started taking care of the poor and dying in Calcutta.

Although she publicly proclaimed that her heart belonged"entirely to the Heart of Jesus", she wrote to the Rev Michael Van Der Peet, a spiritual confidant, in September 1979 that"Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak."

HNN Editor: The media have made much of this story over the last two days (see Time Magazine cover story). But this is not the first time Mother Teresa's doubts have been reported. On September 7, 2001 CNN reported:"Mother Teresa's letters reveal doubts":

Mother Teresa, the late Roman Catholic nun whose aid for the poor put her on the path to sainthood, at times felt abandoned by God, according to her recently released letters.

The letters, written by Mother Teresa in the 1950s and 1960s to her church spiritual guides, also reveal the troubling and, at times, painful conflicts she sometimes had with her faith.

"I am told God lives in me -- and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul," she wrote in one of the letters.

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