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Mother Teresa and the Path of SaintHood

Updated on January 16, 2018
AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

Ashutosh enjoys writing on a variety of subjects including politics, current affairs, social and religious issues.

The Initiation

4th Sep'16, the 19th death anniversary of Mother Teresa and the much awaited big day as thousands of pilgrims, believers and the faithful, gathered at St Peter's Square in the Vatican to witness the birth of a 'saint'. Pope Francis himself presided the canonisation mass. Francis said "after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (now Kolkata) to be a saint, and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church."

Who is a Saint?

A saint is not someone equivalent to god, instead, a believer who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. When the Church declares that a person is a saint, it means that this person is with God, that she or he has the power to intercede with God on our behalf to perform Miracles. Five years or more, post the death of the person the initiation can commence which is referred to as Beatification. At least two miracles are then needed to confer sainthood.

Saint worship or adoration among the Catholics is often debated, as a prayer to anyone other than god is considered anti-biblical. However, for the Catholics, the saint worship or more specifically prayer to a saint is considered as a request to intercede - quite similar to a friend or family member praying on behalf of their loved ones. This again is a line of thought that is challenged for not having any biblical basis.

What is Canonisation all about?

Canonisation is the act by which the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodoxy, Roman Catholic, or Anglican Church declares that a person who has died was a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognised saints.

A Walk into the Past

Mother Teresa was truly a humble and revered personality, often been referred to as the 'saint of gutters' or “apostle of the poor”. A saint not for her beliefs but primarily for her selfless act, for her care and concern for the poor and the destitute. Mother Teresa set up her Missionaries of Charity in the slums of Kolkata in 1950 when she realised her inner calling to serve humanity and then there was no looking back. When she died in September 1997 in Kolkata, around 4,000 Mother Teresa's Sisters worked under her at 610 foundations in 123 countries. For her dedication to the noble cause, she was even felicitated with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Her order Missionaries of Charity attended to the needy, under probably some the most extreme situations and circumstances both in India and around the world.

Though alongside all the admiration and respect, there hasn't been a scarcity of criticism with her being accused of carrying ulterior motives behind her selfless act. Especially of leading or converting the destitute Hindus in India to Christianity. Her order Missionaries of Charity has been staunchly criticised for their practices adopted towards the sick and dying souls. Among her staunch critics were, Anglo-American author and columnist, Christopher Hitchens, investigative journalist Donal Macintyre and even the nuns of her own order, like Colette Livermore.

Source

The Deliberate Path of Miracles

The so-called miracles and the whole concept of journey to sainthood is yet another area of disconnect among the critics.

Here's a little insight into where this all started, post the death of Mother Teresa. A brief account of the two miracles associated with Mother Teresa. In the year 1998, there was news that Monica Besra, a farmer's wife in a village Nakur in West Bengal, India was miraculously cured of her cancer (a tumour). It was said that she had a tumour in her stomach for last 20 years and had lost hope in the doctors and the medication. That's when her sister took her to Missionaries of Charities Centre near her village. She describes “I was too ill to move, but two Sisters supported me there. There was a photograph of Mother Teresa there. When I entered the Church a blinding light emanated from Mother’s photo and enveloped me. I didn’t know what was happening and returned to my bed at the centre as I was too ill." She recalled that in the night one of the sisters brought a medallion of the Mother and tied it to her abdomen after saying a prayer. "At about 1 am, I woke up and saw that my stomach was flat and the tumour was gone. There was no pain. I was so surprised that I woke up the woman in the next bed and told her what had happened. In morning I told the same to the sisters." While Pope John Paul II declared this a miracle in Dec 2002, the doctor treating Besra claimed that the healing was the result of the ongoing treatment.

Similarly, the second miracle revolves around a Brazilian engineer Marcilio Haddad Andrino who was cured out of his brain infection in December 2008. Andrino had been sick for two years before it was discovered he had brain abscesses. He had a supposed miraculous recovery after his wife, prayed to Mother Teresa for help as she watched her husband clinging to life. For both of them, it was the intercession and not the surgery in the intensive care unit that saved his life.

Any sane mind would probably reject these as cooked up stories, simply because they are unpalatable and deceptive. Let's look at some other aspects. It's worth a mention, that the mandatory five year waiting period before formal evaluation of a candidate for beatification was set aside in Mother Teresa's case, as her devotees began pressing the Vatican soon after her death, to expedite her sainthood cause. That leaves behind some pertinent questions-

Why sainthood in the first place, that too defying the norms? Why elevate the stature on a false premise? Most importantly, why propagate lies and make belief theories of the existence of miracles?

Forget skepticism, even for a naive person, let alone a sane mind, these are conclusions, that easily appear to be motivated and blown out of proportion. They simply do not hold any ground. How on earth, can one justify emergence of a divine light or sudden disappearance of a chronic disease? Even if the said persons were suddenly healed, it may very well have been due to the ongoing treatment. But that fact conveniently gets sidelined. This is the reason why these so-called miracles even though embraced by many, have been rubbished by most rationals as a confusion between religion, faith, superstition, and science. The fact remains, the emphasis on such fanciful stories helps create a deceiving line of thoughts that impact one's thought process and judgment. The arguments in favour, quite similar to the miracles themselves are nothing but hyperboles. There's certainly no harm in having faith but faith beyond the 'limit of truth' is a thought to ponder?

Peace

© 2016 Ashutosh Joshi

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    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      8 months ago from New Delhi, India

      I understand, I don't write much and most of my hubs are not that popular either. It may be my writing style or the topics I choose but english is definately not the reason :) For being a third language, its an acquired skill that I continue to polish. You'll notice the difference in your own rightups in just about few months and that kind of helps.

      Coming to the topic, as far as Mother Teresa or rather Saint Teresa is concerned, the good she did will always be acknowledged and appreciated but that doesn't mean, take away the space for critic or us making her a demigod based on some preposterous ideas. Anyway, that's my own understanding. Besides I dont write to please the fanbase.

    • Roohi Bhatnagar profile image

      Roohi 

      8 months ago from Himachal

      Hmm. When in your spotlighted articles, i spotted this one. I felt... Oh !! There is one topic i can relate to. So intrigued i read this one. :)

      Don't want to comment about whether miracles happened or not. That's a decision for each individual's perceptions on faith or no faith. I can't even comment on Grammar :D

      For me your English was good enough. Lolz... Coz i know where i stand. Verbs and tenses are always beyond me,.

      But as for Mother Teresa. I respect her as an exceptional human being. Her Spiritual Views -- i don't always agree with all of them. But choosing the tough life, that she did. And living up to the demands of that kind of life. While never giving up. Is something not many human beings can do. Personally i have read her letters. And know how many times she struggled with her decision and apparent spiritual dry periods. Still she kept hanging on. To be able to give certain happiness and alleviate loneliness of one single person. Is something beyond ordinary human capability. And she showed much perseverance. For that , I respect her immensely.

      Nice research by you ..

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      13 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Thankyou for your comment. Agree with the controversy bit and at the same time I also genuinely appreciate the great deal of humanitarian work she did, especially for the poor and desperate lot.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      13 months ago from USA

      I like the reasoned way you approached this. Your arguments are persuasive. I admire Mother Teresa's devotion to the poor, but even in her lifetime she stirred up a number of controversies. Interesting read.

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      19 months ago from New Delhi, India

      @Yves thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Your words are truly encouraging.

    • savvydating profile image

      Yves 

      19 months ago

      I believe it is important to question everything and I am glad that you do so...

      I appreciate Mother Teresa.

      I appreciate her because, after all, how many people choose to live a "poor man's" life when they don't have to?

      That being said, perhaps not all perceived miracles are true miracles. That I can agree with. In any event, you have done this article justice and I enjoyed reading about your views.

      BTW, don't pay any attention to Oztinato; he insults everyone.

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Miz, Appreciate your views, a much more balanced persepective. Thanks!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Ashutosh, your hub is not poorly written. I am an editor of 33 years, and I might knit-pick out some small errors like comma usage and verb tense, but I'm not going to do that.

      We have to remember that the "saints" of the Catholic Church are just the way of recognizing a job well done in the eyes of the church. Unfortunately, help from organized religion comes with a price. An example is the homeless shelters in the U.S.A. If they are Christian sponsored, a homeless person "pays" for his or her help by listening to a sermon from that church. Some are converted, but a good many are not.

      As far as heavenly intercession goes, I think a person who is strong spiritually usually does not need a personal intercession. However, right now with the condition of the world, we all need to combine our efforts with the heavenly spirits to improve our world. BTW, I am a student of Djwhal Kuhl, whom I understand was a student of Lord Kuthumi, so I hope you know where I am coming from.

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I don't see the reason why people get all worked up when their faith is questioned directly or otherwise. I mean, if it is that weak than what's the point. Raising a question cannot be seen an attack on faith or religion whether its your or mine.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      2 years ago from Brisbane

      Ash

      If you want to question your own faith that's fine. Go ahead. Each of us can only focus on our own faith not someone else's faith. As they say you can't eat for someone else; so why try?

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Poorly written or not, that's not the concern but Questioning Faith surely is. The sole purpose was not try and be offensive or derrogatory towards an individual but rather question the intent of this so called farce of miracle that has been constructed and much hyped for some ulterior motives.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      2 years ago from Brisbane

      A poorly written hub filled with grammatical errors. The line of reasoning fails quickly and suddenly as the hub is way too brief.

      It seems you have faith in your own writing abilities that is not warranted and is " faith beyond a limit of exaggeration".

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