Yesterday, Pope Francis confirmed that Mother Teresa would be canonized a saint on September 4. Mother Teresa is one of the most beloved human beings of our modern times. Her selfless love for the poor untouchables of Calcutta's slums is the sacrifice of legend. The Noble Peace Prize winning nun was so revered that Pope Francis waived the requirement to wait five years after a person's death to begin the process of canonization. Her actions and wise counsel have inspired countless generations.
As part of the canonization process, there emerged a series of letters that Mother Teresa wrote to her spiritual advisor. In those letters Mother Teresa revealed that she sometimes struggled with questions of faith and even the existence of God. Additionally, she revealed that she often suffered with deep bouts of severe depression. Yes, one of the legendary spiritual leaders of our era suffered from doubt and depression.
As someone who suffers from depression, I can attest this disease can evoke deep self doubt and that doubt can be existentially challenging. Some, like the late apostle of atheism Christopher Hitchens, believe that these letters make Mother Teresa"a fanatic, fundamentalist, fraud," who in her dark moments admitted there is no God.
However, I would attest that rather than exposing hypocrisy that Mother Teresa's doubts and depression made her something that is common to so many of us–a human being that suffers with mental illness like hundreds of millions of other human beings on our planet.
When Mother Teresa is officially made a Catholic saint in September, we should all remember–Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and even atheists–that the real miracle of Mother Teresa's life is that she overcame the human frailties of doubt and the disease of severe depression to love others without conditions. Her motives? That they not suffer from the terrible stigma and poverty of feeling judged and unwanted.