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Oil on Canvas, 2008
24 x 32in

 

(The following was written in 2008)

    I understand that there has been a large debate over whether to make Mother Theresa a Saint, in light of her recently published diaries, which reveal her as a profoundly depressed woman who had utterly lost her faith. Try though she might to regain the feeling of peace and fulfillment that had once been a result of doing "God's Work," - and the only comfort she ever sought in life; she could feel nothing but emptiness and pain, no matter how fierce her sacrifice, how tireless her care for others.  To my eye, that is precisely the reason she should be made a Saint. 
    She represents, to me, the ferocious strength of a habit of Goodness.  Saint Augustine, in The Confessions, discusses how only choices/actions that are evil are easy; but making a choice to do Good takes will/ effort.  That is how sin and corruption can overwhelm the world; they take no effort, and the repetition of them makes them easier still, until they become in fact a necessity.  The cracking of that necessity requires more than will or Goodness, it requires Grace. 
    Mother Theresa belies his claim, that because doing Good takes an active strength of will it can never become habitual.  Mother Theresa persisted in caring long after she ceased to be able to feel any motivating thing - love, interest, pleasure in helping others, even will to live.  She is also an example to those of us who have ever been perverse enough to fear that wanting to help others is just as vain and selfish a pursuit as anything else; in that it can provide a feeling of satisfaction which can be motivational to doing more... and pleasing one's self should never, in the cruelest, strictest interpretations of "Christian" thought, be one's motivation for anything.  She lost the "reward" but persisted in her work, like a dog whose spirit has been broken in order to be trained to a greater cause. 
    I, at least, feel it gives one permission to be grateful for every bit of pleasure one ever has the luxury to feel.  I also think that her extreme black and broken loneliness, emptiness and agony; in spite of the adulation of the crowds,  is rather an important niche in Saint market.  The patron Saint of the Faithless Faithful, the Saint of the souls who persist in love and goodwill long after all hope of it mattering or meaning a damn is lost.