Monday, September 17, 2007

Fr Cantalamessa on Mother Teresa

The ‘Atheism’ of Mother Teresa

She became poor to serve the materially poor — did she similarly share the sufferings of the spiritually poor? Read the article.

1 comment:

David Nybakke said...

Fr Cantalamessa ends the article:
Because of this the mystics are the ideal evangelizers in the post-modern world, where one lives etsi Deus non daretur (as if God did not exist).

Karl Rahner was right to say: “Christianity of the future, will either be mystical or it will not be at all.” Padre Pio and Mother Teresa are the answer to this sign of the times.

We should not “waste” the saints, reducing them to distributors of graces or of good examples.

If as Fr Cantalamessa talks of in this article, the experience of the mystics and atheists are so close I think it would be interesting to ponder their ontological moorings in light of what we know through mimetic theory. (BTW: It is in this difference, between the mystic and atheist, that we can take notice of the key to true selfhood.)

Bailie writes in his Vine and Branches Discourse: Here is the mimetic double-bind, the twin imperative: imitate and be unique and "authentic." This is a tension resolved in Christian spirituality (and where else?) by the Imitatio Christi, the imitation of One whose sole imitable desire is to imitate the kenotic self-giving of the One who sent him. In order to carry on the charade of self-sufficiency, the autonomous individual must submit to a rigorous discipline, an almost Buddha-like monitoring of his or her desire, lest tale-tale signs of imitation belie the whole effort. In truth, the desire to imitate may be the only desire properly speaking that isn't imitative; it is the affective sine qua non of human existence, the ultimate truth about a creature whose bedrock reality, to speak again in the biblical idiom, is having been made in the image and likeness of another. Once this desire has no truly transcendent referent, it will inevitably make idols of those whose social prestige it initially reinforces and eventually resents. As the fact of the idol's lack of true transcendence emerges, and the idol worshiper's (false) ontological moorings crumble, the erstwhile idolater must try to fashion some form of pseudo-transcendence out of whatever is at hand.

Bailie continued: Pedro Morandé has observed: "the longing for unconditional self-giving, which constitutes the deepest vocation of the human heart, cannot be rooted out" (152). If that is true, then the only question is: how will this longing be expressed by those made desperate by a withering of their ontological substance? Such a one was Sylvia Plath. "Potential mystics, or mystics in the primitive state," said Henri de Lubac, "are scattered in the world. These, above all, are the ones who must be reached" (cited by von Balthasar 1991, 101). Surely, the Sylvia Plath who wrote these lines can be considered a potential mystic. Our world is full of them.

Aramis here, and I admit that I am not too sure that atheist Christopher Hitchens can be talked about in the same breath with Sylvia Plath. But I do believe that this tracking of ontological moorings is of great importance today.