The Desire to Desire

I must confess that I find mussaf (and many parts of the rest of davening) very difficult. Frankly, I am unable to feel a longing for a restoration of animal sacrifice. I know I’m supposed to, but I don’t.

My work-around is to make that very lack the focus of my intent during the tefillah. Rather than thinking about qorbanos themselves, I mentally make the tefillah about wanting them. The fact that we haven’t had qorbanos for so many years that it’s hard to realize how much we’re missing from our relationship because of their absence. And that too is a hole I must ask Hashem to fill.

So I found this recent editorial in the New York Daily News (27-Aug-2007) quite meaningful, once stripped of her context and placed into mine.

Mother Teresa, a doubter? Mother Teresa, beatified and likely on her way to canonization, lost in the dark night of the soul? What lessons does that impart to those who looked upon her as a saint upon Earth? Lessons of faith and of charity.

For a half-century Mother Teresa struggled with spiritual agony, not finding the comfort of God. Rather, she wrote, “When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul ….I have no Faith.”

These despairing emotions are disclosed in a collection of letters, which she had asked to be destroyed, but which were saved and now published. In a book by the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, a proponent for her sainthood.

Mother Teresa’s decades of spiritual suffering are nothing less than a testament to the faith she did not think she had. You do not struggle to find something in which you do not believe. You do not mourn the loss of something you do not think exists. (emphasis mine. -mi)

“There is such a terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead,” she wrote. And yet, and yet, she never wavered in labors very few would have strength to continue. Whence came that strength?

Some sour-souled nonbelievers may revel in the revelations. Pity them for their poverty of spirit. Mother Teresa, no matter her doubts, because of her doubts, was poor in everything but spirit.

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