I don't think that too many Mormons would say that God only speaks to us. To say so would go against some very fundamental Mormon beliefs. At the same time, I have to admit that I have often been skeptical of stories and accounts from people not of my faith, who claim various miracles, visions, revelations, etc. Although we believe in all of the above, I think we are very quick to question such occurrences when they don't come from "one of our own."
Those of you who have read my blog previously know that I've been reading a book about Mother Teresa. (For more info, see posting entitled "Becoming The First Mormon Nun.") Reading about her background and the story of how she came to be the "Saint of Calcutta" has left me with a lot of questions.
I will first say that her utter and complete devotion to Christ is mind-blowing and it is something that perhaps no other human being has accomplished. Now, before you say that all the Christian martyrs have outdone her by sacrificing their lives for Christ, may I remind you that she did indeed sacrifice her life for Christ -- virtually her entire life. She was blessed with a long mortal life, but the poverty, hard work and hardships that she willingly sought and endured would have made her life unbearable for most. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that most people would have preferred death to living her life in the squalour of Calcutta's miserable slums.
While reading Mother Teresa's personal letters and accounts of the visions and conversations she claimed to have with Christ, which were the catalyst for her humanitarian work in Calcutta, I have to shamefully admit that I questioned her state of mind. Not only was she willing to endure extreme hardship, she seemingly took pleasure in it and constantly sought more in order to come closer to Christ, to an extent that I've maybe never seen before. In all honesty, it's possible to see why her faithless critics would accuse her of being deluded or fanatical. Even her superiors questioned for a time whether her "inspiration" truly came from God.
We have been taught how to distinguish between good and evil by the scripture that says:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." (Matthew 7: 15-18)
I'm sure that most of us would agree that Mother Teresa fell into the "good" category, which is evident by the good "fruits" that she produced during her lifetime. I personally believe that she was truly inspired by God to do His work, but if this is so, then it poses a problem for me. If good, God-fearing people seeking His inspiration really receive it, then why doesn't He always give them inspiration that is in accordance with LDS teachings? Why are they sometimes even contrary to what we proclaim to be correct? Why doesn't He inspire them to join the LDS Church if it's the only true Church?
During her visions and conversations with Christ, Mother Teresa was given visions of the Crucifixion. The Blessed Virgin has a central role in these visions and is of significant importance in an unmistakably traditional Catholic manner, even speaking to Mother Teresa herself. Jesus also speaks to her personally, often referring to her as "My little Spouse," an recognition of her "marriage" to Christ in the Catholic nun sense. He says to her:
"Little one, give Me souls -- Give Me the souls of the poor little street children. -- How it hurts, if you only knew, to see these poor children soiled with sin. -- I long for the purity of their love. -- If you would only answer and bring Me these souls -- draw them away from the hands of the evil one. If you only knew how many little ones fall into sin every day."
Mother Teresa goes on to tell of a vision where she encounters Mary:
"Again that great crowd -- I could see great sorrow and suffering in their faces -- I was kneeling near Our Lady, who was facing them. -- I did not see her face but I heard her say "Take care of them -- they are mine. -- Bring them to Jesus -- carry Jesus to them. -- Fear not. Teach them to say the Rosary -- the family Rosary and all will be well. -- Fear not -- Jesus and I will be with you and your children."
So while I personally reject the idea that Mother Teresa was simply deluded or made all this stuff up, I feel conflicted as to why Jesus would speak to her and seemingly confirm children being "soiled with sin," a doctrine that we are taught is wrong and even an "abomination," in regards to infant baptism. As well, why would The Virgin Mary tell her to teach them the Catholic Rosary if it's incorrect doctrine?
I am left with two possibilities:
a) Mother Teresa was divinely inspired.
b) She was simply deluded or the inspiration was not from God.
If a) is true, then there is the doctrinal conflict that I mentioned above. If b) is true, then it is in conflict with the scripture from Matthew 7 that I quoted earlier. And on top of that, if b) is true, I cannot help but feel discouraged that God didn't or couldn't lead someone, who was completely willing and able to give her all, to The Truth. Makes it seem all the more hopeless for the rest of us.
What do you think? Are we uncomfortable with miracles and spiritual encounters that don't occur in the "Mormon way?" Are they really from God?