MOSAIC Fall 2016 - Page 12

TIME did a cover story on it. Prominent and grew in the experience of God’s love, chalice of pain and to give Mother Church articles appeared in the New York Times and but she herself for the most part felt only real saints” (p. 141). other major publications. There were many emptiness. The understanding she received from Fatelevision and radio interviews. During the first ten years of this “dark- ther Neuner gave her a measure of peace Some secularists chose to interpret her ness,” she was deeply troubled by it and and even joy, although it didn’t take away talk of darkness as a sign of hypocrisy and sought to understand what was happen- the pain of not being able to experience the even accused her of not really believing in ing by consulting a few trusted priests. She sensible/spiritual consolation of God’s love God. Only a superficial and partial reading wondered if this prolonged darkness was a and favor, which often seemed on the verge of these letters could have occasioned this sign of her great sinfulness and imperfec- of being unbearable. interpretation. tion. Some of the advice she received was Some believers were disturbed and con- helpful but it wasn’t until she met Fr. Jo- Protection Against Pride fused to hear of her prolonged experience seph Neuner, a Jesuit working in India, that Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., of aridity or emptiness in her relationship she came to grasp some of the special mean- in his Advent meditations given in 2003 to with God. Some ing of her suffering. the Holy Father and the papal household, thought the letters He explained to summed up well the reasons why God led were so disturbing her that this wasn’t Mother Teresa by this unusual path—and it was a mistake to the typical “dark the publication of the full text of the letters “The experience of publish them. This night” as described by and the commentary of Father Kolodiejher ‘nothingness’ was last concern, while St. John of the Cross, chuk confirms this interpretation. I actua gift that God gave to understandable, is that it wasn’t just for ally discussed the unique experience of protect her from the unfounded, since the her own purification, Mother Teresa in terms of her “dark night” adulation she would letters in question are but that it was a spe- as interpreted by Father Cantalamessa part of the official recial gift that God was and its relationship to the “ordinary dark receive.” cord compiled in the giving her to partici- nights” as taught by John of the Cross in process of canonizapate in the sufferings chapter XVII of my book on the spiritual tion and are generally of Christ, particularly tradition, The Fulfillment of All Desire: A made public. And by now we must know in Jesus’ own sense of abandonment in his Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the that efforts to “edit” the life or writings of agony in the garden of Gethsemane before Wisdom of the Saints. a saint (as the sisters of Therese of Lisieux his crucifixion. She was forever grateful: Because the Lord knew that the remarktried to do in the case of their sister’s writI can’t express in words the gratitude I able mission that Mother Teresa was underings) only detract from the awesome witness owe you for your kindness to me. For the taking would be blessed greatly and that the to holiness that is found, albeit in somefirst time in these 11 years I have come whole world would come to admire it, it was times unexpected and disturbing ways. to love the darkness. For I believe now important that the special gift of acute “spirI think we will see that in the long run that it is a part, a very, very small part of itual poverty” be given to Mother Teresa as this widespread media attention, even with Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth. You a protection against pride. The experience its imperfections, and the publication of have taught me to accept it as a “spiritual of her “nothingness” and “emptiness” was these letters, will bear great fruit. side of ‘your work’” as you wrote. Today a gift that God gave to protect her from the really I felt a deep joy; that Jesus can’t go adulation she would receive, including the Lord, Where Are You? anymore through the agony but that He reception of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Having read the entire book, which inwants to go through Also, because of the cludes all the available letters and the sensiit in me. More than specific nature of the tive and expert commentary of a priest from ever I surrender mission he was calling Mother Teresa’s own order, I am left awemyself to Him. Yes, her to, he gave her the “She experienced struck at the depth of Mother Teresa’s holimore than ever I gift of knowing in the even temptations ness. Her faith and her heroic service were will be at His disdepth of her being to blasphemy and more profound than I ever imagined. posal. (p. 241) what it was like for unbelief, but to It is certainly true that while receiving rethose she was serving, be tempted is markable communications from the Lord In fact, Mother Tethose who had been not to sin.” and deep spiritual/sensible consolation at resa had prayed for abandoned by their the beginning of her mission, for almost just such a participafamilies, rejected, unfifty years Mother Teresa was left almost to- tion in the agony of wanted, left alone to tally bereft of such consolation. She carried Christ years previdie on the streets of out her mission with almost no affective ously! Calcutt a, or children abandoned by their experience of God’s love and presence. She As a young woman she had resolved “to parents. She was able to understand and could see the fruit that her work was pro- drink the chalice to the last drop.” After the feel deep compassion for these abandoned ducing. She could see when she spoke to founding of the Missionaries of Charity, ones in part because of her own experience her sisters and others that they came alive she again resolved “to drink only from His of “darkness” and abandonment. 10 Sacred Heart Major Seminary | Mosaic | Fall 2016