Friday, August 24, 2007

Pain of Blessed Theresa's Prayer

Time Magazine has an interesting review of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator for her cause for canonisation. the review focuses on the spiritual emptiness of the Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, it is entitled "Mother Theresa's Crisis of Faith". Having had a quick scan it actually seems to be a rather sensible article on the pain that is often part of prayer by DAVID VAN BIEMA .
Here are some extracts from it:

"It is not enough for us to say, 'I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'" she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had "[made] himself the hungry one — the naked one — the homeless one." Jesus' hunger, she said, is what "you and I must find" and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world "that radiating joy is real" because Christ is everywhere — "Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive."
Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. "Jesus has a very special love for you," she assured Van der Peet. "[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have free hand."
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?

I can't express in words — the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me — for the first time in ... years — I have come to love the darkness — for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus' darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a 'spiritual side of your work' as you wrote — Today really I felt a deep joy — that Jesus can't go anymore through the agony — but that He wants to go through it in me.


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pelerin said...

Having just read the 'Time' article words fail me .... Those of us who have received the gift of faith should be eternally grateful and humble. I never realised that someone like Mother Theresa could have such emptiness yet she persevered in her work to the end. Perhaps her lesson to us is perseverance?

gemoftheocean said...

How very much like St. Therese, the Little Flower and others.

When my own mother was suffering her final stages of cancer, she often felt like that. But she never abandoned her faith. And neither did Mother Teresa or St. Therese.

Karen H. - San Diego, Ca.

Anonymous said...

The suffering endured by Blessed Mother Teresa for so long has been shared by many saints, not least by St Teresa of Avila. It is a warning and example to us all and shows that the life of faith lies in perseverance, especially when there are no sensible consolations. It is heroic to read that she accomplished her life's work and became an inspiration to the world when she thought God had abandoned her. This teaches more about the reality of faith than sugary examples and unites her in suffering with the desolation of Christ on the cross.

Anonymous said...

Re this pain of Mother Teresa's ..surely we all suffer that at some part of our own in the pit of depression, Karen's mother with cancer...such suffering i would say was/is essential to growth in a total abandonment to God when there is no sign He is there..

White Stone Name Seeker said...

There's a big desert to get through before we reach the Promised Land.

I remember Fr Benedict Groeschel speaking about Mother Teresa's dark night.