As the Year of St. Paul is winding down I would like to share this reflection with you about Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It is a lesson in perseverance, courage and strength.
Be My Light
by Father James Martin, S.J.
"God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness" has shone in our
hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on
the face of [Jesus] Christ."
(2 Cor 4:6)The title of Mother Teresa's posthumous collection of letters is Come Be My Light. Yet ironically, her letters speak more about darkness than light. For the last fifty years of her life, the woman now called Blessed Teresa of Calcutta suffered from an intense sense of spiritual darkness. Her prayer seemed empty, futile, fruitless. God seemed absent. This "dark night" was all the more striking given the mystical experiences that she had enjoyed earlier in life. In 1946, she literally heard the voice of Jesus asking her to leave the Sisters of Loreto to found a new religious order, the Missionaries of Charity.
What was Mother Teresa's response to this long interior darkness? Fidelity, she maintained the commitment she made to God, who had asked her to "be my light" among the poor. In time, Mother Teresa realized that the darkness was one way of experiencing the abandonment that Christ faced on the cross, and that the poor face daily. And the Albanian-born nun recognized that the very longing for God is a sign of God's presence.
Many of us, when confronted with the darkness of life--spiritual, emotional, professional, or otherwise--mistakenly believe that it is punishment from God. Sometimes we even use it as an excuse not to do the hard work of the Christian life--being compassionate, loving, and merciful. Mother Teresa's arduous but ultimately joyful life shows us that following Christ depends not simply on our emotional experiences, important as they are, but on our fidelity, our trust in God's will, and our ability to surrender to the future that God has in store for us. And then, in the midst of the darkness, we are able to be God's light.Loving God, sometimes the way is so dark and it is so hard to find you. Please help me to trust in you even when you don't seem present. And help me to see your presence in my life soon.
And so it is that I too must be faithful, even when I don't experience joy and satisfaction in prayer. For me it is not a matter that God is not listening. I find myself making the excuse that the prayer is too frivilous. Not so. I'm not being punished. I'm not abandoned. I must tell myself often that I am resting on the Father's lap while I am being taught the art of persevence, compassion, and love. Though I may fail at every turn, when the answer does come it will come with grace in abundance from the hands of a generous Father. I often ask myself. Why should I be less privileged to suffer, than the one who saved me, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ? Indeed, if he could suffer death for me, why not I for him. In many ways we are spoiled by the Father and don't even acknowledge it.