In an interview with the Spanish daily “La Razon,” Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, author of the book “Come Be My Light” and postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause of canonization, said the revered nun “lived a trial of faith, not a crisis of faith,” and that she overcame it showing that the love “is in the will and not in feelings.”
“Come Be My Light” is a collection of letters Mother Teresa written about various aspects of her life, some revealing that she suffered spiritual darkness for decades. Father Kolodiejchuk expressed regret that Time Magazine twisted the meaning of the book, whose title comes from “the words Jesus spoke to Mother Teresa in 1947. Time Magazine, even with the cover photo (of a Mother Teresa who appears depressed), has greatly manipulated world opinion. The book is about a trial of faith that Mother endured for 50 years, which is very different from a crisis of faith. This is not something new in the saints. This phenomenon of the dark night is well know in spiritual theology,” he said.
A Modern Trial
Father Kolodiejchuk recalled that Mother Teresa “always said the greatest poverty was to feel unloved, unwanted, alone, rejected…She felt that in her soul. Therefore her dark night could be called a ‘dark night of love.’ That was specifically hers.”
Her trial “is very ‘modern’,” he continued. “The saints of previous centuries loved the dark night as a questioning of their own salvation, as a trial of faith. Mother lived interior poverty, the ‘spiritual bareness.’ Jesus lived that [same] poverty and Mother was a pure instrument in his hands so that by living that darkness she might be a light for others.”
“She had no feelings,” Father Kolodiejchuk noted. “Thus she teaches us that we should not base our faith and love for God and others on what we feel. Today it’s popular to say: I don’t love anymore because I don’t feel anything. Love is in the will, not in the feelings,” he explained.
Father Kolodiejchuk explained that the dark night “is a moment in the spiritual life in which the person is purified before experiencing an intimate and transforming union with Christ. In fact, what we understand as the dark night was experienced by Blessed Mother Teresa when she was still in Loreto, the religious congregation where she began her surrender to God. The years of 1946-47 were a time of joyful and sweet intimate union with Jesus. ‘Jesus gave himself to me,’ Mother says in one of her letters. Mother’s union with Jesus was sort of ‘violent,’ deeply felt and experienced. Later, after beginning her work with the poor and founding the congregation, this new and prolonged darkness came upon her (it lasted 50 years, the rest of her life) which was no longer a preparation for another spiritual stage. She speaks about this darkness in the letters to her confessors and spiritual directors.”
“Mother lived her religious consecration as a union of love, as spousal surrender to Jesus, a union in which she shared everything with her beloved, with Jesus, the love of a spouse and a redeeming love: a love that is especially identified with the suffering of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and the abandonment of the Father which Christ experienced on the cross,” Father Kolodiejchuk stated. “In 1942, Mother vowed to never deny Jesus anything. It was soon afterwards when she heard Jesus say to her: ‘Come, be my light.’ At first Mother brought the ‘light’ even to places that were physically dark: many poor people did not have windows. She accepted her interior darkness in order to bring light to others. The Jesuit priest Father Neuner (one of her confessors) explained in 1962 that this dark night was the ‘spiritual side of her apostolic work’,” Father Kolodiejchuk said.
“In the book, through letters and writings collected for the process, you see her great story of love with Jesus, her falling in love from the beginning to the end, her ‘martyrdom of love,’ the immense care that nothing of her intimacy with Jesus would be made known [to others]: ‘Jesus is the only protagonist’,” Father Kolodiejchuk said.
Asked about her eventual canonization, Father Kolodiejchuk said it would be “the heroic proclamation of holiness, of heroic love. Mother Teresa wanted to ‘love Jesus like he had never been loved.’ There is still no miracle, a cure that doctors clearly see as unexplained by science. Since her beatification more than 1,800 people have reported receiving special favors. We still have to wait,” he said.