Thursday, April 10, 2008

Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta"

I cannot adequately describe my emotions and reactions upon finishing Come Be My Light. I was deeply moved by the story of Mother Teresa's interior struggle for over forty years with what John of the Cross calls "the dark night" of the soul.

The book isn't just a compilation of Teresa's private writings. It is more accurately a biography by Brian Kolodiejchuk* utilizing her correspondence (especially to her spiritual directors and superiors) as the primary source material.

Kolodiejchuk makes it clear the purpose of the book is a response to the requests of those who loved and admired Mother Teresa and who wanted to know the source of her motivation, strength, and joy. He says,
These pages unveil her interior life, with all its depth and drama, and add unsuspected riches to the spiritual heritage Mother Teresa offered to the world. (p. xii)
This book is not the expose some were let to believe by early newspaper reports. Quite the contrary, it demonstrates a life totally devoted to "satiate the thirst of Jesus" by loving the poor and bringing souls to him.

Whether or not you agree with her theology, you have to be impressed with her love. I remember saying something like this to a missionary acquaintance in Central America. This was a few years ago and he responded with, "Seems to me her theology is people. How do you argue with that?"

However, Come Be My Light demonstrates her theology was not just "people" but an unquenchable love for Jesus. As the author says:
It was not the suffering she endured that made her a saint, but the love with which she lived her life through all her suffering (p. 337)
She was a woman "madly in love with God," and even more she was a woman who understood that "God was madly in love with her." Having experienced God's love for her, she desired ardently to love him in return...(p. 335)
It is obvious from her letters that hers was no legalistic approach to following Jesus. She adored him.

Mother Teresa also viewed love of neighbor as the next great command of God. She lived out that love with her whole being. She wrote,
The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one's neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease.
I highly recommend Come Be My Light as a must reading for anyone who wants to see someone completely sold out to following Jesus. But be careful! If you are a Jesus follower, it may lead you challenged way beyond your comfort zone!

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*Director of the Mother Teresa Center and a member of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers

1 comment:

Tara said...

Good words.