I came across this site on Mother Teresa’s suffering and how she went through darkness. I think this very much applies to redemptive suffering. I haven’t read Mother Teresa’s work “Come Be My Light” in its entirety but I have had the opportunity to read a few quotes from her book on MotherTeresa.org which explains how, as she experienced the darkness, Mother Teresa became stronger in her outward faith by unifying it with her work in aiding the poor. She had an intimate understanding of what others who struggled spiritually and physically were going through because she had experienced a crisis of faith of her own.
In The Light of Mother Teresa’s Darkness Father Kolodiejchuk focuses on joy in suffering.
Without suffering, our work would just be social work, not the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption, said Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Q: The name of the book, “Come Be My Light,” was a request Jesus made to Mother Teresa. How did her redemptive suffering for others in such extreme darkness connect with her particular charism?
Father Kolodiejchuk: During the 1950s, Mother surrendered and accepted the darkness. Father Neuner [one of her spiritual directors] helped her to understand it by linking the darkness with her charism, of satiating Jesus’ thirst.
She used to say that the greatest poverty was to feel unloved, unwanted, uncared for, and that’s exactly what she was experiencing in her relationship with Jesus.
Her reparatory suffering, or suffering for others, was part of her living her charism for the poorest of the poor.
So for her, the suffering was not only to identify with the physical and material poverty, but even on the interior level, she identified with the unloved, the lonely, the rejected.
She gave up her own interior light for those living in darkness, saying, “I know this is only feelings.”
In one letter to Jesus, she wrote: “Jesus hear My prayer — if this pleases You — If my pain and suffering — my darkness and separation gives You a drop of Consolation — My own Jesus do with me as You wish — as long as You wish without a single glance at my feelings and Pain.
“I am your own. Imprint on my soul and life the sufferings of Your heart. Don’t mind my feelings — Don’t mind even, my pain.
“If my separation from You, brings others to You and in their love and company — you find joy and pleasure — why Jesus, I am willing with all my heart to suffer all that I suffer — not only now, but for all eternity, if this was possible.”
In a letter to her sisters, she makes the charism of the order more explicit, saying: “My dear children, without suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption — Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death.
“All that He has taken upon Himself, and has carried it in the darkest night. Only by being one with us He has redeemed up.
“We are allowed to do the same: All the desolation of Poor people, not only their Material poverty, but their spiritual destitution must be redeemed and we must have our share in it, pray thus when you find it hard — ‘I wish to live in this world which is far from God, which has turned so much from the light of Jesus, to help them — to take upon me something of their suffering.'”
And that captures what I consider her mission statement: “If I ever become a Saint — I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven — to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth…”
This is how she understood her darkness. A lot of the things she said make more sense and have a much deeper meaning now that we know these things.
After I was accused of something I didn’t do I had a crisis of faith. I am reminded of something one of my friends from college told me. He said something to this effect — You are like Jesus. Jesus was accused wrongly of a something and now you have been accused falsely of something that you didn’t commit. He continued something like this… You are connected to Him in a special way.
For a long time I felt distrought and like a dagger had been pierced through my heart. I was full of struggles and thought that “if this is the way I get to be closer to Jesus then I really don’t want to be.” I really couldn’t understand why God would allow this extremefully hurtful wrong to happen to me. I felt abandoned and unloved. I was so so angry. I just couldn’t fathom for what possible purpose this was allowed to happen to me. As time went on I boxed up my feelings and pretended everything was alright. But it wasn’t. Over time I began to drift away from God. Then I began to distance myself from Christ’s Church. Even though I still believed in all the tenets of the faith, since a Catholic university betrayed my trust I just couldn’t get past the anger and the pain so I blamed the Catholic Church for how people treated me at a Catholic college.
I had an extremely dry period where my flowers weren’t being watered by God. It was about four or five years ago when I finally decided to try and forgive those who had wronged me at the university. It was a gradual process but eventually I did forgive them. When you forgive that helps the person doing the forgiving more than the person being forgiven. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulder. I felt renewed.
A reiterate the question I asked a few paragraphs ago: What purpose or good could possibly come from that horrible miscarriage of justice which was done to me?
I have never been so much on fire for my faith as I have been in these past few years. I have grown in my faith, learned about saints, doctrines, social teachings, the Bible et al like God has drawn me closer to Him than I have ever been in my life. God does have a plan for us. As hard as it may be we are called to trust Him, that He will guide us in all we do in our lives.
While I am going through a different type of pain and suffering at the present time I know that God is with me. I know that He is helping my husband and I get through this tough period in our life together in dealing with my medical issues. Even though I am in tremendous physical pain this is nothing compared to the emotional pain I endured after I was sexually assaulted and falsely accused of something I would never think of doing. God brought me back to the Faith stronger and more able to defend our faith through these tumultous times where our faith is being attacked in an unprecedented fashion. The Father knows us best. God is love.
I can very much identify with Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith. Dealing with various crises helps us to grow stronger in our faith. God Bless.