Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mother Teresa's Heart of Darkness

"To be alone with Jesus in adoration and intimate union with Him is the Greatest Gift of Love - the tender love of Our Father in Heaven."

- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Interesting quote from Mother Teresa, especially in light of recent "revelations" about her dark moods and decades-long feelings of adandonment. If you put this quote right up next to those darkest of moments, what happens?

One response is to see in Mother Teresa symptoms of a systemic problem. We are all familiar with the best-seller question: why do bad things happen to good people? But the question becomes even more acute when one internalizes the whole experience, the problem of suffering writ small, on the tablet of the human soul

The question then goes like this: how could a loving God tolerate provoking feelings of abandonment in His children, imposing on them decades of emotional suffering? Christopher Hitchens blames the situation (as he frequently does) on organized religion. Hitchens is headed along the right trail, but he doesn't go far enough along it to view the true source of Teresa's angst.

The "crushing unreasonableness" is not a burden imposed on weak souls by the Church itself, as if some internal belief system were the source of Teresa's emotional suffering. It's much deeper, much more profund than that.

The imprint of this unreasonableness finds its source in the Heart of God himself, especially as that Heart reveals its powerful Self in the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary. These two hearts are not direct doorways to sweetness and light, as those who persevere in these twin devotions know.

There is in their midst a Heart of Darkness.

Inside of that Heart there are the teeming poor,wretched souls from Bosnia and hopeless people dying of AIDS. Inside of that Heart are all of the external circumstances which weigh down the world. These are the very wounds which Blessed Teresa of Calcutta herself loved and dressed in the body of this aching world. Like the Sacrament, there are in this Heart the Body broken, and the blood outpoured.

So, it should come as no surprise when a saint's life reveals an inward desolation, a barreness seemingly God-forsaken. It is precisely there where the fruit of love is born. It is precisely and only in the Heart of Darkness that we begin to experience the resurrection light. It is only those who have been there, or at least peered into the Mystery, who understand this divine necessity. It is the necessity which drove our Lord to His Cross. It is the divine necessity which drives His people to sacrifice themselves in lives of service.

Blessed Mother Teresa was not a saint in spite of her inward turmoil, but precisely because of it.
Enough said.

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