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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mother Teresa

In an email discussion group I'm on, one Presby member commented on the Time article on Mother Teresa's "dark night of the soul."

"...The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her "darkness," he seems to have told her the three things she needed to hear: that there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a "sure sign" of his "hidden presence" in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the "spiritual side" of her work for Jesus...."
Paraphrasing his comment on the article, he wrote of being so impressed with her perseverance year after lonely year, doing what she believed God had told her to do, without hearing again from God.

My response to the forum:

I was privileged to attend a retreat last year led by Bishop Curlin, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte. He had been one of Mother Teresa's advisers, as well as confessors.

Within limits, and without breaking the seal of the confessional, he talked to us about her life and the dark night of the soul that she experienced for so much of her life. It was certainly something I would not have expected to have been the case - one often assumes that those who accomplish much for God must always be basking in the glow of close fellowship with Him.

Her example is an antidote to the weariness in well doing that we so often feel. (Galatians 6:9) and an encouragement to go on with what we have clearly been told to do.

I can see a very practical application in the vocation to marriage -- keeping a vow even in those times when feelings wane. (Note: I'm not trying to push the analogy as far as it can go, especially looking at the despair she felt, and I know that some marriages are not born out of true vocations, but I know we often give up far too early, far too easily.)

End of response.

More From the Time article:
Most religious readers will reject [an] ... explanation... that makes her the author of her own misery — or even defines it as true misery. Martin, responding to the torch-song image of Teresa, counterproposes her as the heroically constant spouse. "Let's say you're married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament. And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she's comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It's like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she's silent and that what you're doing makes sense. Mother Teresa knew that what she was doing made sense."
Sometimes, maybe many times, we need that sort of example. I mean, how often do we get to experience the grace of God through arrows, roasting, or any of the other trials and martyrdoms we saw in Rome this past summer?

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