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Was Mother Teresa a Hero?

Updated on January 3, 2013

Agnes Bojaxhiu was born to Albanian parents. In 1928 At the age of 18 she joined the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. The following year she took the name Teresa. In 1946 she felt a "call within a call" - to leave her present order and serve the poor while living among them. After debating with God she finally surrendered to His will and was granted permission to leave the Sisters of Loreto. While Mother Teresa was being considered for sainthood the press fixated themselves on one particular detail that emerged; Mother Teresa underwent a spiritual dryness or darkness. For the press and many others they sought to explain her feeling of being abandoned by God as disbelief in God. But were they close to or far from the actual truth of what she experienced? Last night I went to a talk by Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk MCF, the Postulator for the cause of the Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He succintly revealed the truth of this spiritual darkness. Firstly such a spiritual darkness experienced by a holy person who would be declared a saint in the future is not a new thing in the Church. Saint John of the cross explains his experience in "The Dark Night of the Soul." The world bases love merely on feelings. Therefore when someone says they do not feel love they think that all love is gone never to return. But love is not just feelings. It is a decision, an act of the will - we choose to love. Mother Teresa chose to love God, and particularly to do not deny anything that He asked her to do. This vow, or call within a call meant that God would ask to her found the Missionaries of Charity. Furthermore, it meant that He would call for her to suffer. This suffering would mean uniting of her suffering with that of Christ's sufferings of the cross. Her suffering was a painful, unfufilled longing for God.

In the past Mother Teresa's soul had been bursting with love for God. In doing so she felt joy and spiritual consolations. But the more she chose to be united to God the more God asked of her. In fact He would remove all consolations so that she would only rely on her faith and her vow. She viewed this suffering and the darkness as the spiritual side of work in which she totally surrendered herself. The spiritual darkness was intense. Mother Teresa felt a deep sense of loss, loneliness and even being abandoned by God. This lasted for 11 years. One advantage of this intense suffering is that it helped her identify with those who were spiritually poor. She saw the greatest poverty in the world as being those who were unloved, unwanted and uncared for. This included the most vulnerable of society, the unborn. Over a lifetime of growing in her relationship with God Mother Teresa would say that her love for Jesus had grown more simple and personal. She would urge her nuns and others to give whatever it takes with a big smile. Mother Teresa's order is truly global. The number of her nuns doubled when she felt called to have adoration daily rather than weekly. Her nuns care for solo mothers, abandoned children, outcasts, lepers, the destitute and the dying. Mother Teresa was beatified on 19 October 2003 by Pope John Paul II. Beatification is the first step in the process to canonisation. The Church requires a miracle prior to beatification and one after. We thus have 24 hours access 7 days a week to another person who is obviously in heaven. We can thus ask her to pray for and with us. Pope John Paul II called her an icon of the Good Samaritan which is so apt for someone who exemplified the love of Christ to the world. Brendan Roberts, a New Zealander, is author of three books and his website is .


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