Hosea 14:2–10; Psalm 8:6c–8a, 8bc-9, 10–11ab, 14, 17;
No list of lenten saints would be complete without Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I was fortunate enough to see her in person in June 1981. I didn’t get to meet her personally but felt blessed just to be in her presence. Little did we know that this saintly woman had, for many years, walked a path of inner darkness. Several years ago, Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, promoting her cause for sainthood, edited a book called Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. He recalled the years she endured dark nights of the soul, despite her great love for God and certainty that God had called her to special work with the poor.
Fr. Kolodiejchuk says that “the paradoxical and totally unsuspected cost of her mission was that she herself would live in ‘terrible darkness.’” She wrote her spiritual director in 1961 of “this terrible sense of loss—this untold darkness—this loneliness—this continual longing for God—which gives me that pain deep down in my heart. The place of God in my soul is blank.”
I can’t help but think back to the little, bent-over woman I saw that June day. We thought of her as a living saint, even then. Was she still walking in spiritual darkness? Mother Teresa lived out the words of today’s Gospel, to love God with all her being and her neighbor as herself. Her appeal to me—beyond all of the good she did—was that she never gave up longing for God, even in the “terrible darkness.” It’s not perfection in what we do that makes us saints, but allowing God to work with who we are.
Offer your times of uncertainty and darkness to God today.
Lord, our God, may we worship you alone with all of our being.
May we love our neighbor as ourselves and, in so doing, come close to your heavenly reign.