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  1. Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals
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  3. Get e-book The Dark Night of the Soul: Growing in the Season of Loss

John of the Cross and others wrote poems and spiritual canticles to describe their sufferings in God's absence and their frustrated longings for the embrace of his love. Mother Teresa never did.

Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals

In fact, only her spiritual directors knew of her anguish. A few of her letters to them have been made public. And using lines drawn from these letters, we can piece together the stanzas of a sort of spiritual canticle depicting Mother Teresa's dark night of the soul:. I did not know that love could make one suffer so much.

The more I want him, the less I am wanted. I want to love him as he has not been loved, and yet there is that separation, that terrible emptiness, that feeling of absence of God. They say people in hell suffer eternal pain because of the loss of God.


In my soul I feel just this terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing. That terrible longing keeps growing, and I feel as if something will break in me one day. Heaven from every side is closed. I feel like refusing God. Pray for me that I may not turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness.

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Never before perhaps in the history of the saints have we been given such an honest and plainspoken account of the dark night of a soul. In Mother Teresa's dark night, we can hear all the anguish of her century — the desolation of the poor, the cries of the unwanted children, of the atheist, of all those who can't murmur a prayer or feel to love anymore.

It was as if in some way she was bearing their sufferings. And in this she seemed in some way to be sharing too in the sufferings of Christ. You and I must let him live in us and through us in the world.

After her death, it was disclosed that in her early missionary days, long before hearing her call to the poor, Mother Teresa had quietly made a private vow of spiritual espousal — to be all for Jesus and to refuse him nothing. From her letters, we can see that she understood her darkness as an ordeal, a divine trial. In the dark night, her vow of self-offering was being put to the test.

Would she really refuse him nothing, drink the cup her Lord drank, lay down her life as he had laid down his life, offer herself as he did, completely and without reserve? In her dark night, Jesus was claiming Mother Teresa for his own, pledging himself to his spiritual bride, pruning away her self-love and pride, purifying her in heart, mind, and intention, stripping away all that would keep her from total union with him.

And again using lines from her private letters, we can compose the final stanzas of Mother Teresa's spiritual canticle, her response to her Lord and her dark night. These lines form a final prayer of self-oblation, an act of faith in which she makes herself a total gift — to share in Jesus' Passion and in his burning thirst for souls:. For my meditation I am using the Passion of Jesus. I am afraid I make no meditation, but only look at Jesus suffer and keep repeating, Let me share with you this pain! If my pain and suffering, my darkness and separation, give you a drop of consolation, my own Jesus, do with me as you wish.

I am your own. Imprint on my soul and life the suffering of your heart. If my separation from you brings others to you. I am willing with all my heart to suffer all that I suffer. Your happiness is all that I want. I have begun to love my darkness, for I believe now that it is a part, a very small part, of Jesus' darkness and pain on the earth. I want to satiate your thirst with every single drop of blood that you can find in me.

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Please do not take the trouble to return soon. I am ready to wait for you for all eternity. Jesus came for her on September 5, She had been an apostle of joy and light in the dark final hours of the second Christian millennium.

Get e-book The Dark Night of the Soul: Growing in the Season of Loss

And their lives form spiritual brackets around the twentieth century. On the day Mother Teresa died, her sisters laid her in state beneath Our Lady of Fatima, a statue of the Blessed Mother depicted as she appeared to the children at Fatima. It was fitting in a way that no one could have known at the time. Few knew that she had been guided all these years by apparitions and a voice heard one summer long ago. And few knew that she was of the world to Mary's love for her children, to show us the blessed fruit of Mary's womb, Jesus. We can now see that Mother Teresa was among the first fruits of the pope's consecration of the world to Mary's Immaculate Heart.

The child called Gonxha "flower bud" — became the first bud of new Christian life, flowering from the century's bloody soil of wars, famines, and persecutions. Mother Teresa had followed the call of the gospel and done all that had been asked of her by Jesus and Mary in those visions. Can you address this subject?

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Yes, I have also experienced it. It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies. Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning — and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.

Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it. So that results in a dark place. But people have gone into that, and then there is the possibility that you emerge out of that into a transformed state of consciousness. They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in your mind. A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer.

The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die. What dies is the egoic sense of self. Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there — only an illusory identity. Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.

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