Catholicism: May 2008 Archives

Mother Teresa and Mary

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Zenit has an interview with Missionary of Charity Father Joseph Langford, author of a new book about how Mother Teresa's faith sustained her during decades of darkness.

Q: How would you describe Mother's periods of darkness, and what do you think about the recent controversies over her "dark night?"

Father Langford: Contrary to reports in the press, Mother Teresa did not suffer a "crisis" of faith. In fact, her struggle was not with faith at all, but with the "loss of feeling" of faith, with the loss of a felt sense of the divine. As she stepped out of the convent and into the slums of Calcutta, what had been her usual consolation in prayer abruptly ended.

Though she would not understand it until later, she was being asked to share the same inner darkness, the same trial of belief suffered by the poor and destitute -- and to do so for their sake, and for the love of her Lord.

She was allowed to feel as though God was absent, and at first she agonized at the disconnect between her emotions and her belief -- though never did her lack of feeling become lack of faith.

In fact, her dark night revealed the hidden depth of Mother Teresa's faith in a way that any lesser challenge could not. Her darkness not only allowed her to exercise her extraordinary faith to the full, it allowed us -- modern disciples too often of "little faith" -- to discover the true dimensions of which faith is capable, even under duress, even in the night.

She would want to encourage us to do the same in our own Calcutta, in our own dark night: Instead of allowing our trials and pain to become a prison, we can, as she did, make our pain a bridge into the pain of others, a bond of solidarity, a catalyst for charity.

Q: How did her relationship with Mary assist her in these times of trial?

Father Langford: Just as the Israelites were given a column of fire to lead them by night, so Mother Teresa was given her own guiding light through the night of faith, in the person of the Virgin Mary.

The gift of Jesus' mother -- given to St. John on Calvary, and to disciples and saints through the ages -- strengthened Mother Teresa in carrying her own pain, and in tending to the pain of the poor.

Our Lady would help her to not only believe in the night, but to love in the night -- to transform the mystery of the cross, both within her and around her, into seeds of resurrection.

As it was Our Lady who brought St. John, alone among the Twelve, to stand faithfully at Calvary, so it was Our Lady who would bring Mother Teresa through the sea of suffering opened before her, that she might shine the light of God's love on the poor.

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Friday Links

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Some articles to drink your coffee over this weekend :

  • Sandro Magister, Vaticanista extraordinaire, reruns a decade-old account of a pilgrimage to Mt. Athos.
    Saints, centuries, empires, earthly and heavenly cities – everything seems to oscillate and flow, no longer distant. The monastery's treasures – golden and silver boxes with sapphires and rubies that are set in the Virgin's belt, the skull of Saint Basil the Great, Saint John Chrysostom's right hand – are offered to visitors for veneration. The light of the sunset sets them aglow, makes them pulsate. And the frescoes of Theophanes – master of the Cretan school in the first part of the 16th century – are also lit up, as are the blue majolica tiles on the walls, the mother-of-pearl on the iconostasis, on the lectern, on the episcopal throne.

    After vespers one leaves the catholikon in procession and, facing the square, enters the refectory, which is also built like a church and frescoed by the great Theophanes. The same liturgy continues. The igoumenos takes his place at the center of the apse. A monk reads stories of saints from the pulpit, almost singing. One eats blessed food: soups and vegetables from old iron dishes – and on feast days even amber-colored wine – on thick, roughly hewn marble tables, themselves resting on marble supports. They are a thousand years old, yet evoke prehistoric dolmens. The exit is also made in procession. A monk gives everyone a piece of blessed bread. Another incenses it so artfully that the perfume remains a long time in your mouth.

  • Two recent articles about human trafficking and prostitution caught my eye. The first is this lengthy but excellent New Yorker profile of a Moldovan woman who works for a non-profit that helps women who have been trafficked into prostitution get home. The second is this First Things daily article from last week that discusses a new book about the modern day slave trade by a reporter who has investigated trafficking all around the world.

  • Lastly, Zenit has a brief article quoting Fr. Joseph Fessio talking about Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to America. This quote stood out to me:

    "Most people already knew [Benedict XVI] is extremely intelligent and articulate. Many weren't aware of the personal warmth, what in Bavaria they call 'Gemütlichkeit,'" Father Fessio said.

    I don't know about you, but to me, nothing says "personal warmth" like Gemütlichkeit

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Catholicism category from May 2008.

Catholicism: March 2008 is the previous archive.

Catholicism: June 2008 is the next archive.

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