What’s going on when a person begins to doubt the existence of God?
Monsignor Leo Maasburg speaks about the Divine abandonment that Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta experienced for over 35 years of her life.
… it’s a very complex point. Because, it goes, it digs deep into the mystery of the relationship between God and man.
Aaah, God is not really perceivable by us with our senses, aah, with our reason, and when… the friendship between God and man develops, we go through different stages.
And Mother Teresa, probably in the friendship [which] had reached a point, which probably only a few [living human beings] reach, which is called ‘the Mystical Union,’ it means ‘complete oneness with the Will of God; complete oneness with His promptings, with His desires,’…
Remember the vow [of Mother Teresa], ‘I will never say no to Jesus.’
And this stage, of famous Saints in the Catholic Church tried to explain it and St. John of the Cross and he calls it the ‘Dark Night of The Soul.’
And he explains it beautifully.
He says, ‘When the night is darkest, we don’t see anything. When the night dawns, we start seeing shapes. But then, when we walk out into the open light of the sun we don’t see anything anymore [because we a blinded by the brilliance].’
And I understand the dark-night-of-the-soul of Mother Teresa in that way.
She stepped out not only from the darkness of sin into the half-light of hope but she stepped into the complete light of faith and that with all her will, with all her mind, with all her actions, with all her life and so…
She was blinded by God!
She was blinded by the beauty, by the depth and it was a very hard time for her.
And it was, according to what the experts say, she was probably for thirty-five years, in the dark night of the soul.
The big Saints, like
- Saint John of the Cross one year and a half;
- Saint Teresa of Avila three months;
- Little Therese (of Lisieux, a.k. as ‘The Little Flower’) one month;
- [Saint Maria Faustina, sometimes days, and other times weeks];
- [Saint Francis de Sales,
- [Blessed Virgin Mary, for years following the Ascension of her Son];
- [Saint Gemma Galgani, for many months];
- [Saint Padre Pio];
- [Saint Jane Frances de Chantal];
- [Saint Catherine of Siena];
- [Saint John Vianney, le Cure d’Ars]
- [Saint Gregory of Nazianzus]
- [Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton];
- et cetera…
She was thirty-five years and many people ask me whether we noticed anything about that ‘dark night,’ and I must say, ‘No, we didn’t notice anything at all.’
When I really try to pull out some remembrance of that, maybe, when she was alone, and when she felt that there was nobody around, she was very serious, very serene… and
As soon as somebody entered, she would brighten up like this…
Like ‘new light!’
And, she always told her Sisters, ‘If you don’t smile make a smile.’
And, she probably did it herself.
And, she knew what she was talking about.
She probably didn’t feel like smiling because, the pain, not to feel God’s presence, not to understand His plans, not to be able to relate to Him…
I remember one sentence she said, not to be [but] in one of her letters, she said, ‘When I send up my prayers to heaven they return into my heart like swords.’
She probably meant that her prayers [felt as though they] not only [didn’t] reach heaven but they came back with a negative effect.
And she said, ‘The further I feel that God is withdrawing from me, my pain grows but I don’t know what pain is bigger, the pain of ‘God distancing Himself from me,’ or the pain of ‘my love and longing for Him.’
So, the further God withdrew, her love and longing grew for Him and we are talking about the realm of mystery, we are talking about all the limits of not only my poor use of English, but of language as such, but I believe it is a big mystery and,
Mother Teresa said, ‘Should I ever be a Saint I will be a Saint of Darkness because I will try to come back to earth in the darkest spots of the earth in order to light a candle of hope.
And, I believe this comes precisely from her own darkness… from just living by faith; just by living by her will; …
But, then on the other hand, she completely trusted in God’s Providence. Because, like mathematics, she said, ‘I’m His, so He’s mine!’
‘I’m His, so He will look after us.’
You can see and hear the actual interview between Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. and Monsignor Leo Maasburg.
The Ignatius Press promotional page for Msgr. Maasburg’s book about Mother Teresa of Calcutta can be located at this link ‘Mother Teresa of Calcutta A Personal Portrait.’
See what a smiling Saint looks like at this link: Mother Teresa video.
Prayer of St. Gregory Nazianzus For Relief From Depression
Let Us Pray (Oremus)
The breath of life, O Lord, seems spent. My body is tense, my mind filled with anxiety, yet I have no zest, no energy. I am helpless to allay my fears. I am incapable of relaxing my limbs. Dark thoughts constantly invade my head ….Lord, raise up my soul, revive my body.
Other Links Related To This Blog’s Topic:
The Trials of Great Saints: Dark Night of the Soul: http://catholicspitfiregrill.com/2007/08/27/the-trials-of-great-saints-dark-night-of-the-soul/
Saint Gemma and the Dark Night of the Soul: http://www.stgemmagalgani.com/2009/05/st-gemma-experiences-dark-night-of-soul.html
Blessed Pope John Paul II message to Audience of 2 April 2003 at the Vatican on Divine Silence and : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/2003/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_20030402_en.html
On difference between desolation and aridity: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/tags/aridity
Mother Teresa’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture Transcript: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1979/teresa-lecture.html