Excerpt of live Interview with Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk the Postulator and Author of the new book about Mother Teresa’s hidden interior spiritual life by Radio Horeb 2007.09.02
Fr. Brian, how did you come to know Mother Teresa? Click here and listen
What is for you most impressive about Mother Teresa, since you knew her so well? Click here and listen
Fr. Brian, how did it come about that you became the Postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause?Click here and listen
Now 6 years after her death Mother Teresa was beatified, was it a record in Church History?Click here and listen
The Beatification was 2003 and now what about the Canonization?Click here and listen
About the book Come be my Light with Mother Teresa’s private writings. . . Mother Teresa actually never wanted these letters to be publish, why did you publishing them now?Click here and listen
Father what is the essential content of the book?Click here and listen
Fr. Brian speaks about Mother Teresa Click here and listen
What is most essential in Mother Teresa’s Spirituality?Click here and listen
Why was Come be my Light taken as the title for the book and the guide sentence for the Beatification?Click here and listen
If Mother Teresa did not have any interior experience of Jesus, could her prayer for hours before the Blessed Sacrament still be genuine and from the heart?Click here and listen
Why did nobody know about this darkness when she was still alive so many people would have prayed for her much more? I am very sad this has come to light only now for I am sure so many people would have been encouraged that such a holy person had struggles like so many of us. Click here and listen
The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness, Part 1
Father Kolodiejchuk on Unity With Jesus
Father Kolodiejchuk, a Missionary of Charity priest and the postulator for the cause of canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, discusses his new book:"Come Be My Light," and the interior life Mother Teresa kept hidden from the world.
Q: The extraordinary interior life of Mother Teresa was discovered after her death. Aside from her spiritual directors, how was this life, especially her suffering of spiritual darkness, kept from all who knew her?
Father Kolodiejchuk: No one had any idea of her interior life because her spiritual directors held onto these letters. The Jesuits have some, some were at the archbishop's house, and Father Joseph Neuner, another spiritual director, had some.
These letters were discovered when we went looking for the documents for the cause.
When she was alive, Mother Teresa asked that her biographical information not be shared.
She asked Archbishop Ferdinand Perier of Calcutta not to tell another bishop about how things had begun. She said, "Please don't give him anything from the beginning, because once people come to know the beginning, like the locutions, then the focus would be on me and not on Jesus."
She kept saying, "God's work. This is God's work."
Even the closest sisters had no idea of her interior life. Many would have thought that she would have had a great intimacy with God to keep her going in light of the difficulties of the order and the material poverty she suffered.
Q: The book discusses Mother's secret vow that she made early in her vocation, where she promised not to refuse God anything on pain of mortal sin. What role did this play in her life?
Father Kolodiejchuk: Mother Teresa made this vow, in 1942, to never refuse God anything.
Her inspiration letters from Jesus soon followed. In one of them, if not both of them, Jesus says, picking up on her vow, "Wilt thou refuse to do this for me?"
So the vow is the background to her vocation. Then you see in the inspiration letters where Jesus makes her call clear.
She then pushes forward because she knows what Jesus wants. She is motivated by thought of his longing and his pain because the poor don't know him, so they don't want him.
This was one of the pillars that kept her going through the trials of the darkness. Because of her certainty of her call and this vow in one of the letters she says, "I was at the point of breaking and then I remembered the vow, and that picked me up."
Q: There has been a lot of discussion about Mother Teresa's "dark night." It is described in your book as a "martyrdom of desire." This element, her thirsting for God, has largely been missed. Can you describe this?
Father Kolodiejchuk: A good book to read to understand some of these things is Father Thomas Dubay's "Fire Within."
In Father Dubay's book, he speaks of the real pain of loss and a pain of longing, with the pain of longing being more painful.
As Father Dubay explains, in the path to authentic union with God, there is the purgative stage called the dark night, after this a soul then goes to a stage of ecstasy and true union with God.
The purgative stage for Mother Teresa seems to have been during her time of formation at Loretto.
At the time of her profession, she said her companion was most often the darkness. The kind of letters that you read there, in the dark night, are typical letters you would read of someone in the dark night.
Father Celeste Van Exem, her spiritual director at the time, said that maybe in 1946 or 1945 she was already close to ecstasy.
After that, there is a reference to when the inspirations and locutions came, when the difficulty against faith stopped.
Later she wrote to Father Neuner, explaining: "And then you know how it worked out. And there, as if our Lord just gave himself to me to the full. The sweetness and consolation and union of those 6 months passed but too soon."
So, Mother Teresa had six months of intense union, after the locutions and ecstasy. She was already in the real transforming union. At this point, the darkness returned.
But now, however, the darkness she experienced was within that union with God -- so it wasn't that she had the union and then lost it. She lost the consolation of the union and alternated between the pain of loss and a deep longing, a real thirst.
As Father Dubay said, "At times the contemplation is delightful, and at other times it is a strong thirsting for him." But in Mother Teresa's case, apart from one month in 1958, she did not have this consolation of union.
There is one letter in which she said: "No Father, I am not alone, I have His darkness, I have His pain, I have a terrible longing for God. To love and not to be loved, I know I have Jesus in the unbroken union, for my mind is fixed on him and him alone."
Her experience of darkness within union is very rare even among the saints because for most, the end is union without it.
Her suffering, then, to use the Dominican theologian Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's term, is reparatory, much more for the sins of others, not purificatory, for her own sins. She is united to Jesus in enough faith and love to share in his experience in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross.
Mother Teresa made the comment that the suffering in the Garden was worse than the suffering on the cross. And now we understand where that was coming from, because she understood Jesus' longing for souls.
The important thing is that it is union, and as Carol Zaleski pointed out in her article in First Things, this kind of trial is a new kind of trial. It is a modern kind of experience for the saints over the last 100 years or so, to suffer the feeling that one does not have any faith, and that religion is not true.
This interview was made and first published by ZENIT,. 4.9. 2007 (Zenit.org).
The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness, Part 2
Father Kolodiejchuk on Joy in Suffering
Without suffering, our work would just be social work, not the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption, said Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Q: The name of the book, "Come Be My Light," was a request Jesus made to Mother Teresa. How did her redemptive suffering for others in such extreme darkness connect with her particular charism?
Father Kolodiejchuk: During the 1950s, Mother surrendered and accepted the darkness. Father Neuner [one of her spiritual directors] helped her to understand it by linking the darkness with her charism, of satiating Jesus' thirst.
She used to say that the greatest poverty was to feel unloved, unwanted, uncared for, and that's exactly what she was experiencing in her relationship with Jesus.
Her reparatory suffering, or suffering for others, was part of her living her charism for the poorest of the poor.
So for her, the suffering was not only to identify with the physical and material poverty, but even on the interior level, she identified with the unloved, the lonely, the rejected.
She gave up her own interior light for those living in darkness, saying, "I know this is only feelings."
In one letter to Jesus, she wrote: "Jesus hear My prayer -- if this pleases You -- If my pain and suffering -- my darkness and separation gives You a drop of Consolation -- My own Jesus do with me as You wish -- as long as You wish without a single glance at my feelings and Pain.
"I am your own. Imprint on my soul and life the sufferings of Your heart. Don't mind my feelings -- Don't mind even, my pain.
"If my separation from You, brings others to You and in their love and company -- you find joy and pleasure -- why Jesus, I am willing with all my heart to suffer all that I suffer -- not only now, but for all eternity, if this was possible."
In a letter to her sisters, she makes the charism of the order more explicit, saying: "My dear children, without suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption -- Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death.
"All that He has taken upon Himself, and has carried it in the darkest night. Only by being one with us He has redeemed up.
"We are allowed to do the same: All the desolation of Poor people, not only their Material poverty, but their spiritual destitution must be redeemed and we must have our share in it, pray thus when you find it hard -- 'I wish to live in this world which is far from God, which has turned so much from the light of Jesus, to help them -- to take upon me something of their suffering.'"
And that captures what I consider her mission statement: "If I ever become a Saint -- I will surely be one of 'darkness.' I will continually be absent from Heaven -- to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth…"
This is how she understood her darkness. A lot of the things she said make more sense and have a much deeper meaning now that we know these things.
Q: So what do you say to those who call her experience a crisis of faith, that she didn't really believe in God, or somehow imply that her darkness was a sign of psychological instability?
Father Kolodiejchuk: It wasn't a crisis of faith, or that she lacked faith, but that she had a trial of faith where she experienced the feeling that she did not believe in God.
This trial required a lot of human maturity, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to do it. She would have become unbalanced.
As Father Garrigou-Lagrange said, it is possible to have seemingly contradictory feelings at the same time.
It is possible to have "objective Christian joy," as Carol Zaleski called it, while at the same time going through the trial or feeling of having no faith.
There are not two people here, but one person with feelings on different levels.
We can really be living the cross in someway -- it is painful, and it hurts, and just because we can spiritualize it does not take way the pain, but one can be joyful because one is living with Jesus. And that is not false.
This is how and why Mother lived a life so full of joy.
Q: As the postulator of her cause for canonization, when do you think we might be able to call her St. Teresa of Calcutta?
Father Kolodiejchuk: We need one more miracle -- we have looked at a few, but none has been clear enough. There was one for beatification but we are waiting for the second.
Perhaps God has been waiting for the book to come out first, because people knew that Mother Teresa was holy but because of her ordinariness and simplicity of expression, they did not have an understanding of how holy.
I heard about two priests talking the other day. One said he was never a big fan of Mother Teresa because he thought she was just pious, devout, and did nice, admirable works, but then when he heard about her interior life, it changed everything for him.
Now we have more of an idea how developed she was spiritually, and now something of her deeper characteristics are being revealed.
Once the miracle comes in, it could take a couple of years, although the Pope could do it faster if he wanted to.
Q: What has happened to the order since Mother's death?
Father Kolodiejchuk: The order has grown by almost 1,000 sisters, from around 3,850 at her death to 4,800 today, and we've added over 150 houses in 14 more countries.
God's work goes on.
This interview was made and first published by ZENIT, 5.9. 2007 (Zenit.org).
Interview: Fr. Kolodiejchuk clarifies many secular misunderstandings
In the interview with Dr. Camarata, Fr. Kolodiejchuk clarifies many secular misunderstandings of Mother Teresa’s spirituality.
“Once she understood that this darkness is part of the spiritual side
of her work, then she said, ‘I’ve even come to love the darkness,
because Jesus can’t go through this anymore, but He can undergo it in me,’” states Fr. Kolodiejchuk.
www.SaintCast.org Monday, September 24, 2007
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