The news arrived today that Pope Francis has confirmed a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, paving the way for her canonization in 2016.
In a letter she wrote in 1961, she penned this:
"Darkness is such that I really do not see--neither with my mind nor with my reason--the place of God in my soul is blank--There is no God in me--when the pain of longing is so great--I just long & long for God . . . The torture and pain I can't explain."
I remember so well these words, and others that spoke of an emptiness, a darkness within her and how shocked many were that this living saint could have experienced such a prolonged "dark night of the soul." Yet, her closeness to Jesus led her to find Jesus in those to whom she ministered.
Canonization of such a person comes as a source of inspiration and solace for me, for I find myself sensing the total absence of God at times in my own life. I remember well a time in my life when my dreams were dashed and I felt so alone. I remember well another time when a loved one received a cancer diagnosis that was devastating, and I wondered where God was in all of it. I remember well a moment when I wondered if God had abandoned me in my own particular struggle at the time.
What brought me back each time was the inbreaking of Jesus Christ, sometimes in stunning ways, but usually in quiet ways; the kind of ways when the Lord creeps back in through another person or through a moment of experiencing sheer beauty.
I once sat with the Lord in the person of my sister, when she was in her final months of life fifteen years ago. I am so glad that I told her that I knew Christ more sitting with her than in any other setting in my whole life.
So, on a day when we hear about the upcoming canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, I am taking comfort in knowing that even for a person who found God absent during significant stretches of time in her life, the Church still declares sanctity in all of it.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.