During those eight decades she
- Joined the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland
- Changed her name
- Was assigned to Calcutta, India
- As part of the city's Loreto Entally community
- Taught at a girls' school there
- Took her Final Profession of Vows
- After which she was called Mother Teresa
- Founded the Missionaries of Charity
- Cared for " 'the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for' "
That's because letters were made public, showing that for a very long time, she didn't feel all that uplifted and peppy about Jesus. She went about her work and prayers, relying on her will, not her feelings.
As far as some people are concerned, a person just isn't spiritual without that HALLELUJAH! feeling.
Catholics recognize a prolonged dry period like that as the dark night of the soul - a name that comes from "The Dark Night," by St. John of the Cross, which described and discussed this part of a soul's growth. I discussed the letters, and clueless reactions to them, in another blog. (August 31, 2007)
Many saints, and many Catholics who haven't been canonized, went through that experience. I can't think of one who was given as long a dark night of the soul as Mother Teresa's, though.
I see a spiritual dryness, a lack of emotional uplift, as something like Special Forces training: rigorous; definitely not for everybody; reserved for those few who can handle it.
Calling Mother Teresa a hypocrite or an atheist because she went through an unusually long dark night of the soul is like saying that a Green Beret isn't a real soldier because he's had training most GIs don't get.
- "Mother Teresa of Calcutta: She's No Princess Di"
(May 8, 2009)
- "Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Not a Plaster Saint"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (September 5, 2007)
- "Mother Teresa of Calcutta"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (August 31, 2007)
- "Princess Diana of England and Mother Teresa of Calcutta"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (August 27, 2007)
- "Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)"
- "Beatification of Mother Theresa of Calcutta"
Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, Vatican (October 19, 2003)
Correction (August 26, 2009)
I extend sincere thanks to Sr Constance, lsp, Little Sisters of the Poor, for pointing out an error in this post.
Little Sisters of the Poor was founded by Jeanne Jugan.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta founded the Missionaries of Charity.
Jeanne Jugan was beatified in 1982, and will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009.
Several pages of information about Jeanne Jugan are on the Little Sisters of the Poor website (www.littlesistersofthepoor.org) Briefly, she was born October 25, 1792, and formed Servants of the Poor in 1842. The group was re-named "Sisters of the Poor" in 1844 and "Little Sisters of the Poor" in 1849. There's a great deal more information on the Little Sisters of the Poor timeline.
Updated (January 21, 2010)
Another resource about the dark night of the soul, and related topics:
- "On Becoming a Christian: | Insights from Scripture and the Patristic Writings | With
Some Contemporary Reflections"
Report of the Fifth Phase of the International Dialogue Between Some Classical
Pentecostal Churches and Leaders and the Catholic Church, The Holy See (1998-2006)
- Paragraph 178