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Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light - The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta Hardcover – September 4, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religion (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385520379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520379
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mother Teresa was one of the most revered people of the 20th century, so it is no surprise that 10 years after her death people still want to know what impelled this poor, humble Albanian woman to give her life to God so completely. Kolodiejchuk, a Catholic priest and friend of Mother Teresa’s who is actively promoting her cause for sainthood, assembles a startling and impressive collection of her writings, most of which have never been seen by the public. Two themes especially shine through in Mother Teresa’s letters, namely, her absolute conviction that she was doing God’s will, and a deep and surprising chasm of darkness within her that some would call the dark night of the soul. It is also apparent that this saintly woman was no pushover. In her quest to found the Missionaries of Charity, she aggressively pursued approval from her bishop, fully confident that God desired this work to be done. Kolodiejchuk is at times a bit presumptive in his interpretations of Teresa’s letters, as no one can say for certain what was in her mind and heart at all times. What we do know, in part thanks to this volume, is that Mother Teresa’s vocation to care for the poorest of the poor will continue to inspire people for generations.


“If I ever become a Saint—I will surely be one of “darkness.” I will continually be absent from Heaven—to lit the light of those in darkness on earth .”
—Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Customer Reviews

After reading this book my life has been forever changed.
N. Stimac
Jesus asked Mother Teresa to "Come be My Light" and she responded by dedicating her life to be that light of God's love in the lives of those experiencing darkness.
Thomas M. Loarie
This book chronicles Mother Teresa's calling to be a nun and Jesus's calling her to start the Missionaries of Charity.
Catherine Y. Brockenborough

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

349 of 372 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on September 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Consisting primarily of correspondence between Mother Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, the book offers insight into the inner life of a believer known mostly through her external works of mercy. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by the Catholic Church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she experienced the absence of the presence of God. As the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, she experienced Christ's presence "neither in her heart or in the Eucharist."

From a psychological perspective, research into the nature of faith, such as that done by James Fowler in "Stages of Faith" suggest that Mother Teresa, in continuing to serve Christ by serving others while experiencing the absence of the presence of God, was revealing the highest level of faith. Hers was not the trust of a child, nor the blind faith of those at lower levels of belief, but the highest, deepest, and most dependent reliance.

From a historical perspective, Mother Teresa's experience has been so common for so long that it has its own name: "the dark night of the soul." Great believers of the past, of all shapes and sizes, types and denominations, have experienced lengthy bouts of agonizing doubts.

Amongst Catholics, to name a few, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint Teresa of Lisieux (from whom Mother Teresa took her religious name) all endured the absence of God's presence. Of many representative Protestant believers, Martin Luther is a primary case study. So intangible was Luther's Christ, that Luther developed an entire "theology of the Cross" to explain the paradox of a God who is most present in His very absence.
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170 of 184 people found the following review helpful By J. Revel on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mother Theresa began her missionary work in the late 40s and has become one of the most beloved figures of the twentieth century. Her compassion for the poor and her devotion to the cause has brought her great admiration from believers and non-believers alike.

For the first time we are able to get a glimpse of the inner workings of her brain and heart. "I am told God lives in me -- and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul," she writes in one of her letters that help shed light into her plight to feel the presence of God. Mother Theresa suffered for her faith. "There is nothing but emptiness and darkness," she declared. They say suffering is needed for Sainthood. She definitely passed that test. Some may find it disappointing that a person as holy as Mother Theresa struggled with her faith. I personally found it rather consoling. It helps me relate during those moments of doubt and questioning.

She might have questioned her faith; she might have felt the emptiness of God's presence, from time to time, but she never questioned her mission to serve and to do God's will. These types of dichotomies abound the entire book. Here is a perfect example: "But when I was eighteen, I decided to leave my home and become a nun, and since then, this forty years, I've never doubted even for a second that I've done the right thing; it was the will of God. It was his Choice."

Although Mother Theresa had asked that these letters, that spanned decades, be destroyed upon her death, they have been published in this book that will inspire millions to live her example of faith; to live her example of sacrifice and to get closer to God.
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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Bernard W. Ernette on October 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am an Evangelical pastor of nearly 25 years. Nobdoy has spoken of the spiritual dryness that we SO reluctantly admit to, as Mother Theresa. No wonder she wanted her letters burned, we may still not be ready for the reality of Christ. She approaches only the Apostle Paul in doing so. She teaches that if we aproach the benefits of following our risen saviour only in terms of self-gratification, we miss the whole point. Our Lord will withhold it, to test and clarify our desire to follow him for no other reason than to gain Him. I do not claim to have grasped the things she testifies to, only to see at a distance that she is correct and the things she suffered where not punishement for sin, but the course of growth in Christ which, as Augustine ponted out, is only achieved for it's own sake, with no regard to present benefit. She moved forward, without regard to personal gain, because she grasped the overwheleming reality of Christ our Saviour. Buy the book when you are ready to be drawn into Christ centered spiritual maturity that no seminary,Sunday School, nor Sunday preaching could have prepared you for.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Darren Pollock on October 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"I am told God loves me--and yet the reality of darkness and coldness
and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul."

I wrote this quotation on the white board at the beginning of a recent Sunday School lesson on the Israelites' wilderness wanderings and asked the kids who they thought had written it. Their guesses ranged from Kurt Cobain to Alanis Morissette to Sylvia Plath...people we associate with acute depression or drugs or angry rejections of the world. No one supposed the meek, humble, seemingly always-at-peace saint, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This response from my junior and senior highers mirrored the response of Christians all over the world when these private letters and journals of Mother Teresa were made public for the first time a couple months ago.
For those who have not yet seen the book, it offers a remarkably candid and penetrating insight into the depth of Mother Teresa's spiritual life, revealing a surprising and tragic absence of any sense of God's presence or comfort with her for most of the final 50 years of her life. I have found myself reading her letters and diary entries with a mix of voyeuristic curiosity, heartwrenching concern, and a desire to glean wisdom from this luminary of Christian history.
Many times Mother Teresa begged that these papers be destroyed, and I can't blame her for desiring that; I would be mortified if my deepest thoughts and feelings-- intended for myself, for God, or for my closest confidants-- were made public. And there would be an added sense of betrayal, as opposed to, say, posting something on a myspace page that eventually made its way to unintended eyes. Ultimately, the Catholic Church decided that Teresa's own spiritual experience belonged not to herself, but to the Church.
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