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on August 11, 2016
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand it was a real blessing for me. I went through (and somewhat I am still going through) one of the darkest periods of my life. During some of the most darkest times, I have cried out to God in tears: “Oh God, I need You. I need to hear from you. Something. Something to know you are there. A whisper, or just a touch. Just to know that you are there.” Many times I cried out and prayed this. And I got NOTHING. Not a touch, not a word. Nothing. And I got mad at God, to the point of asking: “If God is not there for you when you really need Him, what good is He?” How’s that for a blasphemous question? Honestly, my faith was shaken, I’m sorry to admit.
And that is why this book has been such a blessing. It has given me understanding and answers to some of my questioning. It has helped me to grow in my faith in God again. A God that is loving. A God that is there for me, even when He seems to be ignoring me, and turning His back on me. If you are in a place that is making you feel this way, then I recommend this book for you. It has been a blessing to me, and I pray that it will bless you too.

Now on the other hand, this book was a betrayal. Mother Theresa on many occasions made it explicitly clear that she did not want these letters to be published. She wanted them destroyed upon her death. They were entrusted to her spiritual leaders/advisors, and they betrayed this trust. They published her letters, which are in this book. I know from reading this book that because of her humility, and because of her submission to those in authority over her, that she probably would not see it this way. But because I am not where Mother Teresa is spiritually, that is how I see it. Which is what makes me conflicted about this book. While I am glad it was published after all, I can’t but help feel that her trust was betrayed. Maybe if, and when I get to where Mother Teresa was spiritually, I’ll feel differently. I hope this helps you.
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on October 14, 2016
Most of us go through our lives convinced something is wrong with us. We shouldn't feel this way, we shouldn't doubt that thing... If only we were saint-like - you know, like Mother Teresa? Then everything would be better. We'd never feel weakness or doubt or... or would we?
According to Mother Teresa herself, we would.
That's the beauty of this book.
Jesus Christ loves you in your imperfection, even when you can't feel Him.
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on November 4, 2017
This book is such a treasure, and I am beyond grateful to God to have had it change my life in the way it has. It has taken my own spirituality to a far greater level than it would've ever reached on its own had I not read the memoir of one of the greatest Saints to have ever lived (and my own personal favorite Saint at that). I feel so much joy in knowing that I have many things in common with St. Teresa of Calcutta, and it gives me strength to persevere through my own spiritual struggles that threaten to overwhelm me often times. The words in this book often echo through my mind throughout my days, and give me hope to carry on and fulfill Christ's words in my own life- Come Be My Light. We all have the opportunity to be Christ's Light in one way or another, whether great or small, known or unknown, loudly or quietly. But regardless of the way in which we act as Christ's Light, we all have St. Teresa of Calcutta as the perfect example to follow in carrying this out- humbly, courageously, and gently, staying true to the example of Christ Himself. St. Teresa serves as an inspiration to embrace suffering as joining Christ in His Passion, and striving to satiate His unquenchable thirst- the most beautiful concepts that I have ever dwelt on that came from this book.
This memoir has changed my life and my relationship with God, and gives me a greater appreciation for St. Teresa of Calcutta and the concept of suffering with grace to answer a greater calling. I am most grateful that she is finally where she was meant to be after all of her time spent here on Earth thirsting for God- with Christ Himself, her thirst fully satiated at last. And yet even now, she continues to answer His call from Heaven and bring those out of darkness here on Earth.
May God bless you all for reading this book and changing your own life in the process!
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on May 25, 2017
This is a phenomenal book about a phenomenal saint! Written in clear and simple language, St. Theresa of Calcutta illustrates how thirsting for Christ in the poorest of the poor brought joy to her and those she served in His Name. A must read for anyone striving to be a better person!
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on December 4, 2012
I was ambivalent about the release of this "memoir" for a very long time, despite being a considerable admirer/devotee of the good Mother and her Sisters in the Missionaries of Charity -- souls who continue to "live" the Gospel up at the sharp end. One of the graces about reading of Teresa's life is that I do not ever come away feeling self-conscious about my own comparatively abysmal spiritual deficiencies. Rather, I always feel inspired ... As if I have indeed encountered heroic Christian virtue/witness. We need all we can get of that. Bitter cynics will always be repelled by abject holiness, so those sybaritic louts who have sought to discredit Mother Teresa always get a mere eye-roll from me: please, folks -- if you're going to focus your energies on exposing religious hucksters, have a gander at any number of televangelists currently snug in their mansions and/or Lear jets. Mother Teresa's life and work have already been scrutinized to the nth degree by the Vatican's own canonical "devil's advocates" and the woman is virtually beyond reproach, so just deal with it already.

I guess that sort of invasive spotlight on Mother's private life was also the big reason I did not want to read this book for the longest time. Teresa explicitly and frequently asked her superiors and friends to burn her private letters (not because she had anything to hide, but because she was the embodiment of humility and wanted no attention for herself. "I want Jesus to be credited for everything, always," she repeats throughout her private correspondences. And she meant it.) I did not agree with the overarching claim of the Catholic Church that view her life as some sort of "saintly property" -- and I do not respect her superiors/friends for disobeying/betraying her wishes, even though I know they "meant well" within a Roman Catholic canonical purview and that they loved her. I do not have a problem with the very edifying and beautiful Catholic veneration of particularly heroic Christians ("saints"), but I recoil from some of the more ghoulish and untoward excesses associated with said devotion. I rue the day when Mother Teresa is fully canonized and The Church will literally plunder her tomb for pieces of bone to be dispersed around the world and poke and prod her remains ... To say nothing of the cheap made-in-China dashboard statues of the good mother that will crop-up by the millions. The cult of the saints has not, by any means, always been one of the more tasteful aspects of Roman Catholic orthopraxis. The witness of Mother Teresa's extraordinary love for Christ made manifest in her care for the poor, her approved writings, and the happy surety of her heavenly intercession ought to be more than enough.

But we now have access to the private letters she wanted destroyed, so (in graceful fashion) we are indeed better for their preservation, not worse. What do her private letters reveal? They reveal much that one would expect from a woman who clearly lived the life of a true Christian mystic along the lines of Paul of Tarsus, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc. She experienced profound episodes of spiritual aridity and immolation as she went about her prayerful way, but these episodes (like those experienced by St. Paul and others ... even millions of "everyday" Christians) only drew her more deeply to her Light, which was always and exclusively Christ. In many ways, one can see the miracle of this "dark dance with the Lord" -- her vocation was not based upon being cloistered and immersed in lonely contemplation. She could have lived that life, mystic that she was, and perhaps would have produced writings of astonishing spiritual complexity. Her personal love of Christ was so profound that such a contemplative life may even have been her natural "tendency" --she was shy and unwilling to attract attention to herself in any way. If had been swept off her feet in daily mystical raptures, the Missionaries of Charity would never have come into existence. It is extraordinary to read these letters and see the ways in which God clearly challenged her faith, and tested her soul for the good of the vocation to which she had been summoned, and it was a backbreaking one. The ineffable beauty of it all, of course, is that Mother Teresa put her belief solidly in Christ even when he seemed light-years away to her, even when the tragedy of the human condition could have easily overwhelmed her circumstances. When God seemed to hide his face from her, she sought him out all the more passionately and relentlessly. And she held fast to her conviction that the friends of Christ should always, always be cheerful. She suffered disconsolate moments, but did not waver. THAT is faith, and her story (heroic virtue or no heroic virtue) is the story of every Christian believer. That is another theme Teresa touched-upon constantly in her letters; all Christians are called to be saints, wherever they are, in big ways ir small ways. It's all about faith. I would recommend reading Paul's letters to the Corinthians before reading this book, as a spiritual preparation, and certainly the Gospel accounts of Christ's desert sojourn and his anguish in Gethsemane, etc. Spiritual tests are part of the Christian path, and Teresa was not exempt. Thank heaven.

Her letters do not in any way contain accounts only of her spiritual "desert" times. There were of course many oasis moments for the reader to now behold, and the entire collection certainly sheds a frankly thrilling light upon the spiritual profundity empowering the ministry of a tiny woman who lived only to love Christ and to express that love without reservation by seeing him in "the least of" his brothers and sisters.
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on December 16, 2017
A Very Surprising Book... Goes into great detail about why Mother Teresa gave up her cushy job at an all girl's catholic school for working/living in Calcutta...based on her personal correspondence with her superiors. I just wish the book explained why the Archbishop took so long to make a decision (she had to get his permission). I'm still reading this so maybe it's explained later on in the book...but I doubt it.
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on September 18, 2016
Fabulous book. If you love Mother Teresa, you will love this book. It is pointed and quite revealing into the life of a Saint. Her letters are a honest look at what it means to be a Christian. It shows that even the most godly individual lives a life that is not peaches and cream every day however, every day with Jesus is peaches and cream. You will grow spiritually.
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on June 14, 2008
This book was picked up on a whim, it was on sale and I, frankly, had never read a book on Mother Teresa. The movie "Madre Teresa" is dynamic and full of hope, but it looked more at the movement than the "pencil in the hand of God" as she called herself. After about one chapter I was hooked. This is a book of sharp contrasts--Mother Teresa knows God is there, she sees His hand, she knows His love, but He seems so silent to her. It was hard to read at times as we walked with her through the "Dark Soul of the Night" (taken from her own letters and the reading by St John of the Cross). You almost wanted to reach into the book and tell her "God is there!" but then you are awakened to the very fact that many of us live the same walk with God. God's silence is so loud, yet we know He is there, even in the darkest corners of our life.

The amazing parts were her "spunk." While she took every answer as a "Yes" or "No" from God, she was not one to let others decide the answer without her sending volumes of letters explaining her rationale for every project, every idea...she almost pestered her superiors, but pester is not the right word. She exhibited passion--a trait not as evident today.

The one thing that I walked away with comes very late in the book and it will really change your life. It deals with a passage she hears read during a sermon or presentation from Psalm 68.21 (or Psalm 69.20 in the Protestant version). Read it in the NRSV...it is a powerful essay in one verse on the state of (or lack of) caring in our world. Her answer to all the sisters (and to the reader) is "Be The One." Be the one for the hurting, be the one who stands in the gap (Ezekiel), be the one for the poor man (Eccl.) and more.

As Mother Teresa reaches the end of her life the book quietly winds down to one simple story at the end. It takes place in a simple village and a simple home (I won't spoil it) but it sums up the entire book and it gives the reader a challenge for a changed life to be lived among the poorest of the poor. Every page is rich in detail. It is amazing so many people ignored her admonition to burn her letters and they kept all the correspondence...which now gives us a legacy. As a non-Catholic myself, I had heard so much rumor of her faith being more Hindu than Christian, more secular than sacred. This book sets the story straight as it takes the very words from the very letters she wrote and she received. An amazing book to have our kids read, too.
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on April 16, 2018
I’ve always been curious about mother Theresa, from reading some of her quotes, she came Accross as more a mystic than the average Christian.

The book definitely shed some light on her spiritual life and her whole outlook and purpose in life. She made it a constant practice to forget herself and to be “nothing” in order to be closer to Christ. It reminds me of Buddhist teachings of not identifying with the ego.

It’s a great book, very inspiring whether or not you’re a Christian you will find value in this one.
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VINE VOICEon August 8, 2008
Canadian born Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, PH.D, one of the founding priests of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers and now director of the Mother Teresa Foundation, has provided us with an outstanding book. The book is a chronological compilation of Mother Teresa's private letters, revealing her inspiration (the vow, the call, the locutions and the visions) for the Missionaries of Charity and her remarkable inner spiritual life. The writings have had minimal editing and almost all were written initially in English. These are the personal communications to her spiritual advisors and close friends, and were never intended for publication. Fr. Koloiejchuk adds excellent commentary throughout providing valuable insights and context. The appendix includes the rule of the Society and a diary from a retreat she made in 1959. Both are worth reading.

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. But the fruitfulness of her apostolate came at a steep price of many years of sacrifice. Not only did she live as a "woman of sorrows, familiar with suffering, bearing the suffering and burdens of the Society and the poorest of the poor." But she also lived in "spiritual darkness - the absence of God." This "darkness" would become the greatest trial of her life. She felt, if she ever became a saint, she would be called the "Saint of Darkness." Despite this, she held fast to the promise God made to her - "Do not fear - I shall be with you always...Trust me lovingly - Trust me blindly." She considered herself "a pencil in God's hand" and was convinced God was using her "nothingness" to show His greatness.

The secret of abundant light and love that Mother Teresa displayed is the essence of this book. The reader will learn that the secret lies in the depth and intimacy of her relationship to God throughout her heroic life - living the mission of being a "light to those in darkness." "Come Be My Light" is filled with passages that inspire, and passages to meditate on. It should be read slowly and integrated into one's own call and possibilities.

"Mother Teresa was a fearless missionary all her life. She had heard the voice of God calling her to serve the poor. Armed with the weapon of faith, she was not afraid to face and challenge the world to protect the interests of the most vulnerable members of human society." She was able to lift up those who had fallen, to encourage the faint, to rekindle hope in the disheartened. And most importantly, she showed us how holiness can be reached by simple means - always doing a little more than we feel ready to do for the unloved and unwanted in our society, our community, and in our homes.

Mother Teresa taught us that we each have a chance to radiate God's love to each person we meet throughout each day, thus transforming, little by little, the darkness of the world into His light.
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