A Saint for Those Who Suffer From Loneliness, Abandonment and Despair

COLUMN: Mother Teresa’s suffering instilled in her a deep drive to show souls the importance of trusting in God’s love even when they cannot feel his presence.

Zvonimir Atletic/Shutterstock
Zvonimir Atletic/Shutterstock

Mother Teresa, who became our newest saint on Sept. 4, lived during our own times, witnessing to the Gospel in the modern world.

Her deeply lined face, lit by a perpetual smile, her wise words so often in the news and her love-filled mission were well known internationally.

But it was not until after her death that many of her private letters, written to her spiritual directors and compiled by the postulator for her cause, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, in the beautiful book he edited, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, revealed another side to the spiritual life of Mother Teresa. These letters tell of her mystical call to serve the poor — and also detail her long experience of darkness and abandonment in the years that followed.

Mother Teresa was already serving with the Sisters of Loreto in Kolkata when, on Sept. 10, 1946, she received a “call within a call” to go out from the convent to serve the poorest of the poor.

A vision of Jesus on the cross saying, “I thirst,” was followed by other interior visions and messages from the Lord. In one vision, Teresa saw a great crowd of people covered in darkness, calling out to her, “Come … bring us to Jesus!” She understood that she was being asked to satiate Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls by serving those living in the darkness of poverty and despair. Teresa spent the rest of her life bringing the light and love of Christ to the poor, the abandoned and the unloved.

The graces she received as she began her work were followed by long years of spiritual darkness and the loss of all consolation. Her interior darkness was so great that she stated in one letter, “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.”

Teresa often spoke of the great need for love, because she intimately understood that the greatest of all suffering was to be unloved. In tending to the material needs of the poor and the unwanted, she brought them the true gift: God’s infinite love.

Sharing in the painful spiritual suffering of Christ later became her deepest joy. Mother Teresa was at last able to say, “I have come to love the darkness … for I believe now that it is a part, a very small part, of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth.”

Mother Teresa’s suffering instilled in her a deep drive to show souls the importance of trusting in God’s love even when they cannot feel his presence.

“Jesus wants me to tell you again … how much is the love he has for each one of you — beyond all that you can imagine. … He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy,” as she put it.

With understanding love, Teresa will surely be the heavenly patron of those who suffer from loneliness, abandonment and despair, forever bringing the healing light of God’s love to all who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Nancy Murray writes from

Richland, Washington.


Representing the Holy Spirit that descended “like a dove” and hovered over Jesus when he was baptized.

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