I was drawn to read Come Be My Light because Mother Teresa has been one of my favorites since childhood. Maybe it’s because I was deeply moved when I witnessed her speak to thousands gathered in the Cajun Dome in the 1990’s, or maybe it’s because in my early twenties, I aspired to a life of total poverty, serving the poorest of the poor, and radiating joy—just like her. Whatever the case may be, I’m grateful for the gift of this book and the witness of Mother Teresa’s heroic surrender. Her words have challenged me to “accept whatever he gives—and give whatever he takes with a big smile.”
A Missionary of Charity priest, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, compiled the private writings of Mother Teresa into this New York Times bestseller. He introduces us to the “Saint of Calcutta” and invites us to journey intimately with her, past the glowing countenance beloved by the world to the soul tormented by decades of desolation, darkness, and interior suffering. Mother Teresa responded with absolute abandon to God’s call to bring his light and love to those in the darkest, saddest situations. She vowed never to refuse him anything, but at times felt she was on the verge of refusing because the passion she was called to undergo was so extreme. There was extraordinary grace, however, in the pain which so intimately united her to her crucified Lord and to the emptiness and sorrow of the destitute people she served.
The recurring theme of Mother Teresa’s life was that she gave her “Yes” to God and a smile to all. The timeliness of this message is great. I know it took a certain courage for her to give her “Yes” and a smile when she was called to cradle malnourished orphans or care for a poor person, dying and forgotten. Yet she showed greater courage still in saying “Yes” when called to endure feelings of doubt, confusion, and abandonment. Over and over again, God asked her to do things she did not want to do. He asked her to love people, be patient with her community, smile when she was annoyed, and persevere when she did not see results. In everything, she was obedient, and with great love, she would say, “All for Jesus.” Her example is exactly the light we need in the blackness of these times. When everything we know has been shaken, the world is in discord, any plans we’ve made are crumbling, and sin abounds—we are called to be Christ’s light by giving our “Yes” to him and a smile to all!
Thank you for your witness to this beautiful truth, Susanna!! Your smile changes the world. Thank you for letting us see Christ in you.
It’s true. A different Emily confirms it. Before I knew you, I was stuck by your beaming smile after you receive the Eucharist at mass. One day we’ll worship together again….sans masks.
Thank you Susanna, this is so poignant for such a time as this. I love your reflection on what it takes to be God’s light – all it takes is “EVERYTHING” as mom always says.