Friday, August 31, 2007

Dark nights...

No, this is not a reference to first trimester nausea.

It is, however, a reference to what appears to be a major revelation for some news outlets: Mother Teresa of Calcutta (now a "Blessed") experienced for some 40+ years feelings of abandonment and the absence of God. TIME magazine recently had an entire article on the recent release of her letters and writings from this period: Come, Be My Light. A much more informative source is the May 2003 article from my very favorite periodical, First Things.

My thoughts? The "dark night" is nothing new in Catholic--or, I would even hazard, human--experience. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux (oh, they're all Carmelites!), and more (brain malfunction) all experienced a withdrawal of divine consolation at some point in their journeys to God.

Professional atheist Christopher Hitchins tells us that Mother Teresa's experience had nothing to do with God, but is simply a manifestation of her hypocritical denial of the fact that all religion is a human fabrication. She had seen the void on the other side.

Perhaps so. The Church's understanding of the "dark night" is one of a lover-beloved relationship. See the Song of Songs first. It is God, the lover, leaving the beloved alone in the "night" of the world. The beloved pines and longs for him, surviving only on an act of pure faith. Even her subjective proofs ("I feel He is with me" or "He comes to me in prayer") are gone, and her faith is purified.

The "night" is a scandal to the world, but also a great consolation (ironically?) to "we of little faith." Even in the darkness, we can serve and love the hidden God.

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