Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light - The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta

by Mother Teresa

Other authorsBrian Kolodiejchuk (Editor)
Hardcover, 2007



Call number

271 MOT



Call number

271 MOT




During her lifelong service to the poor, Mother Teresa became an icon of compassion to people of all religions; her extraordinary contributions to the care of thousands whom nobody else was prepared to look after have been recognized and acclaimed throughout the world. Little was known, however, about her own spiritual heights, or her struggles. This collection of her writing and reflections, almost all of which have never been made public before, sheds light on Mother Teresa's interior life in a way that reveals the depth and intensity of her holiness for the first time. A moving chronicle of her spiritual journey--including moments, indeed years, of utter desolation--these letters reveal the secrets she shared only with her closest confidants. She emerges as a classic mystic whose inner life burned with the fire of charity and whose heart was tested and purified by an intense trial of faith.--From publisher description.… (more)

Local notes



Doubleday Religion (2007), 404 pages

Original publication date



0385520379 / 9780385520379


(73 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member DubiousDisciple
Maybe you read the story of Mother Teresa from her friends, those who served alongside her. Maybe you read it differently from her detractors, like Christopher Hitchens. Here is the story from her own hand … a brutally honest account, because she had no intention of anyone ever reading it. This is an annotated collection of her personal letters, mostly to those in authority over her in the Church. She begged repeatedly that these letters be destroyed, so that the world would never know what was in her heart as she ministered in Calcutta among the poorest of the poor. But the Church, after beautifying her as a saint, felt the letters were an important part of Catholic history. Rather than destroying them, after her death they were published in this book.

For the first time, the rest of the world was made aware of the deep darkness inside this saint. Mother Teresa had pleaded over and over with the Church to be allowed to go to India and set up a ministry there for the poor. She felt she had received direction straight from Jesus for this task, and that by being a help and comfort to them—the forsaken, the lepers, the hungry, the sick—she was sharing the love of Jesus. Years, she waited for permission, before it was granted. But almost immediately upon arrival, she began to feel a darkness in her soul. She felt no God there in India. God had abandoned her, leaving only darkness, despair, and doubt. Doubt about whether there was a heaven; doubt at times about even His existence. For nearly fifty years until her death, she struggled with darkness in her soul, painting a smile on her face so as to be an encouragement to others, while bearing the pain alone.

“The place of God in my soul is blank—There is no God in me—when the pain of longing is so great—I just long and long for God—and then it is that I feel—He does not want me—He is not there—“

Every single letter in the book, I believe, contained a plea for others to pray for her, that she could endure the darkness.

“Pray for me—for within me everything is icy cold.”

“I am told God loves me—and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. … The whole time smiling …my cheerfulness is the cloak by which I cover the emptiness & misery.”

I get the feeling that even the book’s author, in collecting and presenting these letters, underestimated the depth of Mother Teresa’s hopelessness:

“If there be no God—there can be no soul.—If there is no soul then Jesus—You also are not true.—Heaven, what emptiness—not a single thought of Heaven enters my mind—for there is no hope. … In my heart there is no faith—no love—no trust—there is so much pain—the pain of longing, the pain of not being wanted. … I don’t pray any longer.

“If there is hell—this must be one. How terrible it is to be without God—no prayer—no faith—no love.”

The darkness never lifted. I think it was only in about the last ten years of her life that she finally made peace with it, comparing it to the darkness Jesus felt in the Garden, and on the cross. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Mother Teresa found in the darkness a “greater identification with the poor,” and in this way, lived out the rest of her life in service.
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LibraryThing member Steve777
Very inspiring book of how this amazing woman continued to serve the poorest of the poor despite her own severe spiritual dryness.
LibraryThing member spotofrain
This is an excellent book providing direct access to Mother Teresa, in her own words. She was truly a saint.
LibraryThing member maryreinert
I probably would not have purchased this book had it not been for the cover story in a major news magazine. This story made me very curious to read more and to "see for myself". I'm so happy that I did.

Not being Catholic, there was much in the book that does not seem relevant to me, especially the bureaucracy of the church. However, there is so much more that is relevant to anyone who has searched and not found a faith that is sustaining. The book speaks to the need of humanity to touch something larger than ourselves and the need to be touched by something larger than ourselves by whatever name we may call God.

This is an inspiring book. I recommended it highly for anyone who has ever questioned their faith.
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LibraryThing member tmcilvain
Interesting portrayal of Mother Terese through her correspondence with spiritual directors, bishops and fellow catholics. After several chapters you get a good understanding of her perspective and suffering, and the rest of the book is almost superfluous.
LibraryThing member shannonkearns
i really enjoyed this book in a lot of respects, although i felt badly about reading all of this personal correspondence that Mother Teresa really wanted destroyed, so that was a little difficult. also, the priest who put this whole book together is the one who is trying to get mother teresa cannonized and so i thought that he tried to explain some things away in order to make her look better.reading the stuff she wrote is intense and there was definitely a lot of spiritual struggle going on in her. the fact that she kept to the work in spite of it all is really remarkable and inspiring. i don't know, though, that i buy what the author tried to put forth and that is that her suffering was a result of her immense spirituality, meaning that because she was practically already a saint she was living in darkness. i think that really patronizes her experience and makes light of her suffering which was frustrating.overall i really liked the book but i had some mixed feelings about how it was all presented. but it's definitely fascinating. and i am sure glad that i am not a catholic nun cause man, that would suck.… (more)
LibraryThing member nicholasjjordan
So moving, hopefully even life-changing. I am greatly annoyed, however, at how highly edited and shallowly commented on it is. I was left really wanting a published version of her journals, with footnotes, but little to no in-text comments.
LibraryThing member cindyb29
Wanted to read about how she dealt with her darkness of the soul. Makes me wonder about God and Jesus though. One one hand she got a message from Jesus to start the Missions of Charity, but on the other hand Jesus wants her to suffer??? He is pleased with suffering? Not what I expected to read--very dismayed to see that. Just made me more confused than ever about Christianity.… (more)
LibraryThing member ahaehl
I still think she was depressed, and I fear that holding her up as a model may discourage people (esp Catholics) from getting psychological help. I also wonder about her commitment not to tell about her inner life--perhaps that's necessary for living in community. Certainly if you want the information in this book it is here. I did occasionally get a little annoyed at the editor. She comes up with a totally impractical of the sisters supporting themselves with farming--and he says the bishop just doesn't understand.… (more)
LibraryThing member davidpwithun
I think my own high expectations for this book spoiled it for me. Way, way too repetitiously repetitive. I was bored after only the first few chapters. The book dwells on her inner darkness throughout and seems to restate the same thing over and over in different ways, and sometimes in the same way. It would have been much better if some more of her public speeches or writings on other topics were included. It made her seem almost as onesided as the book itself is.… (more)


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