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As a deer pants for flowing streams,
So pants my soul for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1, ESV)

Mother Teresa recorded her longing to feel the presence of the Lord everywhere, not just in the letters published in Come Be My Light, an excellent book edited by Father Kolodiejchuk. It is emblazoned on the wall next to the crucifix in every one of the Missionaries of Charity chapels all over the world - I thirst. Mother believed Jesus' was thirsty for souls; She was thirsty for him.

Much of Mother Teresa's writing reads like an instruction manual on right ways to suffer redemptively. With Paul, she could have said, "For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things … that I may share his sufferings, becoming like him in death" (Philippians 3: 8,10).

It appears that some saints go through excruciating purgation, a kind of suffering that increasingly separates them from the desires of the world and makes them more able to accomplish the purposes for which Christ has called them.

Teresa of Avila, author of the classic work on prayer The Interior Castle, went through 18 years of dryness, saying prayers of the church with her mouth but not her heart. Thomas Aquinas at the end of his life had a single encounter with God that made him say that all he had written was as straw compared to the reality of God. This so grieved him that he never wrote another word and died four months later.

John of the Cross wrote, "They harbor in the midst of the dryness and emptiness of their faculties, a habitual care and solitude for God accompanied by grief or fear about not serving him. It is a sacrifice pleasing to God—that of a spirit in desperate solicitude for his love … it begins to kindle in the spirit divine love."

True to John of the Cross's ...

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September 2007

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