For Mother Teresa, the Dark Night of the Soul was a unique and complete identification with the suffering of Christ within his poor, ill, and abandoned. “Her interior darkness” gave her “the capacity to comprehend the feelings of the poor” and to preach to all who would listen that “the greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease.”

Finally, in the last decades of her life, through which the darkness continued unabated, Mother Teresa was able to accept her darkness as “a gift from God intensifying her solidarity with those to whom she ministered. We hear it in the wording of her “mission statement” for the Missionaries of Charity, to care for, in her words, “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

She identified loneliness, the sense of being unwanted and unloved, as a disease greater than any of those suffered by the poor. “Tuberculosis and cancer,” she said in a 1980 address to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, “are not the great diseases. I think a much greater disease is to be unwanted, unloved. The pain that these people suffer is very difficult to understand, to penetrate.”

Yet through her own dark night, she understood it. And she associated it, as she did her own long darkness, with the passion of Christ. Says her editor, “Without her interior darkness, without knowing such a longing for love and the pain of being unloved, and without this radical identification with the poor, MT would not have won over their trust and their hearts to the extent she did.”

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