Joan French BaumelNovember 19, 2007 - 11:47am0 comments
Some years ago I read that Mother Teresa had told New York’s John Cardinal O’Connor that the best way for him to help her would be to pick up a broom and sweep. I was delighted. Here was a woman who helped the poor and called on influential leaders to do the same.
When I read recently that Mother Teresa had gone years without feeling the presence of God, it came as a shock. What would St. John of the Cross have thought of so long a dark night of the soul? I think he would have understood. I understand-not because I’m a saint, but because I once had my own dark night.
It began when I was in the novitiate of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As I look back on the time I spent there, some nine months in all, the convent jargon floods my mind: we were to seek “custody of the eyes,” to strive for “perfect recollection,” to avoid “particular friendships.” I also have many happy memories of the convent: the wise and compassionate guidance I received from the mistress of novices; singing the praises of God and the Virgin Mary; teaching French to other postulants and novices; the blessed silence.
After six months as a postulant, I was ready to take the habit. A day before the ceremony, each member of our little group of postulants was given a biblical quotation to mull over. Mine: “Harken, O daughter, and consider and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people and thy father’s house; so...