Only One Book Tells Mother Teresa’s Full Story

September 1, 2010

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (MetroCatholic) — As the world remembers the late, soon-to-be-canonized Blessed Mother Teresa (1910-1997) on her 100th birthday today, there is just one book she wanted published about her life’s message. And she asked Fr. Joseph Langford — her longtime trusted friend and co-founder of the Missionary of Charity Fathers — to write it.

This is Mother Teresa’s true story revealed for the first time, kept hidden for more than 60 years — to help others live extraordinarily, like she did, through their own ordinary lives.

Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire: The Encounter That Changed Her Life, and How It Can Transform Your Own (Our Sunday Visitor — by Fr. Joseph Langford, MC) contains the inspiration behind Mother Teresa’s work. Her lifelong desire to help others grew out of a mystical encounter with Christ in 1946. On Sept. 10 that year, while riding a train from Calcutta to Darjeeling in the Himalayas, she experienced God in a vision, about which she hesitated to speak for almost 40 years — until 1984 with Fr. Langford.

“I waited in silence for an answer. She looked up and said, ‘Yes, it is true.’ Then after a pause, she added, ‘And one day you must tell the others….’” says Fr. Langford about the mandate Mother Teresa gave him, some 24 years prior to publishing Secret Fire. In this book, Fr. Langford details Mother Teresa’s response to a direct petition from God — as given her in the vision. The fullness of her response to what He asked is what brought the world’s attention to her.

At 48, Mother Teresa stepped away from the security of her life as a middle school principal, and with only five rupees to her name, she immersed herself in the slums of Calcutta. Within her own lifetime, her Missionaries of Charity had spread her work of love to more than 120 countries, and touched millions of lives.

“How we respond to what God asks will define our lives and our world,” says Fr. Langford. “The choice is ours.”

To try and capture the essence of Mother Teresa from splash-stories in TIME Magazine or carefully edited TV documentaries can only provide a shallow view. “Mother Teresa lived with her heart in the heavens and her hands buried in the worst this world can offer,” says Fr. Langford.

And then a few years ago, when world media attempted to portray Mother Teresa’s last days as spent doubting the existence of God, Fr. Langford clarifies what really transpired.

“Contrary to press reports, Mother Teresa did not suffer a crisis of faith … but rather, a loss of feeling of faith. What had been her usual consolation in prayer abruptly ended,” said Langford in a recent interview with Zenit News Service. “Though she would not understand it until later, she was being asked to share the same inner darkness, the same trial of belief suffered by the poor and destitute — and to endure it for their sake and for the love of her Lord.”

“Never did her lack of feeling become lack of faith,” Fr. Langford emphasizes.

And like the destitution that Christ must have felt, but which didn’t keep Him from pressing forward with His mission, “Mother Teresa would encourage us all to do the same in our own Calcutta,” says Langford. “Instead of allowing our trials and pain to become a prison, we can, as she did, make our pain a bridge into the pain of others, a bond of solidarity, a catalyst for charity.”

Our Sunday Visitor also publishes three additional books about Blessed Mother Teresa:

  • Mother Teresa: In The Shadow of Our Lady (Fr. Joseph Langford, MC)
  • Mother Teresa’s Lessons on Love & Secrets of Sanctity (Susan Conroy)
  • Listening to God with Mother Teresa (Woodeene Koenig-Bricker)

About Father Langford
Joseph Langford, M.C., began his relationship with Mother Teresa while studying theology in Rome. In 1983 she invited him to be the co-founder of her priestly community, the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. He has led retreats on Mother Teresa’s spirituality around the world and currently resides at the community’s motherhouse in Tijuana, Mexico.

Our Sunday Visitor serves millions of Catholics worldwide through its publishing, offertory, and communication services. Established in 1912 by a local parish priest, Our Sunday Visitor has grown into the nation’s largest supplier of offering envelopes, parish and diocesan mailings, books, periodicals, curriculum, address management, and stewardship services. Our Sunday Visitor is a not-for-profit organization, returning a portion of net earnings back to the Catholic community through the Our Sunday Visitor Institute. For more information, visit www.osv.com.

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