Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Review: Mother Teresa's Secret Fire

Mother Teresa's Secret Fire: The Encounter that Changed Her Life, and How it Can Transform Your Own by Joseph Langford Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2008

In Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire, Fr. Joseph Langford, author and co-founder of the priests of Mother Teresa’s order and personal confidant, reveals to us the secret life of Mother Teresa – the hidden inner fire that motivated her to persevere, even in the most squalid conditions -- to become the great saint that she is.

Langford’s book is divided into three separate sections. In the first section, “Fire in the Night”, he shares the call within a call – the “divine mandate” that she received from God to be His light in the darkest of all places – to pitch her tent in the blackest of places that she might shine His radiance. He reveals the secret of why God chose Mother Teresa for this work and the inner fire that changed her life. In the second section, Illumination, he introduces the festival of light that emerges from the divine fire – the light which helped her to see the face of God more clearly in others and the light which attracted others to her. In the final section, Transformation, Langford shows how the consuming fire within changes the soul of Mother Teresa and reveals to us how it can change us as well.

As a writer, I am rarely at a loss for words, but I must tell you, Mother’s Teresa’s Secret Fire has left me speechless. I can’t think of an adequate way to describe this book that hasn’t already been said. Next to my Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this is the most spiritually vital and inspiring book that I have ever read.

I have read many books on the life and the spirituality of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and have had questions about her call and her perseverance in responding to God’s call. This book addresses those questions and explains Mother Teresa’s motivations in a clear, intimate, and beautifully inspiring way.

Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire explains in precise and descriptive terms what made her tick. It gets to the very core of her soul. As I read it, it was as if Mother Teresa was alive again and I was simply going on a long journey with her, down a path that opened a new door to my heart. It seemed as if I had been there before as if in a dream and here I was again, re-entering a beautiful garden hand in hand with her. However, I found myself not at heaven’s gate, but on the streets of Calcutta – looking into the faces of the sick and the poor – sharing their pain and their thirst – and encountering Jesus. This is a book to read and re-read – a spiritual guide which will assist you in understanding and emulating this great saint in your daily life.

Be certain of one thing: Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire will have a profound impact upon your life. Expect it to move you, to expand your capacity to love and to grow spiritually, and to open your heart to God’s will and surrender to His divine providence.

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann, January 12, 2008

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