Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Recommended Read - The Secret Fire of Mother Teresa by Joseph Langford

The Secret Fire of Mother Teresa
by Joseph Langford
Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2008
Non-fiction, 301 pages (including appendices)

I picked up Secret Fire because I knew little about the woman so many people look to for inspiration—and I thought I should learn something. The first section, Fire in the Night, provided the information I wanted—basics about her origins, how she arrived in Calcutta, the supernatural experience that motivated her to begin the ministry that would eventually catapult her to fame, and essentials of her spiritual orientation.

Langford doesn’t provide the story succinctly. Getting through Section One required discipline, but I wanted to know. That completed, I wondered if I wanted to read more.

It scares me to think of what I could have missed. Langford returns to the mystical experience in Section Two which is titled Illumination. Implications of the I thirst metaphor are examined, and this is where my reading pace truly slowed down—not because the narrative was slow but because the material required meditation.

A quote: As a thirsty man thinks only of water, so God thinks constantly of us . . . As a thirsty man will give anything in exchange for water, so God gladly gives all he has, and all he is, in exchange for us: his divinity for our humanity, his holiness for our sin, his paradise in exchange for our pain. (pg. 77)

And another quote, The intimate, spontaneous drive to embrace those we love points to the full merging and eternal union with the Godhead for which we were created, and which is symbolized in every human embrace. (pg. 118)

Section Three, Transformation, focuses on how Mother Teresa daily relied on her intimate time with God. The key to her metamorphosis was not human effort, but her encounters with the thirst of God. It was the mystery of this grace at work over time that transformed . . . The thirst of Jesus, which she clung to throughout her dark night. . . . (pg. 143)

Mother Teresa’s goal was becoming transparent so others would see Jesus in her, and she sought to draw others into the same experience. She embraced holiness because, Holiness points to the ultimate dignity of our human nature, and to the heights any human can attain, even when burdened with poverty and pain. (pg. 160)

I could go on and on quoting nuggets of truth. I can’t forget to mention that when she visited western countries she saw a different kind of poverty—poverty of spirit.

Two meditations are included, one within a chapter and another as an appendix. Other appendices include additional supporting Scripture texts, an anthology of quotes from Mother Teresa, and a overview of the thirst metaphor throughout church history.

I eventually used this book as devotional material. If you’re looking for a quick read, look elsewhere. If you want to be challenged by the possibility of a closer walk with God, Langford's Secret Fire would be of great interest.

I have not received compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned or pictured. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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