What was the secret fire that fueled Mother Teresa? That is the question that Father Joseph Langford who co-founded the Missionaries of Charity Fathers with Mother Teresa, attempts to answer in Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire: The Encounter That Changed Her Life and It Can Transform Your Own.
The first section, “Fire in the Night,” tells of Mother Teresa’s Inspiration Day – September 10, 1946 in which she received her call within a call – “a divine mandate to leave the convent and go out to serve the poor in the slums.” More importantly, “she had been graced with an overwhelming experience with God,” an experience which she largely kept secret for many years.
The second section, “Illumination” explores the light that emanated from Mother Teresa. People “could feel the presence of God in Mother Teresa; they intuited her holiness, and were drawn to it.” Being “light would become the focus of Mother Teresa’s entire vocation.” She experienced great darkness in her own spiritual life, but that darkness enabled her to share in the pain of the people that she ministered to. She was sent to shown them God’s love, to bring them light. She wanted to show all of us how to do the same in whatever place we find ourselves in this world.
The final section, “Transformation,” illustrates how the “consuming fire” within the young Sister Teresa turned her into Mother Teresa “and how it can transform us as well.” The initial moment of inspiration was just the beginning. What fueled Mother Teresa throughout her life was her ongoing prayer with God. “Prayer was the flame that rekindled the secret fire she carried within.” Prayer is available to each and every one of us. “The gift of God’s love is the fruit of a free and personal decision; one that cannot be coerced and manipulated, but only requested, yearned for, and waited on in prayer.” God will always respond.
Mother Teresa’s central message, the secret that she received on the train that September day in 1946, was the thirst of Jesus. Jesus wants each of us. God always loves us. He yearns for our love in return. We are all born with the desire for God. “Only God can satisfy us.” In “Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire,” Father Langford does a remarkable job of promoting Mother Teresa’s message and sharing it with the world.