Today in theaters across the country, the beautiful new movie The Letters shines a light on the life and legacy of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I was blessed to have a sneak peek at the film and was honestly very moved by what I experienced in this vivid retelling of the life of this saintly woman.
To orient you, here’s a look at the movie’s trailer:
MOTHER TERESA, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is considered one of the greatest humanitarians of modern times. Her selfless commitment changed hearts, lives and inspired millions throughout the world. THE LETTERS, as told through personal letters she wrote over the last 40 years of her life, reveal a troubled and vulnerable women who grew to feel an isolation and an abandonment by God. The story is told from the point of view of a Vatican priest charged with the task of investigating acts and events following her death. He recounts her life’s work, her political oppression, her religious zeal and her unbreakable spirit.
While I’ve known of Mother Teresa’s selfless service for decades, this movie crystalized her life for me in a way that challenged me personally. Especially powerful was the open treatment of Mother Teresa’ own bout with spiritual dryness, her “dark night of the soul”, as related through her longstanding correspondence with her spiritual director Fathers Celeste van Exem. What continued to amaze me in watching the movie is that even in light of the “political” challenges Mother faced and her struggles spiritually, she persisted wholeheartedly in his merciful service of others. There are several poignant examples of this in the film, including one where a family who openly scorned and rejected Mother Teresa eventually is personally touched by her service.
Few of us will be called to the profound life of total self-giving that Mother Teresa knew. But we are each called in our own ways to lives of mercy and generosity. It’s also likely that most of us will face our own moments of spiritual doubt or even crisis, times when we cannot tangibly feel God’s presence or intellectually comprehend the depths of God’s love. In The Letters, we find Mother Teresa as not only a role model for sanctity, but also as a reminder that we too are called to lives of service and saintliness, even when it’s most challenging and least fulfulling.
I invite you today to see this film and encourage you to do so with family, friends and parish community members. This is a film that will leave you wanting to chat about what it means to be a saint, what it means to serve, and how we must each persist through moments of spiritual trial if we are indeed going to give God our most fully graceful “Yes”. See the movie, then plan for a coffee date or a meal together.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents (find their full review here). The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
To ponder and discuss: What has Blessed Mother Teresa’s faith and selflessness inspired you to do in your own life? How have her writings on her own spiritual challenges inspired you to persist through periods of spiritual dryness in your life? What do you hope to take away from your experience of seeing The Letters?
Copyright 2015 Lisa M. Hendey
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The Letters (Film). The opinions and text are all mine.