Key Phase of Mother Teresa´s Cause Could End by Easter

Sacred Heart Priest Is Studying Her "Dark Night of the Soul"

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- One of the most important steps for Mother Teresa´s beatification could be concluded by Easter, a priest working on the cause revealed.



Father Michael Van der Peet sent a letter to the Priests of the Sacred Heart, his brothers in religion (published in http://www.scj.org), in which he gives details on the progress of the process.

Father Van der Peet, who belongs to the U.S. province of his congregation, arrived in Rome two months ago to work with postulator Brian Kolodiejchuk, two other priests, nine Missionary Sisters of Charity, and a group of volunteers who work part-time, comprising priests, religious and lay people.

"The diocesan phase of Mother Teresa´s cause in Calcutta was concluded last fall," Father Van der Peet says. "We are now working on the ´Roman´ phase called the ´positio,´ which according to plans has to be concluded by Easter."

"We are going through the ´meat´ of the oral testimony and documents from the 80 volumes of material we have on hand," he adds.

In particular, Father Van der Peet must study a key question in Mother Teresa´s life.

"I have been asked to write a chapter on the spiritual life of Mother Teresa which comprises not only the work of her union with Christ, her mystical experiences, etc., but also the ´Dark Night of the Soul´ which was very much part of most of her life," Father Van der Peet explains.

"It is not an easy task, to say the least, and I am asking for your prayers," he says. He adds that these difficult moments were due to her "great identification with the poor."

Last September, Archbishop Henry D´Souza of Calcutta revealed that Mother Teresa experienced severe interior trials.

He told the story of the time Mother Teresa was in the Woodlands Hospital in 1996. She was found to be very perturbed, suffering from doubts and profound fears. She was hospitalized because of heart problems, and was unable to sleep.

Archbishop D´Souza thought that perhaps an evil spirit was trying to steal her interior peace and confidence in God. So he asked Father Rosario Stroscio, 79, a Salesian priest of Sicilian origin, to pray over her, with a prayer used for exorcisms. But it was not an exorcism as such.

This story led news agencies to report that Archbishop Souza told the Salesian: "You command the devil to go if he´s there. In the name of the Church, as archbishop, I command you to go and do it."

Later, the archbishop clarified: "I did not think she was possessed by an evil spirit."

In his letter, Father Van der Peet reveals: "The result of the work we are doing now will be submitted to a commission of nine theological experts chosen by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints."

The commission "will submit their findings to the Holy Father, who e-mails the final decision to proceed to the beatification or not," the priest states. "It is generally expected that the Holy Father will not wait very long to go ahead."

Father Van der Peet met Mother Teresa in 1975 when she was waiting for a bus. She asked him to preach the Spiritual Exercises to some novices. This began a long friendship.

The priest in his letter touches on the working conditions of those responsible in Rome for carrying forward the process of beatification.

"The building where we are working is a home for the homeless," he writes. "The work quarters are kind of cramped. It is truly Mother Teresa´s world."