The truth is, union with God is a matter of faith and not of feelings or emotions. That doesn’t mean those wonderfully warm and tender feelings are to be rejected. It only means that feelings and emotions will come and go. They should not be used as criteria for judging our union or closeness to God.
In reading the lives of the saints and their own autobiographies, we learn about those who experienced ecstasy and dramatic senses of God’s presence. Those are exceptions to the rule: most saints struggled with prayer and with sensing the nearness of God. But we think that it should be just the opposite.
One of the most powerful and contemporary examples was that of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta). Her entire adult life was engaged in two aspects of holiness: one was caring for the lepers and the abandoned on the streets of Kolkata; the second was her heart-wrenching struggle with doubts and fears of being abandoned by God. For most of her life, she experienced nothing of God’s presence.
That’s easy to put in words, but imagine the emptiness she experienced in her ministry. She labored and worked with great intensity, but with seemingly no response from God. Nothing! And yet we know she was saintly because of her dedication to the poor. We can only imagine how deeply God was imbedded in her heart and soul.