The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross is a beautiful memoir of suffering, faith, courage, and hope.
Some of Donna's past work has offered peeks into the challenges she's faced in life but in The Kiss of Jesus we find the entire, compelling tale. Donna-Marie's story is an illustration of the powerful truth that God’s grace bursts through all barriers, that He can and will transform every suffering, no matter how bleak our lives feel in times of great trial, into redemptive beauty.
In a brief interview, I asked Donna-Marie to share a little more about the process of writing her memoir:
The Kiss of Jesus is your most personal book to date. What prompted you to share more intimately with your readers at this point in your life and career?
I really believe that it is God’s timing on my memoir. It is my twentieth book. During the past ten years I have been writing books to teach the faith, to encourage hope in others, and to inspire faith. Now, it’s time to tell more of my own personal story because I believe that by doing so, readers will relate to many of the trials and struggles that I have endured and will feel a sense of hope knowing that if I could get through the challenges and dark corners, they can too.
As well, I think that sharing more intimately will help others who have seen me on EWTN or have heard me on the radio and don’t realize that I have had a crazy crooked path in life. Quite possibly they may see that they can more readily trust the message I strive to express, because I can understand their pain and struggles since I have been in those dark corners too.
Was this book easier to write than you thought it would be, or was it more difficult?
Good question, Karen! It was really a bit of both. Some parts flowed effortlessly while other parts which described some of the traumatic parts of my life were very tough to do. It wasn’t that it was difficult to formulate the words to express those parts. But, rather, it was hard to relive the events during the telling.
In addition, another difficult part of the journey in writing this book is that I needed to be very mindful and careful because I wanted to protect all of the people in my book.
Readers will find the answer to this in the book, but perhaps you can give us a little preview: You have endured a great amount of suffering, and yet you never lost your faith. Did you always feel the Lord's guidance, even in the darkest times, or did you go through some dark nights of doubt?
Many of my struggles were deep and intensely painful. While I did not lose my faith, I did experience many arid times when our Lord was completely silent. I believe that He wanted me to continue to surrender my heart to Him and ask Him to show me the way despite whatever I was feeling at the time. We can never operate on mere feelings. I am thankful to have had a foundation of prayer instilled in my heart early on which prodded me to retreat to prayer whenever things were tough. Possibly, this grace has prodded me to do what I can to encourage parents to raise their children in the faith.
Looking back, it would seem that the theological virtue of hope was actively working in my heart and kept moving me forward in faith and love. Thank God for that beautiful gift of hope!
If you had to sum up, in just a few words or sentences, the answer to, "How do we handle the sufferings that come our way?" what would you say?
We pray. The answer is very simple—we must pray. It’s the only way to survive. It’s the only way to grow in holiness throughout life’s challenges. I believe that our life is a journey in which we work out our salvation so that we not only make it to heaven one day. But, also because of our lives of love (through the choices we make and the people we serve), we will help to bring countless souls there too.
Our Lord wants us to grow closer to Him and He allows us to partake in some redemptive suffering at times throughout our lives. At those times it would be beneficial to try to remember the “eternal weight of glory” (“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” 2 Corinthians: 4:17).
Thank you for your interview, Karen!