18 August 2009

The Greatest Gift of Love

“By blood, I am Albanian, by citizenship, an Indian, by faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” Many would read or hear those words and be able to deduce that they came from Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Most important is the last part of that statement: “I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

The Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, even in the arduous, grueling work of her Order, plus the obligatory, time consuming prayers of the Church which she dutifully and faithfully did, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta still found time daily to be with the Heart of Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration. This was the secret of Mother Teresa, although it is not a secret, and certainly nothing she was trying to hide. She was quite bold in her profession of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. She said: “I know I would not be able to work one week if it were not for that continual force coming from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” The world would be a very different place if we all were adorned with that same conviction.

The secular psyche, after a long, tiring day is trained to sit back in a comfortable chair or couch, maybe have a cold drink, and perhaps drift into a power nap. But Jesus said: “Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Matthew 11:28). Mother Teresa took to heart what Jesus said and knew that He meant it; and she taught the same to her Sisters. She said: “When the Sisters are exhausted, up to their eyes in work; when all seems to go awry, they spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This practice has never failed to bear fruit -- they experience peace and strength.”

This time spent in Adoration with Jesus is also important for the work of the Missionaries of Charity, as Mother explained: “All of us know that unless we believe and can see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar, we will not be able to see Him in the distressing disguise of the poor. Therefore these two loves are but one in Jesus.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s concerns, however, were not limited to her personal refreshment or to those of her Order; and they were not even limited to the poor, the hungry, the homeless and forgotten who were and continue to be the main work of the Missionaries of Charity -- to be Jesus for those that Mother Teresa called, “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” Mother Teresa's concerns also extended to teaching all of us. And what did she teach us? This was her plea: “Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that Adoration. Our hours of Adoration will be special hours of reparation for sins, and intercession for the needs of the whole world, exposing the sin-sick and suffering humanity to the healing, sustaining and transforming rays of Jesus, radiating from the Eucharist. Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power.”

We see an image of the Crucifix hanging above the altars of our churches. From the Cross Jesus said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Blessed Teresa instructs us: “From the Blessed Sacrament Jesus continues to say to each of us: ‘I thirst.’ He thirsts for our personal love, our intimacy, our union with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. His longing for us to be with Him in the Blessed Sacrament is infinitely greater than our longing to be with Him.” And so, Mother added: “When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta never forgot, as hopefully we never will, that there is one, when it comes to the Adoration of Jesus, who knows how to do it perfectly. Read on as one Mother promotes another: “Through Mary the cause of our joy you discover that no where on earth are you more welcomed, no where on earth are you more loved, than by Jesus, living and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. To be alone with Jesus in Adoration and intimate union with Him is the greatest gift of love -- the tender love of our Father in Heaven.”