Be Jesus' love, Jesus' compassion, Jesus' presence
The Most Holy Eucharist is the lifeblood of the Church. In it the whole
spiritual wealth of the Church is contained, for the Eucharist is the
source and summit of the whole Christian life.
There is little wonder, then, that the Holy Father, Pope John Paul
II, declared from October 2004 to October 2005 the "Year of the
Eucharist" (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine, n. 4). We are invited to
contemplate the great mystery of the Eucharist and live as much as
possible the Eucharistic life: true Christian life is Eucharistic life.
The Holy Mass and Communion are inseparable from the life of a
Christian. Its fruitfulness depends on how we prepare ourselves and how
we participate in Holy Mass.
Many saints spent half a day in thanksgiving for the Mass and Holy
Communion, while devoting the other half to its preparation.
In the sacristies of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity all
over the world, one can see a little board hanging to remind each priest
that he should celebrate each Mass with devotion, freshness,
contemplation and enthusiasm. The board says:
Priest of God,
Celebrate this Mass as if it is your first Mass,
Your last Mass and your only Mass.
Of course, these words apply to the celebrant as well as the
Three parts of Holy Mass
The celebration of the Mass has three distinct parts.
'Way of purification'
The first part is a very short Penitential Rite. Its main purpose is
to prepare and dispose the celebrant as well as the participants to
listen to the Word of God and receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner.
The fruitfulness of the Mass depends on our inner disposition, how
prepared we are to receive God's rich graces. This initial short
Penitential Rite can be compared to the "way of purification" in the
beginning of our spiritual life. It is the first step in our spiritual
life. It depends much on one's effort, generosity, good will and above
all, one's cooperation with the graces of God.
It can be and it is always a very painful process, because it
necessarily involves sacrificing one's own will to accept God's will.
'Way of illumination'
This process is repeated and renewed in each celebration of the Mass.
It prepares us for the next step, which is known as the "way of
illumination", and as part of the Mass is known as the Liturgy of the
No sower sows the seed if the field is not properly prepared. The
sower invariably knows that it will be a sheer waste of time to sow
seeds in a field that is not ploughed, cleared and manured.
The same principle applies to each celebrant and participant of the
Mass, especially with the Word of God being sown into our hearts at
The Liturgy of the Word is not only an essential part of the
Eucharistic Sacrifice, but also an integral part of our spiritual
nourishment and growth. We must be well prepared and disposed to listen
to it; this means, if possible, to read the texts beforehand, to
reflect, meditate and contemplate on them, not only on the part of the
homilist but by all who celebrate and participate in the Holy Mass. The
homily should awaken the seed
of faith in the listener, which may be dormant in the hearts of some
believers. The quality of the homily does not depend on length but on
how well it is prepared and how convincingly it is delivered.
There is a definite difference between what we copy from a
stereotyped homily book and what we speak from the heart and our life
The Word of God and the homily are meant not only to illumine our
hearts and minds, but also to prepare us to celebrate the most important
part of Holy Mass: the Liturgy of the Eucharist and Holy Communion.
'Way of union'
If the second part
the way of illumination or Liturgy of the Word
concludes with the Creed (on Sundays and solemnities) and the prayer of
the faithful, the third part concludes, practically speaking, with Holy
This part can be called the "way of union".
Just as in our spiritual life we have to pass through the ways of
and illumination to arrive at the way of spousal and mystical union, so
also in every celebration of the Eucharist these three ways are not only
remembered but renewed and relived.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta writes: "These desires to satiate
the longings of Our Lord for souls of the poor
for pure victims of his love
goes on increasing with every Mass and Holy Communion" (MFG, p.
For this reason back in 1946-47 when she was writing the very first
Constitutions for the future Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity
which she was asked by Jesus, her Crucified Spouse, to found, she
writes: 'The Sisters should use every means to learn and increase that
tender love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament" (R. 34; MFG, p.
Bl. Teresa not only renewed daily her "call within a call" to give
wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor at every
Eucharistic celebration, but also drew her strength from its daily
reception. She writes: "One thing I request of you, Your Grace, is to
give us all the spiritual help we need. If we have our Lord in the midst
of us, with daily Mass and Holy Communion, I fear nothing for the
Sisters nor myself; he will look after us. But without him I cannot be
am helpless" (MFG, p. 26).
She even wanted the Sisters to do the work of priests. In her
original Rule Book she writes: "As each Sister is to do the work of a
go where he cannot go and do what he cannot do, she must imbibe the
Spirit of Holy Mass, which is one of total surrender and offering. For
this reason, Holy Mass must become the daily meeting place, where God
and his creature offer each other for each other and the world" (MFG,
p. 31; R. 33).
Here we see Bl. Teresa's deeper understanding of the reality of the
Eucharist and her mystical union. It was this unbroken spousal union
that gave her all the energy, strength, vitality and enthusiasm to go on
doing what she did.
The life she lived was no longer her life, but it was Jesus who lived
in her and worked through her. She was able to do all things in Jesus,
for Jesus and with Jesus, who strengthened her through daily reception
of the Eucharist.
What did Bl. Teresa hear?
In her first letter to the Archbishop of Calcutta, Ferdinand Perier,
S.J., written on 13 January 1947, she wrote: "One day at Holy Communion
I heard the same voice very distinctly" (MFG, p. 10).
What did Bl. Teresa hear from the Eucharistic Jesus?
1. The kind of nuns she should have and the qualities they should
I want Indian nuns, victims of My love, who would be Mary and Martha,
who would be so united to Me as to radiate My love on souls.
I want free nuns, covered with the poverty of the Cross.
I want obedient nuns, covered with the obedience of the Cross.
I want full-of-love nuns, covered with the Charity of the Cross.
2. She heard the kind of people she and her nuns should take care of:
There are plenty of nuns to look after the rich and well-to-do ' people
but for My very poor people, there are absolutely none. For them I long,
them I love. Wilt thou refuse?
3. The name of the Congregation Jesus wanted her to found:
I want Indian Missionaries Sisters of Charity who would be My fire of
love amongst the very poor, the sick, the dying, the little street
4. She heard very distinctly that she and her nuns should bring the
poor to him:
The poor I want you to bring to Me.
The Sisters who offer their lives as victims of My love should bring
these souls to Me.
5. The Eucharistic Jesus told her that:
You are, I know, the most incapable person, weak and sinful, but just
because you are that, I want to use you for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?
6. Jesus told her the kind of habit she should wear:
You will dress in simple Indian clothes or rather, like My Mother,
dressed, simple and poor,... your sarie will become holy because it is
7. Jesus told her very clearly what exactly was her vocation:
Your vocation is to love and suffer and save souls.
8. He told her that she is his little spouse and that she would
suffer very much:
You are My own little spouse, the spouse of the Crucified Jesus; you
will have to suffer these torments in your heart.
It was her Eucharistic Spouse who promised that he would never leave
her, provided she trusted him lovingly and blindly, obeyed him
cheerfully, promptly and without any questions (cf. MFG, p. 18).
In the account of the second vision, Our Lady told Bl. Teresa to take
care of her poor people and carry Jesus to them. Her exact words were:
Take care of them, they are mine; bring them to Jesus, carry Jesus to
them (MFG, p. 19).
Here Our Lady apparently wanted Bl. Teresa to continue to do what she
did immediately after the Annunciation.
At the Annunciation Mary received Jesus first in her heart and then
in her womb, and then with Jesus she went in haste to give him to her
cousin Elizabeth and others. "The Annunciation was Our Lady's first Holy
Communion day", Bl. Teresa said.
Just as Mary received Jesus at the Annunciation and then went in
haste to give him to others, so too all Missionaries of Charity Sisters
and Brothers receive Jesus in Holy Communion and go in haste to give to
the poor. Our Lady told Bl. Teresa to bring the poor to Jesus and carry
Jesus to them. She also promised her unfailing help: Fear not, Jesus
and I will be with you and your children.
Christ in the poor
Hence, we see the inseparable twofold presence of Jesus, in the Bread
of Life and in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.
Jesus told Bl. Mother Teresa: Carry Me with you into them, for I cannot
go alone. They don't know Me, so they don't want Me; you go amongst them
(MFG, p. 18).
Jesus wants Bl. Teresa, the Sisters and the Brothers to go among the
poor not as social workers, politicians or even masters; but as unworthy
servants asked to carry Jesus with us into the people's homes and holes.
Jesus wants us to visit the people, but he cannot go alone. He is
helpless to do his work without us; we are helpless to do his work
without him. "Apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5). "I can do all
things in him who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13). There is a reciprocal
helplessness and a mutual strength.
In a sense, Jesus depends on us to save souls, and we depend totally
on Jesus for our life and work, as electricity and bulb. Through the
bulb the electricity becomes luminous and useful.
Our Bl. Teresa goes further and deeper with her Eucharistic Jesus. In
her own words: "Just as Jesus allows himself to be broken, to be given
to us as food, we too must break, we must share with each other, with
our own people first, in our house, in our communities, for love begins
"Every Holy Communion fills us with Jesus and we must, with Our Lady,
go in haste to give him to others. For her, it was on her first Holy
Communion day that Jesus came into her life, and so for all of us also.
He made himself the Bread of Life so that we, too, like Mary, become
full of Jesus. We too, like her, be in haste to give him to others. We
too, like her, serve others" (Talk to the Brothers and Co-workers,
Los Angeles, U.S.A., 1 July 1977).
According to Bl. Mother Teresa, Jesus in the Eucharist keeps us
zealous, fervent and enthusiastic. Love for the Eucharist helps us to
love the poor, for she says: "Try to be Jesus' love, Jesus' compassion,
Jesus' presence to each other and the poor you serve. Humility always is
the root of zeal for souls and charity. We see that in Jesus on the
Cross and in the Eucharist" (Letter, June 1990).
The Eucharistic Jesus little by little took possession of our Mother
Teresa, transforming her whole being so utterly into him so that she
could become Jesus for all. People looked up and no longer saw her, only
Like a piece of iron stuck to a magnet, she became one with her
beloved Spouse, whom Jesus himself addressed as his little spouse: "You
are my own little spouse, the spouse of the Crucified Jesus" (MFG,
'To be really only his'
In Bl. Teresa there was the insatiable spousal longing, which became
identical with the thirst of Jesus on the Cross for love of souls. From
now on, she was going to pray, suffer and work day and night for Jesus,
because her beloved Spouse was everything for her: "Jesus, my own Jesus,
I am only thine... I love you not for what you give, but what you take,
Jesus" (MFG, p. 17).
She continues in writing to the Archbishop of Calcutta: "I long to be
really only his, to burn myself completely for him and souls. I want him
to be loved tenderly by many... I have already given my all to him" (MFG,
The Eucharist and the poor are inseparable. This is not anything new
for the Church, for we can clearly see it in the Gospels. The One who
said, "This is my body" is the same one who said, "I was hungry and you
gave me to eat..." (cf. Mt 26:26; 25:35).
Some of the Fathers of the Church, such as St. Ambrose and St. John
Chrysostom, were very clear and emphatic in their pronouncements.
St. John Chrysostom, for example, said: "Do you wish to honour the
body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him
homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside
where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: 'This is my body' is the
same who said: 'You saw me hungry and you gave me no food', and
'whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me...'.
What good is it if the Eucharistic table is over loaded with golden
chalices when your brother is dying of hunger. Start by satisfying his
hunger and then with what is left you may adorn. the altar as well".
In conclusion, we can say that it is a great need for each and every
person to rediscover the importance and the necessity of the Eucharist
in his or her life, the Eucharist which necessarily urges everyone to go
in search of the poor.
The Holy Father, John Paul II, writes to the youth of the world on
the occasion of the XIX World Youth Day 2004: "Dear friends, if you
learn to discover Jesus in the Eucharist, you will also know how to
discover him in your brothers and sisters, particularly in the very
It is with such inner freedom and such burning charity that Jesus
teaches us to find him in others, first of all in the disfigured faces
of the poor.
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta loved to distribute her "visiting card" on
which were written the words: "The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit
of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is
service; the fruit of service is peace. This is the way to meet
Let us go out and meet him in the poor, making our love all the more
fruitful in service. Let this be our unquenchable thirst, constant
effort and fervent prayer.