Sept. 5, 2021 – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Eucharist
When I was in college, I started to learn a lot about a lady called “Mother Teresa of Calcutta.” The more I learned, the more my fascination for her grew. Here was a woman that was not just a Saint in a dusty history book, but one who lived today in our modern times; a woman who had been personally known by people living. She gave her life in a radical to living with and caring for the poorest of the poor. As I read more of her writings, I not only discovered inspiration in her life and works but in her words as well. She had such a gift of saying very profound things in very simple ways. And her deep love for the poor and her wisdom (and even wit), was fueled by a life of deep prayer. This led me to dig deeper into her prayer life.
As I studied more deeply her prayer life, I discovered that Mother Teresa’s prayer was especially nourished by the Blessed Sacrament, that is, the Eucharist. Not only in daily Mass but hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, in Eucharistic Adoration. (At the time, I still had not yet come to believe that Jesus was really present in the Eucharist.)
But if this woman, far more attuned to the presence of God than I was, if she believed that Jesus was really, truly, fully present in the Eucharist, then perhaps this teaching of the Church was not as absurd as I thought. I began to discover that for Mother Teresa, the Eucharist was the primary place of intimate encounter with Jesus Christ. Since I myself was passionate about social justice and serving the poor, I thought I better pay attention to the wisdom of Mother Teresa!
I began to pray more intentionally at Mass, and pay more attention, reflecting on what this might mean if the Eucharist is more than a symbol. I began to spend time each week in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament…
…and I started discovering and developing a life of deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ.
It was not long after this process that I not only began to believe in Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist, but I also began to get this nagging thought in prayer, that Jesus was asking me to give my whole life to Him in a radical way.
…and, well, you more or less know the rest of the story! (I’m your priest now!)
Saint Mother Teresa’s Feast Day is September 5th.
I want to share with you a prayer that Mother Teresa would pray after she received communion (which I, too now personally pray every time after I receive communion):
“Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me
That every soul I come in contact with
May feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others”
PS: On Friday, Sept 10, and Saturday, September 11, I have been asked to lead a short retreat for our college seminarians in Dubuque. Please pray for me and for our college seminarians!