Asking For a Double-Portion of Mother Teresa’s Spirit, P3 Night of Recollection Meditation, September 1, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
P3 Meditation
St. Agnes Church, Manhattan
September 1, 2016

 

To listen to an audio recording of this meditation, please click below: 

 

The following points provided the outline for tonight’s talk: 

  • Story of Elijah and Elisha
    • 2Kings 2:1 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal “Stay here, please,” Elijah said to Elisha. “The LORD has sent me on to Bethel.” “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,” Elisha replied, “I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel, where the guild prophets went out to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD will take your master from over you today?” “Yes, I know it,” he replied. “Keep still.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, please, Elisha, for the LORD has sent me on to Jericho.” “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,” Elisha replied, “I will not leave you.” They went on to Jericho, where the guild prophets approached Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD will take your master from over you today?” “Yes, I know it,” he replied. “Keep still.” Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here; the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.” “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,” Elisha replied, “I will not leave you.” And so the two went on together. Fifty of the guild prophets followed, and when the two stopped at the Jordan, stood facing them at a distance. Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, which divided, and both crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” “You have asked something that is not easy,” he replied. “Still, if you see me taken up from you, your wish will be granted; otherwise not.” As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. When Elisha saw it happen he cried out, “My father! my father! Israel’s chariots and drivers!” But when he could no longer see him, Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two. Then he picked up Elijah’s mantle which had fallen from him, and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan. Wielding the mantle which had fallen from Elijah, he struck the water in his turn and said, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over. The guild prophets in Jericho, who were on the other side, saw him and said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.”
    • The Catholic world is now focused on this Sunday’s canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. How should we be approaching it? It’s not just a celebration of her life. The Church doesn’t canonize for the person canonized, but for us, and it does so not so that we can know that the person lived a holy life, but so that we can imitate what is imitable. And so as we approach this day, we should do so asking whether we might receive a double-portion of her spirit.
    • What was her spirit? What was her secret?
      • Some might say love for the poor; others seeking to quench Jesus’ infinite thirst for souls; others seeing Christ in the distressing disguise of the everyone who is needy.
      • These are all good guesses and clearly part of her spirituality.
    • But if you really want to know what defines her spirit, the spirit she sought to pass on in double- and triple-portion to the Missionaries of Charity, she defined it in the Statutes for the Missionaries of Charity. “The spirit of the Society is one of loving trust, total surrender and cheerfulness as lived by Jesus and Mary in the Gospel.”
    • That’s the spirit with which Agnes Bojaxhiu sought to live. That’s what she tried to form others to live. And she was serious about passing on this spirit. Every year the MCs make a retreat for three days prior to renewing their profession on August 22, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Old Calendar, a feast that’s been retained on that day by special indult among the MCs. And during that Triduum the priest preaches about this spirit, to renew them in the characteristics.
    • If we wish to understand Mother Teresa profoundly and hope to imitate her, it would be good for us to focus on these three points together tonight.
  • Loving Trust
    • Jesus’s trust
      • Oneness and identification with Jesus in loving trust.
      • An alter Christus in trust.
      • Jesus trusted his Father with an unshakeable trust.
      • “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”
      • (MT) To go through His passion and death on a cross — Christ accepted to die because He trusted His Father. He knew that from that apparent failure, God would work out His plan of salvation. For us, too, we must have that deep faith and trust that if we are doing God’s will, He will work out His plan of salvation in us and through us in spite of any failure we may meet. “To continue His work through weak and ignorant apostles…” Christ is still doing that by using us.
      • His trust was the fruit of His intimate knowledge and love of the Father.
      • He trusted His Father so completely that He entrusted His whole life and the mission for which He was sent into the hands of the Father.
      • He was fully confident that the Father would work out His plan of salvation in spite of the ineffectual means used and the apparent failure.
    • Mary’s trust
      • Mary showed her complete trust in God by accepting to be used for His plan of salvation in spite of her nothingness.
      • Mary knew that He who is mighty can do great things in her and through her.
      • Mary’s trust filled “yes” MCs are called to echo.
    • Loving Trust in God implies trust in:
      • God’s omnipotence, His infinite wisdom and His unfailing love.
      • The reality of Jesus, Son of God made man, and in the trust of His teaching in the Gospel.
      • The power of the Holy Spirit to transform us into Jesus in total forgetfulness of self;
      • This trust is meant to banish our fear: God’s tenderest concern for us and His fidelity to His promises in the Gospel, hence full trust in His Divine Providence for all our necessites and those of the poor.
      • This trust in his providence extends also to our care for others:
        • (MT) God will never, never, never let us down if we have faith and trust in Him. One week, on the Friday and Saturday, for the very first time we had no rice to give to the people. The sisters feed, I believe, four thousand people each day and these people are the ones who simply won’t eat unless the sisters feed them — but we had nothing. Then, about nine on Friday morning, one, two truckloads full of bread — more than they had ever seen in their lives — were given to the sisters. So you see, God is thoughtful. He will never let us down if we trust Him… He will always look after us. So we must cleave to Jesus. Our whole life must simply be woven with Jesus.
      • The power of the name of Jesus, the power of Mary, the Mother of God, the intercessory power of St. Joseph and all the Saints and angels.
      • The Church and her teaching;
        • The gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
        • God cannot deceive us by this teaching. We can trust in God.
        • Our superiors who take the place of Christ;
        • Our trust is not even so much in them, but in God’s working through them.
        • Our sisters and the poor, accepting each one as they are and trying to love each one as God loves.
        • God has made them good.
        • We need to affirm their goodness, their trustworthiness, their dignity.
      • Total Surrender
        • (MT) Total Surrender means:
          • to be at God’s disposal,
          • to be used as it pleases Him,
          • to belong to HIm.
        • Christ’s total surrender
          • Oneness and identification with Jesus in total surrender.
          • Christ was entirely at the disposal of His Father for the ransom of many.
          • ”Though he was God, he did not count equality with God something to be grasped at, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-8)
        • Mary’s total surrender
          • ”Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
          • Mary was completely empty of self, so God filled her with grace so that she was full of God.
          • Mary allowed God to use her according to His wish, with full trust and joy, belonging to Him without reserve.
          • (MT) Being the handmaid of the Lord, Mary was completely empty of self and God filled her with grace — full of grace — full of God. Handmaid is to be at one’s disposal — to be used according to someone’s wish — with full trust and joy — to belong to someone without reserve — and this is one main reason of the Spirit of the Society.
          • Following Mary
            • To her the Society belongs.
            • Our mission is but an extension of hers, and for this reason God called the Society into being through her.
            • Her Immaculate Heart — the title under which we honor her as Patronness of the Society — represents that which we most with to imitate: her undivided love, her total and wholehearted response to the love of God.
            • Mary was the “first Missionary of Charity” (MT), the first carrier of Jesus to the thirsting world, and the first to have heard His cry of thirst.
            • She is the perfect model and companion for our own response to the Lord, and to the call He has given us through her.
            • Her heart and her life are the mirror of the MC Spirit:
            • In her trust-filled “yes” of which ours is an echo.
            • In her constant surrender to the Father’s will.
            • In her joy in belonging to Jesus and in bringing Him to Elizabeth.
          • Our total surrender means:
            • We are entirely at the disposal of the Father as Jesus and Mary were.
            • An “alter Christus” in total surrender.
              • (MT) Total Surrender consists in giving ourselves completely to God. Why must we give ourselves fully to God? Because God has given Himself to us. If God, who owes nothing to us, is ready to impart to us no less than Himself, shall we answer with just a fraction of ourselves? To give ourselves fully to God is a means of receiving God Himself; I for God and God for me. I live for God and give up my own self and in this way induce God to live for me. Therefore, to possess God we must allow Him to possess our soul. How poor we would be if God had not given us the power of giving ourselves to Him. How rich we are now. How easy it is to conquer God! We give ourselves to God; then God is ours and there can be nothing more ours than God. The money with which God repays our surrender is Himself. We become worthy of possessing Him when we abandon ourselves completely to Him. (To surrender means possessing Him when we abandon ourselves completely to Him.
              • (MT) To surrender means to offer God my free will and my reason, my own light in pure faith. My soul may be in darkness, but I know that darkness, trials, and suffering are the surest test of my blind surrender. Surrender is also true love. The more we surrender, the more we love God and souls.… There is no limit to the love that prompts us to give. To give ourselves to God is to be His victim, the victim of His unwanted love; i.e., of the love of God which has not been accepted by men. The spirit of our Society is one of complete surrender. We cannot be pleased with the common. What is good for others is not sufficient for us. We have to satiate the thirst of an infinite God, dying of love. Only total surrender can satisfy the burning desire of a true Missionary of Charity.
            • We need to love the Lord “with all our strength” (Dt 6:5).
              • (MT) Believe in Him — trust in Him with blind and absolute confidence because He is Jesus. Believe that Jesus and Jesus alone is life — and sanctity is nothing but that same Jesus intimately living in you. Only then, “His hand will be free with you.” Give yourself unswervingly, conforming yourself in all things to His holy will which is made known to you through your superior. Love Jesus with a big heart, serve Jesus with joy and gladness of spirit, casting aside and forgetting all that troubles and worries you.
            • Oneness and identification with Jesus implies belonging only and totally to Him.
            • It means to do “all for Jesus and only for Him”; doing everything “for Him, with Him, and to Him” (MT).
            • It means allowing Him complete freedom in doing with us as He wills, that he may use us “without consulting us” for His glory and the good of the poor.
              • (MT) One day St. Margaret Mary asked Jesus, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Give me a free hand,” Jesus answered. He will perform the divine work or sanctity, not you; and He asks only for your docility. Let Him empty and amend you, and afterward fill the chalice of your hearts to the brim, that you in your turn may give of your abundance.
            • Emptying oneself so that God can fill it. It means to live in the fullest solidarity with the thirsting Jesus, identifying ourselves with Him, allowing Him to live out in our own lives His poverty, His humility, His loving submission to the Father, His compassion, His cross, His special love for His priests, and His predilection for the last, the least and the lost.
              • (MT) Love Him generously. Love Him trustfully without looking back, without fear. Give yourself fully to Jesus. He will use you to accomplish great things on teh condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness; believe in Him, trust in Him with blind and absolute confidence because He is Jesus. Believe that Jesus and Jesus alone is life — and sanctity is nothing but that same Jesus intimately living in you — only then “His hand will be free with you.”
            • Complete surrender to Jesus even in the work of sanctification:
              • (MT) One thing Jesus asks of me: that I lean upon Him; that in Him and in Him alone I put complete trust; that I surrender myself to Him unreservedly. I need to give up my own desires in the work of my perfection. Even when all goes wrong and I feel as if I were a ship without a compass, I must give myself completely to Him. I must not attempt to control God’s action; I must not count the stages in the journey He would have me make. I must not desire a clear perception of my advance upon the road, not know precisely where I am upon the way of holiness. I asked Him to make a saint of me, yet I must leave to Him the choice of the saintliness itself and still more the means that lead to it.
            • It means a complete letting go:
              • (MT) Maybe Jesus is asking you something in a special way — maybe something small. Even during a retreat…, Jesus can pass you by. If He is not asking you it might be because you are holding something very tight — He will never force it out of you. Maybe he wants you just to smile, to say, “May I?”, to be on time, or to give up an unhealthy friendship. We have given up the most beautiful and natural love of father and mother and we did that to be completely His. I always think — I don’t need God to judge me. The person who will judge me is my mother, for I have given her great sorrow to follow Jesus. [We’re called to share the Passion of Christ in our lives], but do we really allow Jesus to do so?
            • In giving ourselves completely to God, because God has given himself to us, we are entirely at His disposal:
              • to be possessed by Him so that we may possess Him;
              • to take whatever he gives and to give whatever he takes with a big smile;
              • to be used by Him as it pleases Him without being consulted;
              • to offer Him our free will, our reason, our whole life in pure faith, so that He may think His thoughts in our minds, do His work through our hands, and love with our hearts.
            • Total surrender involves a wholeheartedness:
              • to respond totally and radically “without counting the cost” (MT)
              • to fill the present moment, even our smallest actions, with all the self-giving of which we are capable;
              • to spend the totality of our energy and love, “even until it hurts” (MT) and beyond;
              • to love only for His sake, as pure gift in return, neither asking nor expecting reward.
            • Our total surrender consists also in being totally available to God and His Church through our availability to our Superiors, our sisters and the people we serve.
              • (MT) We have every reason to be the happiest people in the world. To be the happiest we have to belong to Jesus fully without any reservations as He alone is worthy of our love and total surrender. If we really belong fully to Him, then we must be at His disposal — that He may be free to use us and do with us whatever and whenever He would, through our superiors, whoever they may be. They are the instruments of His will. They may be people we like or dislike, they may be clever and highly gifted, or they may not be so, they may be of any nationality, they may be holy or not so holy — it makes no difference to us. The only thing that matters is our conviction that they are the instruments of God’s will for us and that we are infallible in obeying them — through cheerful, constant, and prompt obedience, we relive Christ’s obedience.
              • In this way, we will be be all powerful with Him who strengthens us.
            • Cheerfulness
              • An MC must be an MC of Joy. By this sign the world will know you are MCs” (Mother Teresa).
              • (MT) In our Society, a cheerful disposition is one of the main virtues required to be a Missionary of Charity.
              • Christ’s joy
                • Oneness and identification with Jesus in joy.
                • An alter Christus in joy.
                • Christ wanted to share His joy with his apostles: “That my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11)
              • Mary’s joy
                • Joy was the strength of Our Lady.
                • Only joy could have given her the strength to go in haste over the hills of Judea to do the work of a handmaid for her cousin.
                  • (MT) In Bethlehem, JOY filled everyone: the shepherds, the angels, the Kings, Joseph, Mary, etc. Joy was the characteristic mark of the first Christmas.
                • When we follow Mary in her hasty departure from Nazareth to Ain Karim, we see another one of the fonts of joy. After Elizabeth greeted her as the mother of her Lord, Mary erupted in her hymn of joy: “My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” My Spirit rejoices in God, she said. Why? “For he was looked with kindness on his lowly servant, … the mighty One has done great things for me.” We find there two things, God’s kindness and Mary’s humble gratitude. This humble gratitude is a major source of joy.
              • Characteristics of joy for an MC
              • Where does joy come from? (Dolan)
                • God the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22)
                • Conviction that God loves us as a Father
                • God’s indwelling through the gift of sanctifying grace
                • Hope in Divine Providence
                • Prayer
                • Communion of Saints
              • MC Constitutions
                • (MT) Joy is not simply a matter of temperament. In the service of God and souls it is always hard. All the more reason why we should try to acquire it and make it grow in our hearts. Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love, joy is a net of love by which we catch souls.
                • Joy is prayer
                  • Joy is the sign of our generosity, selflessness and close and continual union with God.
                  • (MT) By this joy, I do not mean boisterous laughter and screaming; no, that is deceitful, it can be there to hide something. By this joy I mean that inner depthy of joy in you, in your eyes, look, facial movements, actions, swiftness, etc. “That my joy may be in you,” says Jesus. What is the joy of Jesus? It is the result of His continual union with God, doing the Will of the Father. “I have come that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” This is the fruit of union with God, of being in the presence of God. Living in the presence of God fills us with joy. God is Joy. To bring joy to us, Jesus became man.
                • Joy is love
                  • A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.
                  • The one who gives with joy gives most.
                  • God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).
                  • (MT) God loves a cheerful giver. He gives most who gives with joy. If in the work you have difficulties and you accept them with joy, with a big smile — in this, like in any other thing — they will see your good works and glorify the Father. The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.
                  • (MT) We have every reason to be the happiest people in the world. To be the happiest we have to belong to Jesus fully without any reservations as He alone is worthy of our love and total surrender.
                • Love involves self-sacrifice and suffering:
                  • (MT) Cheerfulness should be one of the main points of our religious life. A cheerful giver is a great giver. A cheerful giver-religious is like sunshine in the community. Cheerfulness is a sign of a generous and mortified person who, forgetting all things, even himself, tries to please his God in all he does for souls. Cheerfulness is often a cloak which hides a life of sacrifice, continual union with God, fervor, and generosity. A person who has this gift of cheerfulness very often reaches a great height of perfection. For God loves a cheerful giver and He takes close to His heart the religious he loves.
                  • (MT) Remember that the Passion of Christ ends always in the joy of the Resurrection of Christ. So when you feel in your own heart the sufferings of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ Risen.
                  • (MT) When suffering comes into our lives, we should accept it with a smile. This is the greatest gift from God: to have the courage to accept everything he gives us and asks of us with a smile.
                • Joy is evangelization
                  • Joy is a net of love by which we can catch souls.
                  • A sister filled with joy preaches without preaching.
                  • (MT) Joy is one of the most essential things in our Society. An MC must be an MC of joy. She must radiate that joy to everyone. By this sign the world will know you are MCs. Everyone in the world sees you and remarks and speaks out about the MCs not because of what they do but because they are happy to do the work they do and live the life they live.
                  • (MT) I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.
                • The martyr’s joy was a great evangelizer:
                  • (MT) During the persecution, people used to watch those who had this joy radiating on their faces. By that joy they knew who the Christians were and thus they persecuted the Christians. St. Paul, whom we are trying to imitate in our zeal, was an apostle of joy. He always urged the early Christians to rejoice in the Lord always. His whole life can be summed up in one sentence: “I belong to Christ. Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ, neither sufferings nor persecutions, nor anything. I live now no longer I, but it is Christ who lives in me.” That is why he was so full of joy.”
                • Joy is a physical generator
                  • Joy makes us always ready to go about doing good.
                  • The joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10)
                  • (MT) Cheerfulness and joy were Our Lady’s strength. This made her a willing handmaid of God, her Son. For as soon as He came to her she went in haste. Only joy could have given her the strength to go in haste over the hills of Judea — to do the work of a handmaid to her cousin.
                  • (MT) Joy is a need and power for us, even physically. One who has cultivated a spirit of joy feels less tired and is always ready to go on doing good.
                • Practical consequences of being cheerful with regard to the vows. Commitment to:
                  • To live the life of poverty in cheerful trust.
                  • To imitate the chastity, the cause of our joy;
                  • To offer cheerful obedience from inward joy;
                  • To minister to Christ in His distressing disguise with cheerful devotion.
                  • A joyful sister is like the sunshine of God’s love, the hope of eternal happiness, the flame of burning love.
                  • (MT) It is very strange that the four vows demand so much cheerfulness. In our case, this cheerfulness is very necessary, for without it we shall seldom have the courage to grasp the real meaning of Total Surrender. Since we do it, why not do it with a happy heart.
                • This ministry of joy starts at home:
                  • (MT) I want you to make a resolution to be cheerful. What is a cheerful MC? The sunshine of God’s love, the hope of eternal life. Are you the sunshine in your community? One day something is wrong with you and everything goes upside down. Some of you make a resolution to be miserable. Don’t allow your community to become miserable — without joy. Make one resolution, to be the cause of joy in your community. The community must look up and see Jesus in you.
                  • (MT) Sometimes it is harder for us to smile at those who live with us, the immediate members of our families, that it is to smile at those who are not so close to us. Let us never forget: love begins at home.
                • Opposite of joy: sadness & moodiness
                  • (MT) Joy is one of the best safeguards against temptations. The devil is a carrier of dust and dirt — he uses every chance to thorw what he has at us. A joyful heart knows how to protect himself from such dirt — Jesus can take full possession of our soul only if it surrenders itself joyfully. “A saint who is sad is a sad saint,” St. Francis de Sales used to say. St. Teresa was worried about her sisters only when she saw any of them lose their joy.
                  • (MT) Sadness is like gangrene that eats up the very bone. Sad religious are the greatest stumbling block to vocations because young people, like God, love a cheerful giver.
                  • (MT) Moodiness — be really frightened of it, as if you are frightened of the devil. This is deliberately giving in to sin.
                  • (MT) This moodiness, heaviness, sadness, is a very easy way to tepidity — the mother of all evil. If you want to break poverty, chastity, obedience, be tepid. If you are cheerful, have no fear of tepidity. Joy shines in the eyes, comes out in the speech and walk. You can’t keep it in for it bubbles out. When people see the habitual happiness in your eyes, it will make them realize they are the beloved children of God.
                  • (MT) Joy is a characteristic sign of a Christian and particularly of an MC. An MC who has not this joy is not worthy of his name. Our poor people suffer much, and unless we go with joy we cannot help them. We will make them more miserable. If you are moody then you are sick, maybe physically, but then you should not go out because you do not give Christ.
                • Things that can sap and threaten our joy (Dolan)
                  • Self-pity
                  • Worry
                  • Placing our happiness in something other than God.
                  • Complaining
                • Conclusion
                  • Great to ask for this type of spirit as we approach her canonization. A far greater miracle than the two worked through her intercession approaching beatification and canonization.
                  • Holy See’s Event on Sept 9 at 3 pm at the UN. HolySeeMission.org
                  • Eucharistic love of Mother Teresa. 3 hours a day. This was what permitted her to find Christ in distressing disguise. This is what strengthened her to trust with love, to surrender without holding anything back, and to be joyful about it. It’s what will strengthen us too.

 

Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, paving the way for her canonization in 2016. Mother Teresa is pictured holding a rosary while speaking in this undated photo. (CNS) See MOTHER-TERESA-SAINTHOOD-CAUSES Dec. 18, 2015.