Victims of Jesus’ Love

The following reflections are an attempt to make an in-depth study of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s two most important letters to the then Archbishop of Kolkata, His Excellency F. Perier SJ. These are the only two letters that directly concern Mother’s inspiration. The first one she wrote on 13th January 1947 and the second most important one she wrote to the same Archbishop on the feast of St. Francis Xavier on 3rd December 1947.

What we find in these two letters, which she calls “strange thoughts and desires” inspired by Jesus’ communications to her, began on 10th September 1946 and continued throughout 1947, as we can see from the date of her second letter.

When Jesus called St. Teresa of Calcutta from the Loreto convent, one of the first things He told her was the kind of members He wanted and the qualities they should possess. Jesus knew that the strength, vitality, growth and fruitfulness of any group depended so much on its members, how convinced they are and how they are being formed. Jesus therefore dictated to our foundress about the members He wanted, for He said to her:

“I want (Indian nuns) victims of My love, who would be Mary and Martha, who would be so very united to Me as to radiate My love on souls”. In this one sentence we can see the sum-total of our M.C. vocation. First of all Jesus wants victims of his love: “I want victims of My love”. Here we have to go deeper and deeper and see what He means by “victims of His love”.

Victims of Jesus’ love. 

It can mean that Jesus can use us as He wants, when and where He wants, through our Superiors, without consulting us. As a rule, any sacrificial victim is destroyed and consumed. But here in this case, the members of the Missionaries of Charity are meant to be purified more than destroyed. In other words, what is being destroyed in us is our self-will; what is being destroyed in us is our human love, our human inclinations, inordinate desires and attachments, such as the seven capital sins of pride, envy, gluttony, sloth, avarice, lust, and wrath; all the various passions—the passion for popularity, the desire for power and prestige, the various unhealthy hunger and thirst that can come on our spiritual path and try to destroy us. Either we become a victim of our own passions, likes and dislikes, our own fears and disappointments, or become a victim of Jesus’ love. His gentle love will slowly wipe out the evil from us, enabling us to possess His love, so that we can radiate his love on souls.

Jesus wants us to be like Mary and Martha; He wants us to be so very united to Him, to radiate His love on souls (Mother’s Founding Grace p. 22-24). In our apostolate, whether at home, in the community or with outsiders, with our Brothers or the poor, we can radiate our “human love” or “Jesus’ love” on souls, on all those whom we meet or live with.

Jesus knows that if our relationship is based purely on human love, it is not going to last; nor does He simply want a mixture of both. This does not mean that we cannot use the gifts God has given us. On the contrary, we must recognize His gifts and thank God for them and use them for His glory. It is His love that we have to radiate on souls. We can do this through prayer, penance and works of mercy.

Jesus’ cross is the basis, the structure and the standard of our M.C. life, work and vows, as Jesus very clearly demands from St. Teresa of Calcutta:

“I want free nuns (Brothers) covered with my poverty of the Cross. I want obedient nuns (Brothers) covered with my obedience of the Cross. I want full of love nuns (Brothers) covered with the Charity of the Cross” (MFG p. 10).

Years later, when the journalists and others interviewed her about the beginning of “her call within a call,” she would say that it was an order. This was not very clear to the readers then, but now, in light of the discovery of “Mother’s Founding Grace” document, we can understand her answer. Jesus was very clear and categorical when He repeated again and again: “I want…”. In the same locution He says four times: “I want”.

This clarity was very vital for St. Teresa of Calcutta in accepting, choosing and above all in forming candidates. In fact, she, with the help of Jesus and His Virgin Mother, instilled in the hearts and minds of the candidates the very demand of Jesus without letting them see or read this all important and precious document, known today as “Mother’s Founding Grace,” which should be the “Magna Carta” for the M.C. Family. In it we can see the essence and substance of the M.C. Charism, Spirit, aim and way of life.

The clarity and conviction St. Mother Teresa M.C. possessed in spite of “her dark night, dryness and desert” were due to the fact that Jesus practically dictated and spelled out for her whatever was essential. He did not ask of her something of a temporary foundation. It was not only meant to last for her life time or meant to be confined to the paradoxical city of Kolkata. No, it was and it is meant to go on and go out. It indeed went out to all the world, an incredible phenomenon, even during her own life time. If it were not Jesus who worked with her, and people were not able to see Jesus in her and in the Sisters of the Society she founded, instead of growing and diffusing, it would have died and disappeared long ago.

She was able to transform the candidates who came into “victims of Jesus’ love”, who would be like Mary and Martha, who would be formed to be so very united to Jesus that they all, as far as they were able to, radiate Jesus’ love on souls. It can be said that St. Teresa of Calcutta , the little Spouse of Jesus Crucified, was able to lay the foundation of the Missionaries of Charity on solid rock. As years went by, “the rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock” (cf. Mt 7: 24-27). Who or what is your first and best love? In the priority list, who is at the top? Myself, my will or Jesus? Or anyone or anything?

Her vocation was to be the Spouse of Jesus. From this spousal union with Jesus, she will save souls. It is clear from the question Jesus asked her:

“Are you afraid to take one more step for your Spouse—for me—for souls?”.

Jesus wanted St. Teresa of Calcutta to found the Missionaries of Charity mainly to save souls, souls for whom he died on the Cross… and His beloved mother was drowned in sorrow. Jesus almost scolded St. Teresa M.C. when he said: “You did not die for souls—that is why you don’t care what happens to them”.

Another interesting and most important point Jesus made is about his beloved Mother. Here we can see clearly the role Our Lady played in the work of salvation. Can we not say that Jesus considered His Mother as co-redemptrix when He says:

“Your heart was never drowned in sorrow as My Mother’s”?

More interesting still is the next statement Jesus made, namely, “We both gave our all for souls” (Mother’s Founding Grace p. 10). So as they both offered their all to save souls, St. Teresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity should do the same. This was further explained in her locutions when we see Jesus telling her so clearly and so succinctly what her vocation consisted in. He said it in very simple but clear terms. Her vocation, and for all the members of the Missionaries of Charity, Contemplative or Active, consists in love, suffering and saving souls. In Jesus’ own words:

“Your vocation is to love and suffer and save souls”.

His short definition of her vocation would eventually be spelled out and unfolded both in her locutions and thereafter in her life and mission. Jesus Himself would go into detail and explain to her through words and through visions, which He finally clarified and confirmed her “call within a call” and her subsequent mission.

In the simple definition of her vocation we have three important verbs: love, suffer, save. It may be helpful for us to go a little deeper on the choice of these three verbs, which contain the entire work and mission of St. Teresa of Calcutta. First of all, the word “love”. In this context this word “love” should be seen as a driving force, “suffering” as means, and “save” souls as the goal. Jesus knew very well that if there is no love behind suffering, it will not be welcomed and will not be sought for, but will be avoided.

It is the force of love for Jesus that will give all the courage, strength and vitality to go through the absolutely necessary means of suffering, pain and the Cross to save and redeem souls. Without this invincible love, this Christian agape, the Cross and suffering will be stumbling blocks and folly; but when there is love it becomes no longer a stumbling block or folly, but the power and wisdom of God to save and redeem the world of souls (1 Cor 1: 22-24).

This is the reason Jesus spoke to St. Teresa M.C. as His Spouse. This love is spousal, and in any spousal love there is suffering and death. And in real spousal love, one never counts the sacrifices, hardships and suffering one has to go through for a common goal.

In this mystical union the common goal is the salvation of souls, which Jesus is no more able to accomplish alone, without help and cooperation of his close friends. It is like electricity and the bulb. The electricity needs a bulb to shine through. Jesus is in need of intimate friends through whom He can shine, the purpose of which is the salvation and the sanctification of souls. The more united we are to Jesus, the more souls are being saved through suffering love.

St. Therese of Lisieux writes in her autobiography: “…I realized that this love was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. Love, in fact, is the vocation which includes all other; it is a universe of its own, comprising all time and space…it is eternal. Beside myself with joy, I cried out, ‘Jesus, my Love! I have found my vocation, and my vocation is Love. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love’ “.

What was a discovery for St. Therese of Lisieux, for St. Teresa of Calcutta was a dictation and infusion. In the end both come from the same source and origin of that creative Love, which moves and conquers everyone, defeats every vengeance and hatred. Love cannot be conquered or defeated, but it conquers everything and everyone, including one’s enemies. No wonder then Jesus spelled out St. Teresa M.C.’s vocation in those few words, which express little but include everything. In it, then, we have the driving force, the means and the end, i.e. “to love and suffer and save souls”.

Salvation of souls!

The salvation of souls is uppermost in the mind and heart of Jesus. He will do everything to save a soul, even leaving the ninety-nine in the wilderness and to go after the one that is lost (cf. Lk 15: 3-4). But He is helpless without human hands to serve and human hearts to love. He is in need of us, as we are in need of Him; we are utterly helpless without Him.

Jesus makes it very clear when He called St. Teresa of Calcutta and told her again and again to give him souls:

“My little one, give Me the souls of the poor street children. How it hurts, if you only knew, to see these poor children soiled with sins…If you only answer and bring Me these souls—draw them away from the hands of the evil one. If you only knew how many little ones fall into sin every day”.

Jesus goes further and deeper. His love and concern for the souls of the poor is so great that He humbles Himself so much that He feels pity for them: “They are like sheep without a shepherd” (cf. Mt 9: 36-37). Once again Jesus pleads with St. Teresa of Calcutta very tenderly and humbly:

“My little one, come—come; carry Me into the holes of the poor—come; be My light. I cannot go alone. They don’t know Me. So they don’t want Me. You come—go amongst them—carry Me with you into them. In your immolation, in your love for Me, they will see Me, know Me, want Me”.

Jesus wants her to do a few more things to save souls; namely, she has to offer more sacrifices, she has to smile more tenderly, and pray more fervently (cf. Mother’s Founding Grace p. 18). These are still means to save souls, the souls of the poor. Here the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God stoops down, begging from a creature for help to save souls. Here the all powerful becomes so-to-say the all powerless, while remaining omniscient and omnipresent.

The long and continuous locution was not enough to convince the little one. So He let His beloved Spouse have three visions, and in all the three the same end: i.e. to bring souls, especially the souls of the poor, to Jesus. The crowd wants St. Teresa M.C. to save them and bring them to Jesus; Our Lady wants her to bring them to Jesus and carry Jesus to them; and finally Jesus, summarizing the request of the crowd and Our Lady, adds His own from the Cross, in the presence of the crowd and in front of Our Lady:

“I have asked you, they (the crowd) have asked you, she, My Mother has asked you. Will you refuse to do this for Me—to take care of them, to bring them to Me?”.

It is very interesting to read what St. Teresa of Calcutta experienced after the final and moving request of Jesus from the pulpit of the Cross. He then created an insatiable thirst in her to labour for the salvation of souls. For she writes:

“These desires to satiate the longing of our Lord for souls of the poor—(and also) for pure victims of His love (the M.C.s) go on increasing with every Mass and Holy Communion. All my prayers and the whole day in a word—are full of this desire” (MFG p. 19).

Following the inspiration (10 September 1946), the locutions (1946) and visions (1947), St. Teresa M.C. wrote her set of Rules during the Novena to the Holy Spirit. The very first Rule speaks of the general aim of the Missionaries of Charity, which is “to satiate the thirst of Jesus Christ on the Cross for love and for souls”. She experienced in her the very thirst of her beloved crucified Spouse for souls. From now on she and her sisters will tirelessly labour for the salvation of souls, which alone can quench Jesus’ infinite thirst on the Cross for souls. His thirst is never quenched enough as long as there are souls to be saved. He and His beloved Mother Mary will continue to look for generous souls to labour in his vineyard, as “they both gave their all to save souls” (ibid. p. 109)

Intimately linked to saving souls is the wearing of habits. There too Jesus dictates the kind of habit she and her nuns should wear as a sign of their consecration and dedication to the service of the poor. They are the Spouses of Jesus crucified. And their habit, i.e. the sarie, should be simple and poor, which will become holy because it will be His symbol.

What did Jesus want from St. Teresa of Calcutta?

Jesus wanted: Indian nuns that would be victims of His love. They would be Mary and Martha; they would be so united to Jesus; they would radiate His love upon souls.

Jesus wanted free nuns covered with the poverty of the Cross.

Jesus wanted obedient nuns covered with the obedience of the Cross.

Jesus wanted full-of-love nuns covered with the Charity of the Cross.

Jesus wanted her to dress in simple Indian clothes…or, like his own Mother…dressed simple and poor; he wanted her to dress in the sarie, which would eventually become holy and His symbol.

Jesus wanted Indian Missionaries of Charity. He wanted not only St. Teresa of Calcutta, but also her Sisters, to be his fire of love amongst the very poor, the sick, the dying, the little street children.

Jesus wanted her and all those who work with her to bring the poor to Him.

Jesus wanted her and all those who work with her to be victims of His love.

Jesus wanted to use her for His glory, even though He knew she was the most incapable person, weak and sinful.

Jesus wanted her to know that He has chosen her to be His own little Spouse, Spouse of the Crucified Jesus.

He wanted her not to be afraid, but to trust Him lovingly, to trust Him blindly.

Jesus wanted her to know that she will suffer very much, since she is His Spouse, the Spouse of the Crucified Jesus. She has to bear many torments on her heart, as He and His beloved Mother did. They both gave their all for souls. He wanted her and all those who are going to work with her to do the same.

Jesus wanted her not to refuse this important and irrevocable call within a call: to love and suffer and save souls.

Jesus wanted her to know that there are many convents with a number of nuns to look after the rich and well-to-do people, but for His very poor people there was absolutely none. He wanted St. Teresa of Calcutta and all those who work with her to radiate His love on them.

Jesus wanted her to offer more sacrifices, to smile more tenderly and pray more fervently.

Jesus wanted her to carry Him into the holes of the poor, since He cannot go alone. He wanted her to be His light. He wanted her to carry Him with her, whenever and wherever she went. She and those who work with her and like her should not go out without Jesus. They should not go to visit anyone without Jesus. It will simply be a waste of time. “They laboured the whole night long but caught nothing” (Jn 21: 3). Jesus wants us to carry Him with us into the people. He longs to enter their holes, their dark and unhappy homes.

Today how many dark and unhappy homes there are! If Jesus does not enter, if nobody brings Jesus to these homes and places, they will remain dark and unhappy. No Jesus, no happiness, no joy, no peace, because Jesus is the happiness, the joy, the peace. When Jesus is wanted and welcomed in a family, that family will became a holy family. The Nazareth family became holy only because there was Jesus with them. Happy is the family that recognizes and welcomes Jesus. The poor people and all the people will see, know and want Jesus through our immolation, through our personal, life-long love for Jesus.

Jesus wanted her to obey very cheerfully, promptly and without any questions. He told her He will never leave her if she obeys. Without obedience to God’s will, whatever we do, no matter how great and wonderful it may appear, it will have no value. What counts and is important is how conformed our actions are to the will of God, how God is being glorified and man is sanctified. The will of God must be the norm of our life, no matter how hard and difficult it may be. It is worth dying like a martyr to accomplish God’s will. This means preferring God’s will to my life on earth. Obedience to God’s will and charity, which can be against the ways of the world, are the most important things we should practice in this world.

Jesus wanted St. Teresa of Calcutta to take care of the poor, to bring them to Him. He made her see the hungry crowd; he made her hear their cry to save them, to bring them to Jesus. He wanted her to have compassion on them as the poor of Kolkata and of the world, who were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9: 36-38).

Jesus also had Our Lady plead with St. Teresa of Calcutta to take care of the poor, to bring them to Jesus, to carry Jesus to them. Our Lady wanted St. Teresa M.C. to teach them to pray the Rosary, which would make the families stay together. “For the family that prays together, stays together”. Our Lady promised St. Teresa of Calcutta that Jesus and she would be with her and her children and so there is no room for fear, for she says: “Fear not. Jesus and I will be with you and with your children”.

God bless you.

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.



7. THE ‘MOTHER TERESA CHARISM’, a doorway to eternity and a visa for heaven

“I have come to set fire on earth and how I wish it to be ignited” (Lk 12: 49)

“Whoever is thirsty may come to me and drink” (cf. Jn 7: 37 ff.)

This is the centenary year of the birth of St. Teresa of Calcutta. She was born on Friday, 26th August, 1910. The whole world is in intense preparation for this tiny little woman’s birthday, whose heart “has been burning with longing to love Jesus as he has never been loved before” (from St. Teresa M.C.’s letter to Archbishop Ferdinand Périer, 25 January, 1947).

It is a time of great reflection, renewal and spiritual enrichment for many. People are coming to see that the “Mother Teresa Charism” is an inexhaustible patrimony, not only for the Missionaries of Charity (M.C.) Family, but for all peoples of good will, irrespective of caste, colour, religion or nationality. The “Mother Teresa Charism” must go on and go out.

The “Mother Teresa Charism” is in a way our daily life: it is a way of peace and joy, a doorway to eternity, a visa for heaven. It trains people for heaven to hear Jesus say: “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (cf. Mt 25: 31-46).

The “Mother Teresa Charism” has faith as its foundation, hope as its driving force, and charity as its goal. It is based on profound and unshakeable faith because St. Teresa M.C. was convinced right from the beginning of her work with the poor that it was God’s work she was doing, and whatever she did for anyone she did for Jesus. It is based on faith, for she was feeding God in the hungry, satiating God’s thirst in the thirsty, clothing him with dignity in the naked, sheltering him in the homeless, visiting him in the sick, in the aged and the lonely, in the lepers, in the AIDS patients, and befriending and consoling him in prisoners of all kinds.

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On a Friday morning in a small Chapel in Sao Paolo, Brazil, I was in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. The word “holy” began to flash my mind for a long time and I did not know why and what to do with it, although the Lord had put into me the desire to become holy ever since I can remember through my beloved mother, who also wanted to be holy. I still have miles to go; like someone who wants to reach the top of Mount Everest and is still at its bottom.

However, I could not ignore the inspiration and so I began to see what the four letters of the word “holy” could stand for.

H – Humility. The first letter is “H”. I began to reflect on this letter and realized that if I want to be holy I must start with humility. In the lives of the saints I could not find any that were proud. They firmly believed and were convinced that without God they could not become holy, live a life of holiness, nor do God’s work.

What is humility?

The word “humus” in Latin means ground, earth. Here St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation on humility is important. He says that humility means to believe that whatever is good in me comes from God. This includes my birthplace and my parents, as I have not chosen them but the Good God did and they are his gift to me. I should therefore thank God for them and pray for my parents, especially if I did not have a good relationship with them. Little by little I come to realize that everything and everyone is God’s gift and I must become ever more grateful to Him.

In addition to the many gifts and talents that one may have, the education one has received, all are to be recognized as God’s gifts and used and shared with others. Humility does not deny the truth, but emphasizes the holiness of God through our gifts.

St. Teresa of Calcutta used to say that to understand the greatness of God is easy, but it is more difficult to understand his humility. How could a God, who is so inscrutable, become man, born of a woman, born under the law of nature and accept all the vicissitudes of this earthly life and existence? He even went so far as to tell us to learn humility from him, as he is meek and humble of heart (cf. Mt. 11: 30).

St. Thomas of Aquinas says that humility is built on two pillars: truth and justice. The truth, he says, is that whatever is good in us comes from God; and justice, therefore, means to give all honour and glory to God.

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The world of believers and non-believers alike had been waiting with eager longing and expectation for the Divine Mercy Sunday, 27th April, 2014. St. Peter’s square and different parts of the historical city of Rome were filled with countless number of people coming from every corner of the world to participate in the joy of the canonization of one of the great saints of our times, at whose death the young people had cried out in one voice “santo subito” – “a saint soon”.

That cry from the four corners of the world reached heaven and the Lord granted the required miracles both for the beatification (1st May, 2011) and the canonization (27th April, 2014) done though his intercession. He thus has joined the list of the countless number of blessed in heaven, including the mother of the poor, St. Teresa of Calcutta, whom St. John Paul II himself beatified on Mission Sunday, 19th October, 2003, on the silver Jubilee of his pontificate, and was canonized by Pope Francis on 4th September, 2016.

These two great saints of our time have left behind a very rich heritage of profound faith and unforgettable example of the great and undefeatable love of God. What was the secret of their life? Who inspired them, giving them the grace, courage and strength to realize and to accomplish what they have realized and accomplished? Their memory is still fresh, as so many of us had the inestimable privilege of walking and working with both or at least one of them. Both of them drew their strength, renewing their capacity of love of neighbour, particularly the poor, the last, the least and the lost, from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord and vice versa.

We cannot then simply pass by without giving some thought to their devotion to the all important and ineffable gift and mystery that is the most holy Eucharist. Here we limit ourselves to a few of their writings on the Eucharist, which express and explain the power that worked through their lives.

St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta were firmly convinced that the centre of their life was rooted in Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary little by little took possession of them, so much so that they both became “such powerful magnets”, who were able to draw souls to God and God to souls. Both were outstanding in their devotion to the Eucharist and have left such incredible patrimony to the Church. Both of them loved Jesus in the Eucharist, loved and served him in their neighbour, particularly in the very poor. “How could it be otherwise”, wrote St. John Paul II, “since the Christ encountered in contemplation is the same who lives and suffers in the poor?” (cf. V.C. 82/3).

We read the following words in the Constitutions of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers Contemplative:

“…We are called to be contemplative missionaries and missionary contemplatives for twenty-four hours each day; from the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament we go to the presence of Jesus in the poorest of the poor, and vice versa…

“The person of Jesus whom we contemplate, listen to and adore in the Bread of life is the same person of Jesus to whom we give whole-hearted free service in the distressing disguise of the least, the last and the lost, the lonely, the aged, the unloved, the abandoned, the AIDS patients, etc. Jesus is present in all of them, for he said: ‘As long as you did to one of the least of My brothers you did it to Me’ (Mt 25: 31-46)”.

St. Teresa M.C. wrote to the archbishop of Kolkata back in January 1948: “The work that we will have to do will be impossible without His (Jesus’) continual Grace from the tabernacle. He will have to do everything. We have just to follow” (Loreto Covent, Calcutta, 28.01.1948).

We cannot therefore exist nor can we work with the poor without the proper understanding of the twofold presence of Jesus. They are inseparable, like the two wings of a bird. We all know that no bird can fly with one wing alone. The more we love Jesus in the Bread of life, receive him in holy Communion and adore him with fervour, the more we love him and serve him in the poorest of the poor. It is impossible for anyone who really loves Jesus in the Eucharist not to love his neighbour at the same time and not to try to help him in every way possible.

The Christian communities are meant to be Eucharistic communities, which means Jesus in the Eucharist is the centre of their life in community and in their pastoral care.

St. Albert Hurtado, one of the saints of our time, from Santiago da Chile, was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday 23rd October, 2005, during the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His motto was: “My Mass is my life and my life is a prolonged Mass”. Jesus gives himself totally to us in the holy Eucharist.

St. Augustine writes: “Although God is all-powerful, he is unable to give more; though supremely wise, he knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, he has not more to give”.

Often we feel an apparent tension between the active and the contemplative life. St. John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic exhortation ‘Redemptoris Custos, the Guardian of the Redeemer’: “In Joseph the apparent tension between the active and contemplative life finds an ideal harmony that is only possible for those who possess the perfection of Charity”. The most holy Eucharist keeps alive and active the virtue of Charity in us.

In the original Rule for the Sisters, St. Teresa M.C. wrote in 1947: “The Sisters must use every means to learn and increase in that tender love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament” (R. 34). Here St. Teresa M.C., inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, used two absolute words: “must” and “every”, i.e. we must, according to her, which I believe she did herself in the first place, use every means to learn and increase in that tender love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament so that our tender love for Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor may also grow and increase.

From the very beginning of her M.C. vocation our holy Foundress was very aware, clear and convinced that without a special and tender love for Jesus in the Eucharist she, her Sisters and her Brothers would be unable to love and serve Jesus in the poor. It is clear from the letter to the archbishop of Kolkata when she says: “One thing I request you, your Grace, 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 for myself. He will look after us. But without Him I cannot be, I am helpless” (Feast of Corpus Domini, 1947). This was then the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta, and her work was an extension and a continuation of not only Jesus’ work, but Jesus in person worked with her. She, her Sisters and her Brothers are meant to have this conviction, and only then is their life going to produce more and more fruit.

Her intimacy with Jesus started at an early age, as early as five and a half, which became stronger and deeper with years. Here once again we have the authentic text written by her to the archbishop of Kolkata: “From the age of five and a half years, when I first received him in Holy Communion, the love for souls has been within. It grew with the years until I came to India with the hope of saving many souls. In those 18 years I have tried to live up to His desires. I have been burning with longing to love Him as he has never been loved before…(25th January, 1947).

This burning love continued to burn her heart and soul for the salvation and sanctification of the souls, particularly of the poorest of the poor. Each Mass and holy Communion for her was putting more wood in the fire, for she writes: “These desires to satiate the longing of our Lord, for souls of the poor, for pure victims of his love go on increasing with every Mass and Holy Communion. All my prayers and the whole day, in a word are full of this desire” (3rd December, 1947).

Whenever people asked St. Teresa M.C. of the secret of her power, strength and vitality, especially when she was considerably old, she used to point to the tabernacle. Even when she was admitted to various hospitals, she asked for the tabernacle in her hospital bed-room, where she wanted a priest to celebrate the holy Mass daily and give her holy Communion, plus an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed.

In Kolkata, when she was in the Woodlands Nursing Home, it was a Hindu doctor who told the Sisters to bring “that box” from the Mother House of the M.C. Sisters. The doctor did not know how to call this box, which we call the tabernacle – tabernaculos means God’s dwelling among us. The doctor said that St. Teresa M.C. would feel better and less restless if the Sisters brought the “Presence of Jesus” in the Eucharist; and it was done and she showed herself to be exceptionally at peace and graceful.

St. Teresa M.C.’s life, then, was a Eucharistic life. In two of the most important letters she wrote, she says: “One day at Holy Communion I heard the same voice very distinctly…”, and then she enumerates the kind of members she must have, and their qualities. He dictated, so to say, everything to her. He defined in very clear and simple terms the M.C. vocation, namely “to love and suffer and save souls”. He spoke of the kind of habit she and her nuns should wear, the kind of people they should serve, the name of the Congregation she was called to found, etcAlso, her locutions and visions took place in such a context: “In all my prayers and Holy Communion He is continually asking: Wilt thou refuse? When there was a question of your soul, I did not think of myself but gave myself freely for thee on the Cross and now what about thee? Wilt thou refuse?…” (Feast of St. Francis Xavier, 1946).

In his message to the young people of the world St. John Paul II wrote: 

“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 poor. The Eucharist received with love and adored with fervour becomes a school of freedom and Charity in order to fulfil the commandment of love…This Eucharistic school of freedom and Charity teaches us to overcome superficial emotions in order to be rooted firmly in what is true and good; it frees us from all self-attachment in order to open ourselves to others. It teaches us to make the transition from an affective love to an effective love. For love is not merely a feeling; it is an act of will that consists of preferring in a constant manner the good of others to the good of oneself.

“It is with such inner freedom and burning Charity that Jesus teaches us to find him in others, first of all in the disfigured faces of the poor. Blessed 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 Christ…The world is in urgent need of great prophetic signs of fraternal Charity! It is not enough to speak of Jesus. We must also let him be seen somehow through the eloquent witness of our own life” (St. John Paul II).

Our love for Jesus in the Bread of life and our love for the poorest of the poor are inseparable. They form one single reality. In order that we may feed the hungry and quench the thirsty, Jesus first of all feeds us with his own Body; he satiates our thirst with his Word and his Blood.

Pope Benedict XVI writes in his first encyclical letter ‘Deus Caritas Est’: “Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me, and how much he loves me. The saints – consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta – constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord and conversely this encounter acquired its realism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbour are inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first” (18).

This twofold love can be compared to the water that goes into a tank through a pipe. The tank receives water through one pipe and then the same water goes out through another pipe to be distributed to all those in need. The tank, as we know very well, does not produce water, nor does the tank drink or absorb the water. The purpose and function of the tank is to collect water through one pipe and distribute it to all those around through another. There is a saying in Latin: “Nemo dat quod non habet” (None can give what he or she does not have). We give and share what we receive from the good God in prayer. That is why Jesus said to St. Teresa M.C. that she, the Sisters and the Brothers must be so united to Him as to radiate his love on souls. The more we receive, the more we give and share with all those in need, and the more we share, the more we receive. Love grows through love. The source of this invincible love is the most Holy Trinity, which is an inexhaustible fountain. We connect ourselves to this fountain of love through prayer, especially through the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. In this way we always live in love for love. The holy Eucharist continually nourishes, strengthens, keep alive and active our love. Thus our love becomes more and more effective.

In the words of St. John Paul II: 

“Proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes” (1Cor 11: 26) entails that all who take part in the Eucharist be committed to changing their lives and making them in a certain way completely Eucharistic.

“…Significantly in the account of the Last Supper, the Gospel of John relates, as a way of bringing out its profound meaning, the account of the ‘washing of the feet’, in which Jesus appears as the teacher of communion and of service(Ecclesia de Eucharistia No. 20).

St. John Chrysostom writes:

“Do you want 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 overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying in hunger. Start with satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well” (St. John Chrysostom, In Evangelium S. Matthae, hom 50: 3-4).

Our Mother Church and all its members draw their life from the Eucharist for the most holy Eucharist contains our entire spiritual wealth (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia 1). It can be said that the most holy Eucharist builds our Church and makes it to grow. The celebration of the Eucharist is at the centre of the process of the Church’s growth:

Mindful of the command of the Lord: ‘Do this in memory of me’ (Lk 22: 19), persons in authority will assure that the holy mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ is celebrated and venerated as “the source and summit” of communion with God and among brothers and sisters.

“Celebrating and adoring the gift of the Eucharist in faithful obedience to the Lord, the community draws from it the inspiration and strength for its total dedication to God, in order to be a sign of its gratuitous love for humanity and an efficacious pointing toward future goods” (Service of Authority and Obedience 13b).

The Constitutions of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers Contemplative say:

“We should never forget that the heart of the Eucharistic celebration is the self-giving of Jesus in the Bread of life and in the broken, imprisoned, sickly, lonely, bodies of the poor. The sacrifice of ourselves with Jesus in the Eucharist for the sake of the others – our Brothers and the poor – is the single foundation of every community. We unite ourselves with the Lord in a fruitful and acceptable sacrifice for the life of the world.

“Each day we are nourished at the Lord’s Table and filled with His Word and Bread. So we should be ever ready to break “the Bread of life” for the poor and the hungry everywhere in the world. We keep nothing for ourselves but share with the poor in joy and in gladness of heart all we have received from God’s tenderness.

“Our whole life must be worship in Spirit and truth. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and contemplation that is full of faith, and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease!’ (St. John Paul II, The Holy Eucharist, 24th February, 1980).

I would like to conclude this discourse on the ineffable gift of the Eucharist by quoting again St. Teresa M.C., who wrote:

“The attraction for the Blessed Sacrament at times was so great. I longed for Holy Communion. Night after night the sleep would disappear, and only to spend those hours for his coming. This began in Asansol. Now every night for one hour or two, I have noticed it from 11.00 p.m. to 1.00 a.m., the same longing breaks into the sleep” (St. Teresa M.C. to Fr. Van Exem, 08.08.1947).

This was St. Teresa of Calcutta’s life and her daily experience. Let this be our life and experience as well. Let all long for his coming in the Bread of life to receive him in holy Communion with burning love, adore him in the Eucharist with great fervour and enthusiasm and serve him in one another, particularly in the very poor.

“Let our adoration never cease” (St. John Paul II), and our love for the poor never fall short.

God bless you.

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.



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 St. John Paul II, declared from October 2004 to October 2005 the “Year of the Eucharist” (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine, 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 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 only Mass and 

your last Mass”

Of course these words apply to the celebrant as well as the participants.

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Mary and Joseph. God so loved the Virgin Mary that he gave his only begotten Son to her. The spotless Virgin Mary received him first in her heart and then in the womb (cf. LG, 53). Ever since Mary welcomed the word of the eternal Father in her virginal womb she loved him above everyone, above everything and above herself. But that love for Jesus she felt was incomplete. With Jesus in her immediately she went in haste  to give him to her cousin Elizabeth and to others. Since then her life became inseparable from Jesus’ life and vice versa. It can be said  that the virgin of Nazareth whom the eternal Father chose to be the Mother of God and the Mother of the Redeemer lived and worked for Jesus, her beloved Son. 

Since the Annunciation which was her first Holy Communion Day (St. Teresa of Calcutta) Mary became the first tabernacle of the Lord. For nine months the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, dwelt in her, grew in her and the “Redeemer of man” breathed through her. Their heart beats were unison. He went where Mary went. He slept where she slept. Mary fed him with her life blood. No other creature could have greater physical closeness nor spiritual intimacy with Jesus than Mary had. It not only lasted for thirty three years but their relationship, especially the spiritual closeness, grew stronger and deeper with years of living and working together for the salvation of the world even after their earthly career was over.

The person chosen by God to share the physical closeness and spiritual intimacy was St. Joseph. It was to St. Joseph the eternal father entrusted the care and protection of both Jesus and Mary; and these were three extraordinary persons who ever lived on earth. In all three there was nothing but the desire to do the will of God, the Father. There was nothing but love and service, there was no ambition except to give and share; no other hunger and thirst except to know God, to love him madly and serve him whole-heartedly, to teach people to obey his commandments, and bring God to them and them to God. 

They were people of deep inner convictions. In the presence of each other their convictions grew stronger and deeper. Their personal intimacy with Jesus made Mary and Joseph even more convinced of the importance of their vocation and mission. Their vocation and mission were not limited to their short span of life in this world of suffering, trials and sorrow, but became more powerful, effective and extraordinary after their going home to God. Their mission of love became an extension of the Father’s plan for and mission to mankind. Through them the eternal Father, who loves the world more than a mother who loves her suckling child (cf. Is 49: 15), not only reveals his saving plan for man but enables it to be realized through them until the end of the world. In this our Lady is the highly privileged and favoured daughter on whom the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bestowed every spiritual blessing in the heavens. Even before the foundation of the world, she was chosen by the Father to be his beloved and favourite daughter to become the mother of his only begotten Son (cf. Eph 1: 3 ff.).

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2. The Missionaries of Charity train

In the dark hours of the night of Tuesday, 10 September, 1946 Mother Teresa IBVM was in a running train, heading toward the hill country of Darjeeling, in the high ranges of the mighty Himalayas.

She was going away from the crowded and noisy city of Kolkata, careless and chaotic, to go into the silence of contemplation, as she knew very well that the call to holiness is accepted and can be cultivated only in the silence of contemplation. She did not know or realize that the crowd she was trying to get away from was following her all the way.

Her eyes being closed, her mind being still, the noisy train running in the dark hours of the night, without warning there appears a big crowd of people: emaciated bodies, eaten up by worms; abandoned babies, orphaned, unloved, uncared for; disfigured faces of lepers, lost limbs and lost feet. Their feeble hands raised towards her, spoke very softly but very firmly without complaints: “Mother Teresa, come, come, save us, bring us to Jesus”. We are being abandoned, sheep without a shepherd and guide; we are in need of a guide, a helper, a Saviour!

The crowd knew before she knew the plan God had for her. There would be a radical change in her lifestyle, her vocation and her mission. Her eyes had not yet seen, her mind had not yet grasped what God was preparing her for!

Although she was getting away from the crowd, it was following her They were with her, and she found herself in the midst of the crowd she was going away from! The hungry and the thirsty crowd saw in her the one to bring them to the Saviour. Jesus was still hiding himself. He wanted her to see him in faith.

“Thomas, you believed because you saw me, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20: 29). Within minutes he was going to make her meet someone very special to him: his very dear Mother in the crowd: “Mother Teresa, do you see the crowd? Take care of them. They are mine. Bring them to Jesus”, who is their true Saviour. 

Neither the crowd by themselves, nor St. Teresa M.C. by herself, nor even Our Lady can save people. Jesus alone is their Saviour. He alone is our Saviour. He alone saves all. He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the world (cf. Jn 1: 29).

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“Come, be my light!” (Jesus to our Foundress)

Our Society known as the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative is a diocesan religious Institute composed of Brothers and priests with equal rights and obligations, founded by St. Teresa of Calcutta with Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala, on 19 March, 1979.

It was erected into a diocesan religious Institute in Rome by his Eminence Cardinal Camillo Ruini, on 8 December, 1993, on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The members take public vows of Chastity, Poverty, Obedience and whole-hearted free Service to the poorest of the poor lived according to the Institute’s own Constitutions:

  • With a life marked by an intense life of prayer, penance and works of mercy in simplicity and humility within their own communities and in the heart of the world, aided by the Superior who is their father, teacher and guide.
  • Who are called by the Lord to reflect, live and diffuse the Spirit, Charism and Mission entrusted to our Foundress, St. Teresa of Calcutta. Currently the Brothers serve the poorest of the poor in Rome, Albania, India, Ghana, Nigeria and Israel.

What are they called to do?

“Little one, give me souls” (Jesus to our Foundress)

To satiate the infinite thirst of Jesus on the Cross and in the Eucharist for love and for souls. Remaining in the heart of the Church we consecrate and sanctify ourselves, our Society and the entire world, especially the world of the poorest of the poor:

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“The Church, the bride of Christ, the Church, our Mother. We can glorify God through the Church, in the Church, under the Church by our fidelity to the gift that the Church has entrusted to us: the gift of acceptance of us, of our hands to serve and our hearts to love.

We must not spoil the Church by our selfishness and sinfulness, for we all together make the Body of Christ, the Church. And at present our Holy Father is a real Father to each one of us if we own that fidelity. That strength of faith that he is trying to give to each one of us will help us to love the Church and to serve the Church with a pure heart” (St. Teresa of Calcutta).

1) How do you feel when you hear or read St. Mother Teresa M.C.’s words?

I feel very much at home, as she brings me back many memories of the past. It is like listening to my own mother. There is the real conviction that comes from her own heart and from her everyday life. When St. Mother Teresa M.C. saw a person in need she didn’t ask what others were doing or not doing but asked herself what she could do, and simply did what she could. And when she was unable to help that person she would ask somebody else who could help her to do that. But she would never leave anyone feeling uncared for or unloved or unwanted. She always took care of them then and there, not waiting for a better tomorrow or simply brooding over the past.

p.Sebastian VAZHAKALA
p.Sebastian VAZHAKALA

2) You were the co-founder with St. Mother Teresa M.C. of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers Contemplative. Can you say something about it?

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