Satiating God and Man
„Jesus stood up and proclaimed: If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture says: Out of his heart shall flow springs of living water. This he said of the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive…” (Jn 7:37)
1 The Gift of Renewal
"If you but knewthe gift of God..." [Jn 4:10]
The Priest Coworkers of Mother Teresa is an international movement of priestly renewal born of the desire expressed by priests of various countries, both diocesan and religious, to attempt to live the gospel more fully and faithfully, through deeper prayer life, poverty of spirit, and growing apostolic charity; by sharing within the context of their own priestly vocation and ministry in the charism of renewal given by God to the universal Church through Mother Teresa:
The title "Priest Coworkers" expresses the double reality of our ministry and our Movement: as priests we are Christ's co-workers, our gift and our ministry are not our own. They belong to Christ in us, and exist for the sake of Christ in others, for the sake of a humanity suffering and poor in body and soul which He wishes to assume ever more fully unto Himself through our ministry and holiness of life. And since we are co-workers, in which term is expressed all our dignity and at the same time all our poverty, we who "carry this great treasure in vessels of clay". (2 Cor 4:7) are in constant need of nourishing and exercising the gift and the grace we bear: '”As Christ's co-workers, we beg you not to neglect the grace you have received... " (2 Cor 6:1).
The Movement's primary purpose and charism is priestly renewal, a renewal attained through growth in prayer, poverty of spirit, and ministerial service; so as to glorify the Father by being channels for Jesus' mission of satiating the “sitio” of His thirsting members with the living waters of the Spirit.
"You are the salt of the earth"... (Mt5:13).The personal task of renewal demands that we keep our ministerial intimacy with the Lord from "losing it's savor" by "stirring into flame the grace that is within us by the laying on of hands' , (2 Tm 1 :6). We believe this work of renewal, this desire for priestly renewal, to be one of the major signs of the Spirit in the Church of our time, and perhaps its most pressing need. In the service of this work the Priest Coworkers Movement seeks to promote in the priest a rediscovery of the great fundamental mysteries of his priesthood in Jesus Christ, and to awaken a renewed and deepened appreciation and living of this greatest of gifts the Lord has given him. This deepening can lead to an ever-growing conscious and operative sense of the priest's oneness, identification with Jesus Christ, to an ever-fuller understanding of what it means to be Christ's co-worker.
"You know what hour it is, that it is full time for you to wake from sleep" (Rm 13:11). Renewal means awakening, an awakening from what may too often be the sleep of spiritual stasis to the light-filled day of new intimacy with the Trinity in Jesus through our priesthood.
"Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Rm 12:1), '”renewed by the power of the Spirit in your inner man'” (Eph 3:16). Transformation is the final fruit of renewal through the power of God's Spirit, a total transformation of the "inner man" that makes us what we are to be: co-workers of the Living God, channels of His presence and power: “It is in fact the proper function of the minister, in the heart of the Church, to make present the love of God in Jesus Christ for us through word and sacrament, and to bring about the communion of men with God and among themselves. All these things require, especially in us who carry out the sacred ministry, the commitment to daily renewal according to the gospel" (Synod 1971).
The spirit of the Movement is intended neither to add nor alter in any way the characteristic spirituality of either the diocesan or the reliqious priest. It aims exclusively at encouraging and deepening rather than adding to the specific charism of the individual priest: underlining and encouraging a greater generosity in that which is common to all -the living of the gospel -and to greater fidelity in that which is particular to each. Each within the Movement is to answer Jesus' "Sitio" in his own way, where he is, with his particular gifts of grace and mission, and in the people who surround him. It is there that he is called as coworker not to do what a Mother Teresa does but as she does: seeing, loving, serving the Lord in the people entrusted to his care, for they are his thirsting Christ.
By virtue of that call, we too are messengers with Jesus of the Father's love, anointed with His Spirit to "bring glad tidings to the poor" (Lk 4:18), above all to the spiritually poor of our own parishes who all, regardless of want or wealth, suffer a hunger which can never be satiated with "bread alone": they hunger for God, for His word, for the Bread of Life, for the touch of His compassion. And so we who are ordained to satisfy that hunger cannot be content with mere administration or even with generous activity: our people hunger for us to be men of God, we are called to "be Jesus" for them.
For each of us it has been the perception of this call in the midst of our own mediocrity, the call to rise above that mediocrity, to give more of ourselves to God and our people through God's own gift of our priesthood, coupled with the desire to carry out in our own lives and in our own small way Mother Teresa's vision of faith and message of love, that brought us initially to the Movement and which continues to sustain us in the path we have chosen as individuals and as a fraternity.
The Movement shares the conviction that Mother Teresa's charism of renewal is a universal gift for the universal Church, a message that shares in the universality of the gospel because it echoes that gospel so appealingly and so well. It is a message capable of touching hearts and changing lives of believers and non-believers alike, a message which possesses such power and attraction precisely because it is not hers but His. To enshrine that message within the streets of Calcutta would be to imprison it there, to deform and reduce it to something much more comfortable which need not challenge us in any way. To understand the universality of her message is to find that Calcutta everywhere: in our brother priests, in the streets and homes of our own parishes, and in the hungering hearts of our own people.
It is this message of gospel renewal, capable of touching every facet of our priesthood, that is for us invitation, stimulus, and challenge. If indeed we are trying to live by this stimulus and to accept this challenge, we might rightly be asked if and how we have changed. On the surface perhaps there is still little that is noticeable, for we are poor and weak as those we serve, “bearing this great gift in vessels of clay." But let us state from the outset that ours is by no means an elitist movement: if anything we are among our brother priests the ”poorest of the poor,” those who have felt the burden of inner poverty and need of the Lord, who have had to battle with superficiality and mediocrity in our life of prayer and ministry.
What then do we feel we have gained? Much indeed: firstly, perhaps, a growing unity of life, fruit of a new sense of direction and purpose based on the conviction that Calcutta is indeed everywhere, present in every man and in every moment. It is this vision which gives unity and value to all: the thirsting Jesus in every place, in every person, in every event, in every hour. It is with this vision of faith that we are able to transform the scattered moments of our day into an uninterrupted encounter with the broken and mendicant Jesus, with the Jesus who is ever One: in the Eucharist, in our heart, in our people.
Secondly, we believe that the mere acceptance of this vision of renewal and its challenge is in itself a great gain. Though we are doubtless still mediocre, the great thing, the great difference is that we are no longer at peace with our mediocrity. This is the grace which, only seemingly small, has become our pearl of great price, our mustard seed, a grace which we constantly strive in our weakness not to reject, a seed which in that very weakness can take root and grow, even to the point where our people and our God can "find shelter in its branches" (Lk 13:19). And if in our human poverty we daily discover our own ordinariness, we still find ourselves in the company of the Mother Teresa who in those moments perhaps seems inimitable, but who herself has been described as "remarkable only in her ordinariness," an ordinariness which points to God, not to her (or our) talent, but to His power at work in human weakness: the mediated omnipotence of God's compassion and love, God's tender gaze shining through human eyes.
We may fall and we may fail, but God's great gift to us and our great hope in our weakness is in accepting this seed, this vision, this way of life: certain that to others we may seem not to have changed, but knowing in our heart that we can never be the same. If we have wished to share this vision, it is because in attempting to live it we have found a new enthusiasm for our priesthood, a growing thirst for the Lord in prayer, a message pointing us towards all we have ever felt our priesthood could and should be, and a gift far too great to be borne alone.
It is this gift we wish to share, for being a Priest Coworker is essentially the Spirit's gift, not our choice but our response to His call, a call and a gift we believe can bring rebirth and renewal in one's priesthood. The Movement is not meant to be a challenge but an invitation, a humble channel for the Spirit, "God as it were exhorting through us": "Stir into flame the gift that is in you..." (2 Cor 5:20/2 Tm 1:6).