By Fr. F. Sunil Rosario
Prague: The Annual International meeting of Corpus Christi Movement took place this year at Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic and the city of Saints, from December 31 - Jan. 10, 2005. There were about twenty five priests, Diocesan and Religious as associated members from all over the world, from U.S., Rome, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Spain, Mexico, India, Argentina and Czech Republic. It was a seminar cum retreat based on the charism of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, "I Thirst" and "Come, be My Light!" in the light of the infinite thirst of Jesus on the cross for love and for souls, which was at the root of Mother Teresa's call and which became her driving force behind all she did was the major thrust of the entire ten days gathering. It was also to deepen the spirit behind the works of Mother Teresa and to bring Light and Love of Christ to the poorest of the poor, through the priestly ministry.
Corpus Christi Movement was Mother Teresa's call to holiness for the priests throughout the world through their priestly ministry to satiate the thirst of God for man and of man for God. Her vision for the Diocesan priests was "Let us all together with Jesus fill the world with His love through our works of love. It was her wish that this movement for priests may inflame the love of Christ throughout the world. In the words of Mother Teresa "This comes directly from the Heart of Jesus It is a little way of holiness for priests, no matter what their priestly assignments might be... Jesus loves His priests very much and He wants them to grow in holiness by living the priesthood to the full - this simple way."
The CCM began way back in 1982 in association with Fr. Joseph Langford, who later founded the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. Since the time of its inception, Fr. Pascual Cervera, a diocesan priest from the Archdiocese of New York has been actively involved in the movement and is its Coordinator, Before the project was presented to the Vatican officials in Rome, it was seen and approved by His Eminence, John Cardinal O'Connor. In July 1997, His Holiness Pope John Paul II imparted His Apostolic blessings on the initiative. He prayed that "this initiative will bear abundant fruit for the fostering of priestly holiness and the spiritual renewal of the Church." Hence, the aim of CCM is an attempt to live the Gospel more fully and faithfully in greater simplicity and poverty of Spirit through the priestly ministry. It is to share spiritually in the charism and spirit given by God to the Universal Church through Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity family.
The Seminar cum Retreat for priests was meant to revive the spirit behind CCM and to help the priests to live this spirituality, "I Thirst" in the context of their own ministry and priestly vocation. It was also to strive for personal holiness and for their salvation and sanctification of all souls. To satiate the thirst of Jesus for souls and the thirst of souls for the love Jesus is a specific call given to the priests. The members of CCM, already active in ministry are called to live this charism by living the priestly lives centered in the Eucharist, source and summit of all priestly life and by a complete abandonment to the hands of Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests.
The four days seminar prior to retreat dealt with the dynamics of preaching retreat, the Ignatian structure of the Retreat, Principles and Foundation of Retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and the Discernment of the Spirit. Rich inputs were given by Frs. Pascual Cervera, Leo Maasburg, David Kueter, OMV and the life giving retreat centered on Eucharist was preached by Fr, Joseph Langford, Fr. Thomas Kleinschmidt,OMV and Fr. David Kueter, OMV. The deliberations were based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and how Mother Teresa in her own spiritual journey applied them in reaching out to the poorest of the poor, seeing the face of Jesus, everyone she met in her caring ministry.
Fr Jaroslav Broz, an active member of CCM, Scripture professor in the Seminary and Spiritual Director for MC sisters in Prague made all the necessary arrangements in collaboration with OFM Capuchin Monastery. The historical monastery where the priests spent their days in prayer and reflection has a rich religious and cultural heritage. The beautiful settings of the Church's Architectural designs with meaningful biblical icons reflect the magnanimity and depth of religious life. The most significant among them is the setting of the crib, the scene of nativity, is a constant attraction to the visitors and tourists from all over the world.
Prague is known for its rich cultural and religious heritage. It has played an important role in shaping the lives of the people through centuries. Though the seeds of Christianity was sown here in the 9th cent, the country under the Communist regime for over four decades since 1948 in the last century has undergone many hardships and persecutions. The Church in many ways lived the passion of Lord Jesus Christ and suffered a great deal and yet these have not diminished the forth but only increased among the faithful. For the priests gathered here, the meeting was an eye opener to many historical realities and they came in touch with numerous saints, who lived and walked on the sacred ground of this great city. It was obvious from the many magnificent Churches, pilgrimage centers, Monasteries and places of devotion and worship. Offering mass at the Shrine of Infant Jesus of Prague accompanied by a nice group of poor people at the Cathedral and at the tombs of St. Norbert, St. Wenceslaus, St. John Nepomucene and St. Vitus brought grace to all and the Corpus Christi Movement. The MC sisters shared the joy of being together in the celebration of the Eucharist at the Norbertine Monastery.
The visit to His Excellency, Miloslav Cardinal Vlk was also very meaningful and encouraging. He welcomed all the members whole-heartedly. In his brief meeting with the priests, he appreciated deeply the initiative taken by CCM to revive the spirit of Jesus throughout the world by living the charism of Mother Teresa through the priestly ministry. He said, that he knew Mother Teresa very personally and he is very much aware of this powerful charism operating in the Church. Further he said, "What Mother Teresa has left behind will have a lasting effect to bring glory to God and to bring people closer to Jesus." "It's a great mission and challenge for the priests to carry on with total dedication to serve Christ in the poor and through their priestly ministry. I encourage you to go ahead with this charism and I give you all my blessings", said the Cardinal.
As the Corpus Christi Movement has been officially approved by the Holy See on August 6, 2004, the members worked on its statutes based on the documents presented to the Vatican in the presence of Mother Teresa, in July 1997, The statutes are meant for deeper study, reflection and its implementation in the respective areas of priestly ministry throughout the world.
Mother Teresa's Prayer for Priests
Mary, Mother of Jesus,
throw your mantle of purity over our priests. Protect them, guide them, and keep them in your heart. Be a Mother to them, especially in times of discouragement and loneliness. Love them and keep them belonging completely to Jesus. Like Jesus, they, too, are your sons, so keep their hearts pure and virginal. Keep their minds filled with Jesus, and put Jesus always on their lips, so that he is the one they offer to sinner and to all they meet. Mary, Mother of Jesus, be their Mother, loving them and bring them joy. Take special care of sick and dying priests, and the ones most tempted. Remember how they spent their youth and old age, their entire lives serving and giving all to Jesus. Mary, bless them and keep a special place for them in your heart. Give them a piece of your heart, so beautiful and pure and immaculate, so full of love and humility, so that they, too, can grow in the likeness of Christ, Dear Mary, make them humble like you, and holy like Jesus.