Radiating the Light and Christ: A Call to Holiness. (pause) A Vigil of Prayer with and for Priests: Sign of Mother Teresa’s ongoing love for priests. (pause) We acknowledge in this time of prayer the great gift of Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist and the great gift of the priesthood through which Jesus comes to us as the Bread of Life. The meditations that follow are taken from various reflections of Mother Teresa on the priesthood. We present them as an invitation for all to recognize the beauty of this vocation and as our special gift to priests.
Choir begins to sing: “Adoro Te Devote”
Deacon / Priest: The Lord be with you
Response: And also with you
Deacon / Priest: From the Gospel of John
“Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved those who were his in this world, loved them to the end.
They were at supper, and the devil had already put into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from god and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garments and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ’At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never’ said Peter, ‘You shall never wash my feet’ Jesus replied,’ If I do not wash you, you can have no share with me’ Simon Peter said, ‘Well then Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well’. Jesus said, ‘No one who has had a bath needs washing, such a person is clean all over. ‘You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, and that was shy he said,’ though not all of you are’.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’, he said, ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.
In all truth I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.
This is the Gospel of the Lord
Praise be to God.
HOMILY CALLED TO FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD: PRIEST AND DISCIPLE
Mother Teresa had a great love for priests. This love was directly connected to her love for Jesus. She truly saw the priest as “another Christ” and realized the great dignity of this role. God’s love gives to the priests this special mission to make Jesus present in our world, in everything he does and says, but most of all in the great and Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Mother Teresa realized that the priest must himself progress towards an intimate union with Christ so that he may more effectively lead all of us to the joy of loving God and one another whole-heartedly. Let us listen to the words of Mother Teresa:
When we look at the cross, we know how much Jesus loved us.
When he died for us; when we look at the tabernacle, we know
how much Jesus loves us now. This is why it is very important
for us to believe in the tender love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. His love today leads us to choose the better part.
“I have called you by name: you are mine… You are precious in my eyes and glorious…
Fear not, for I am with you” (Is.43:1-5). This is the way the Scripture so clearly expresses the tenderness and love to all his people. He chose you to be priests, so that he could use you in this way. Something very beautiful is written in the Constitution of our sisters: “Christ offers to you and to me a long life of faithful and personal friendship, espousing himself to us in tenderness and love. And to make our oneness with him an even more beautiful reality, he gives us the Eucharist.” You priests must have this friendship with Jesus, so that we can learn from you how to live a life of holiness.
“Be holy, as the Father in heaven is holy”. This is a clear com-
mand from the Heart of Jesus. Be holy. Holiness is nothing less
than the Father’s living example within us. Holiness is not the
luxury of the few, but the simple duty of all, and especially of
priests who stand in the place of Christ.
To have fidelity to prayer, to be able to pray, a priest must know silence, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. Prayer is a listening also, and it is very important for the priest to learn how to pray, that is one of the things that Jesus tried to teach His disciples, how to pray. And the prayer of a priest is to allow Jesus to pray in him and through him. Therefore, he must be so pure, so completely at His disposal that Christ can really be one with His Father through him. Prayer is the food of life for the priest. A priest who does not pray cannot stay close to Christ; he cannot allow Christ to use him as He wants to use him. The fruit of prayer is always a deepening of faith, and unless the priest has that deep faith, it is very difficult for him to pray. And the fruit of faith is always love. And if a priest does not love, how will he help others to love? And the fruit of love is service – service as Jesus said: “I have come amongst you as One to serve.” And the priest is meant to be that one, to come amongst his own and be the servant of all.
Jesus, in making Himself the hungry one and the naked one and the homeless one, He really gives us the treasures of His Heart. I think this is why He made Himself the Bread of Life, to satisfy our
hunger for God, our hunger for love. And then He makes Himself the hungry one, so we can satisfy His hunger for human love…
For our love, and by giving us that, He gives us everything. That is why for you and for us, it is the same thing: that oneness, with the Eucharist is necessary. Our lives must be woven with the Eucharist.
Today he is saying the same thing, to you and to me, “I thirst for the love of souls.” How many of us here today will satiate that thirst of Jesus by working for the salvation and sanctification of souls? That is his thirst, his hunger…I will pray to you to be holy priests. The church has never needed holy priests as it does today. Let us allow Jesus to use us all for his glory and the good of the poorest of the poor, so that e can satiate his burning thirst for the love of souls.
CALLED TO LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE. PRIEST AND VICTIM
Mother Teresa understood that following Christ would not be easy. As Jesus Himself said: “if you would be My disciple, take up your cross and follow Me.” The priest is united in a special way to the Cross-as symbolized by his prostration at ordination. The priest is called to “lay down his life” completely as he is committed to be servant of the greatest love: offering to God the worship of His children and granting them the mercy of the Heavenly Father. The priest must daily live the words of Sacred Scripture: “I must decrease so that He may increase” and “It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me.” Let us listen to the words of Mother Teresa:
To be able to really be a priest according to the Heart of Jesus you need much prayer and penance. A priest needs to unite his own sacrifice with the sacrifice of Christ, if he really wants to be completely one with Jesus on the altar.
And then his life of sacrifice, his life of penance, must complete Jesus’ because as St. Paul said, we must complete the things that are missing in the sufferings of Christ.
By freely choosing celibacy, the priest renounces earthly fatherhood and gains a share in the Fatherhood of God. Instead of becoming father to one or more children on earth, he is now able to love everybody in Christ. Yes, Jesus calls His priest to carry His father’s tender love for each and every man. For this reason, people call him: “Father”… Priestly celibacy is not just not getting married, not to have a family. It is undivided love for Christ in chastity. Nothing and Nobody will separate me from the love of Christ. It is not simply a list of don’ts-it is love: freedom to love and to be all things to all men. And for that we need the freedom of poverty and simplicity of life. Jesus could have everything but He chose to have nothing. We too must choose not to have or to use certain luxuries. For the less we have to ourselves, the more of Jesus we can give, and the more we have for ourselves, the less of Jesus we can give. As priests, you must all be able to experience the joy of that freedom, having nothing, having no one. You can then love Christ with undivided love. That is why, a priest who is completely free to love Christ, the work that he does in obedience is his love for Christ in action. The Precious Blood is his hand, the Living Bread he can break and give to all who are hungry for God. Let those who are called to follow Jesus and to share in His Priesthood, pray and ask for the courage to give…’to give until it hurts’ This giving is true love in action and we can do it only when we are one with Jesus….
You have said “Yes” to Jesus and He has taken you at your word.
The Word of God became Jesus, the poor one. And so this terrible
Emptiness you experience. God cannot fill what is full. He can fill only emptiness, deep poverty, and your “yes” is the beginning of being or becoming empty. It is not how much we really ‘have’ to give but how empty we are so we can receive fully in our life and let Him live His life in us. In you today He wants to relive His complete submission to His Father allow Him to do so. It does not matter what you feel but what He feels in you. Take away your eyes from yourself and rejoice that you have nothing, that you are nothing, that you can do nothing. Give Jesus a big smile each time your nothingness frightens you. This is the poverty of Jesus. You and I must let Him live in us and through us in the world. Cling to Our Lady for she too, before she could become full of grace, full of Jesus, had to go through that darkness. “How this could be done…” but the moment she said “yes” she had needed to go in haste and give Jesus to John and his family.
Keep giving Jesus to your people not by words but by your example, by your being in love with Jesus, by radiating His holiness and spreading his fragrance of love everywhere you go. Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength be happy at peace, accept whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile. You belong to Him. Tell Him “I am Yours and if You cut me to pieces every single piece will be only all Yours.” Let Jesus be the victim and the priest in you.
PRAYER OF CARDINAL NEWMAN
Cardinal Newman has written a wonderful prayer, in which he reveals his priestly heart in conversation with God. I think that just to live this prayer is holiness for a priest:
Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with Your Spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through us, and be so in us, that every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our souls. Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus! Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others; the light, of Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be ours, it will be You, shining on others through us.
Let us thus praise Thee in the way You love best, by shining on those around us. Let us preach You without preaching, not by words (alone) but by our example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You. AMEN!
BENEDICTION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Incensation of the Holy Eucharist (“Tantum Ergo”), Prayer and Benediction.
Reposition of the Holy Eucharist in the tabernacle (during recitation of the Divine Praises, M.C. version.
Mother Teresa placed all of her works under the special patronage of the Mother of God. She consecrated her life to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the sure way to growing in holiness-happy to let Mary shape our hearts to be like her own heart: humble, generous and faithful to the Word of God in all things. Mother Teresa always exhorted others to “Be only all for Jesus through Mary!” After let us listen to the words of Mother Teresa:
What a terrible responsibility for you, to be God’s love, his
compassion, his presence….What a tremendous responsibility for you, to be holy. You can’t give to others what you don’t have yourself. That’s why is important you have a deep love for Mary. She will guide you. She will protect you. She will keep you for Jesus. There are so many, many temptations and difficulties in the world today. Try to be pure and humble like her. She will help you to be holy like Jesus. Her purity and humility attracted God himself. That’s why she was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus…You as priests should cling to her and love her. She will be a real mother to you. She will help you. She will guide you. She will protect you from many difficulties and temptations….Mary must remain real.
Put you hand in Mary’s hand and ask her to lead you to Jesus. When Jesus came into
Her life, she went in haste to give Him to others. And you too when become His priest,
with her go in haste to give Jesus to others. But remember, you cannot give what you
do not have. And to be able to give, you need to live that oneness with Christ, and He is
there in the Tabernacle. Make it a point that first thing in the morning that Jesus be the
centre of your life. During the day, learn to pray the work, work with Jesus, work for
Jesus. Always keep close to Mary. Ask her to give you her heart, so beautiful, so pure,
so immaculate, her heart so full of love and humility, that you may be able to receive
Jesus and give Jesus in the Bread of Life to others. Love Jesus as she loved Him, and
serve Him in the distressing disguise of the poor.
All present recite the prayer of Mother Teresa 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, 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 sinners and to all they meet. Mary, Mother of Jesus, be their Mother, loving them and bring them joy. Take special care of the 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. AMEN!
The priests present now join in reciting the consecration of their priesthood to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and my mother,
I, Father…………………, consecrate my priesthood to you this day.
I entrust myself to you so that you may form my heart according to your
Immaculate Heart to love God and neighbour with the same humility and generosity.
In a spirit of loving trust, I totally and whole-heartedly surrender my life to serve God through purity, obedience, simplicity of life, and availability to the needs of those I am called to serve.
Lead me to satiate Christ’s Thirst for love and souls by my life of prayer and apostolic labour.
May I always follow Jesus the Good Shepherd with cheerfulness- never counting the cost of my sacrifices and doing even little things with great love.
Fill my heart with gratitude at the gift of my precious vocation and with wonder at the marvels God works through me, especially as He descends in love to the altar through my hands.
Give me above all else the desire to be holy and the zeal to lead those entrusted to my care to Heaven. Help me to live as another Christ in our world today; radiating the light of his love everywhere I go.
May I be only all for Jesus through Mary. AMEN!