To gaze on Mary with Mother Teresa and her sisters is to look into Mary’s Immaculate Heart. “I put all my trust in her heart,” Mother Teresa confided (Come Be My Light, 135). Writing to a spiritual director, she pleaded, “Please ask Our Lady to give me her heart—so that I may with greater ease fulfill His desire in me” (171). Mother Teresa recognized that Mary’s heart led her to fulfill perfectly the will of God in her life. Mother Teresa, too, wanted “not to refuse Him anything” (28). And this meant standing with Mary where few would go: at the foot of Jesus’ Cross. Speaking from her own experience, Mother Teresa prayed for a friend: “May Our Lady be a Mother to you and help you to stand beneath the Cross with great love” (326).
What kind of love fills the Immaculate Heart? Mary has the purest and most perfect love because it is the same love that fills the heart of Jesus. Jesus’ love, however, is that love that has Him nailed to the Cross—not an easy love. When Jesus hung on the Cross and groaned, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46), He did not experience a total deprivation of love. Rather, His love for every single human being that existed and will ever exist was so perfect and superabundant that it caused Him to experience everything we lacked by rejecting God. Knowing such rejection of the fount of love was a terribly painful trial. Yet, Jesus on the Cross told us that He thirsts for these souls that reject Him (Jn 19:28).
Mother Teresa, conformed to Jesus by experiencing that same painful love for souls, labored and asked her sisters to labor in order to quench that thirst of Jesus for souls. Writing to an archbishop as she sought the recognition of her new society, Mother Teresa recounted a vision she had of Mary, who would be her great help in this labor of love:
Again that great crowd—I could see great sorrow and suffering in their faces—I was kneeling near Our Lady, who was facing them. I did not see her face but I heard her say “Take care of them—they are mine. Bring them to Jesus—carry Jesus to them. Fear not…Jesus and I will be with you and your children” (99).
To quench the thirst of Jesus by bringing souls to Jesus and Jesus to souls: this is the life of a Missionary of Charity. To be a Missionary of Charity is to be like Mary, as Mother Teresa wrote, “I want only to be a real Missionary of Charity like Our Lady was” (229).
This painful love lived in conformity with Jesus’ Passion is not without its fruit of joy. Mother Teresa understood this: “In our Society we often tell Our Lady she is the Cause of our Joy—because she gave us Jesus. Would that we become the cause of her joy—because we give Jesus to others” (232). A life lived entirely for Jesus is a joyful life despite all the suffering that love demands. As Mother Teresa assures us, “All this will be possible if you keep close to Mary the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. She will guide and protect you and keep you only all for Jesus” (314).
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of our Joy, pray for us! St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (used with permission)