Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at the Chapel of the Missionaries of Charity, Fitzroy,
on Friday, 12th December, 2003, at 10.00am
My dear Sisters and Friends,
Today I am honoured to be with you to celebrate the Beatification of your Foundress, Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Her simple path, reminding us that the fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer - faith, the fruit of faith – love, the fruit of love – service, and the fruit of service is peace, underlines the total abandonment, Jesus, which makes us all children of God.
Because we know that we are sinners, thanking God for Mother’s total giving to Jesus, let us call to mind our sins.
Dear Sisters and Friends,
Malcolm Muggeridge was so profoundly influenced by Mother Teresa that he wrote these words. “For me Mother Teresa of Calcutta embodies Christian love in action. Her face shines with the love of Christ on which her whole life is centred, and her words carry that message to a world, which never needed it so much.”
With profound thanksgiving the Church of Melbourne is united with the Universal Church and the Missionaries of Charity in thanking God for Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her whole life from 1910 until 1997 is an ongoing response to Christ’s invitation. In Loreto she took vows in 1921 and final vows in 1937 and in 1948 a second call was given her to found the Missionaries of Charity.
I believe that the Missionaries of Charity have been so successful in the modern world, particularly after the Second Vatican Council, because they almost uniquely have integrated properly contemplation and action.
Unless we know Christ in the Eucharist we cannot see him in the poor. It is obvious that at first Mother’s vision was primarily an active one: the Sisters were to spend themselves on service to the poorest of the poor. And yet this grew to include a more contemplative quality. In 1954 there was only one hour a week for the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Later fifteen minutes a day in 1973, then one hour a day, and currently for the Contemplative Sisters there are at least two hours a day in adoration.
The genius is that it is from our contemplation with Christ that we will find the compassion to minister to the poor. The broken Jesus of the Eucharist satisfies the hunger of broken men and women. She says, “Jesus feeds us with his love; he becomes our spiritual nourishment in the Eucharist, and we feed him with compassion in the disguise of the distress of the poor.” Jesus thirsts for us and our love as he did on the cross with a love, which is infinite.
Just like the adoring angels in heaven ceaselessly sing the praises of God, so chastity, obedience, and charity towards the poor ceaselessly quench the thirsting God by their love and by the love of the souls they bring to him.”
You as Sisters remember something, which is often forgotten. God has chosen us. We have not chosen him. And the particular mission of the Sisters is to labour at the salvation of the poorest of the poor not only in the slums but all over the world wherever they may be, by living the love of God in prayer and action in a life marked by the simplicity and humility of the Gospel, by loving Jesus under the appearance of bread by serving him in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, both materially and spiritually, recognising in them and restoring to them the image and likeness of God.
My prayer as I join you in thanking God today is that in the words of Mother Teresa you will be “carriers of God’s love, ready to go in haste like Mary in search of souls, burning lights that give light to all men, souls consumed with one desire, Jesus, fearless in doing the things he did, ready to accept joyously the need to die daily, happy to undertake any labour and toil and gladly to make any sacrifice involved in our missionary life.
With Mother Teresa we seek to become a true and fruitful branch of the vine, Jesus, by accepting him in our lives as the truth to be told; as the life to be lived; as the light to be lighted; as the love to be loved; as the way to be walked; as the joy to be given; as the peace to be spread; as the sacrifice to be offered, in our families and within our neighbourhood.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.