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The Eucharist or The Holy Communion

The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “One Heart Full of Love,” edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado

 

1. Who are the poorest of the poor? They are the unwanted, the unloved, the ignored, the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the leper, and the alcoholic in our midst.

        To live out such a calling every Missionary of Charity must have a life focused on the Eucharist. We see Christ in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread, while we see Him in the poor under the distressing disguise of poverty. The Eucharist and the poor are nothing more than the same love of God. To be able to see and love Jesus in the poor, we must be one with Christ through a life of deep prayer. That is why the sisters start their day with Mass and meditation. And they finish it with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Communion with Christ gives us our strength, our joy, and our love. (26-27)

 

2. In the beginning of our congregation, we used to have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament once a week. At our last general meeting or convocation, there was a unanimous consensus on the part of all the sisters that there should be daily adoration. We now have an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament every day. Upon returning home, we spend an hour alone worshipping Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I believe that this has been the greatest gift to our congregation. It is something that has worked important changes in our lives. It has brought us closer together and made us more understanding. It has helped us to know our poor better. It has fostered a greater tenderness and love in us. We owe it all to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We cannot be co-workers or Missionaries of Charity without an intense life of prayer. (51)

 

3. Christ made Himself the Bread of Life. He wanted to give Himself to us in a very special way---in a simple, tangible way---because it is hard for human beings to love God whom they cannot see. He made Himself the Bread of Life to satisfy our love for God, our hunger for God. We have been created for greater things. We have been created in God’s image and likeness. We have been created to love and to be loved.

        Jesus put a condition on His self-giving: “If you do not eat My flesh and drink My blood, you will have no life in you. You will be unable to love or to give.” The condition is very simple and clear, even a child is able to eat bread. Bread is the simplest food for people everywhere, and it is usually the cheapest. Well, then, Christ became the Bread of Life.

        But it seems that this act of self-giving wasn’t enough for Him. He wanted to give something more. He wanted to pass on to us the opportunity to give of ourselves to Him, so we could turn our love for Him into living deeds after eating the Bread of Life. To accomplish that, He became the hungry one, the naked one, stripped of all earthly goods and comforts. Christ says: “For I was hungry and you gave Me to eat. I was homeless and you offered Me shelter. I was illiterate and you taught Me to read. I was alone and you kept Me company. You gave Me your understanding and your love.”

        Christ made this kind of total self-giving a condition for life. He will judge us at the hour of our death. We will be judged by what we have done, by what we have been, to the poor. He says to us: “I was hungry and you did not feed Me. I hungered for bread, for justice, and for human dignity; yet you passed Me by! I was naked and stripped of every necessity, denied justice and even the simple recognition that I am just like you, created by the same loving God to love and to be loved. But I was left for dead, alone and dejected. I was thrown out into the streets, unwanted, unloved, and ignored.

        The lepers, the blind, the invalid, and the handicapped are asking if you notice them, if you recognise them in your midst. This is the reason why I am speaking to you. You need to become aware of these people and their needs. Do you know them? (2-3)

 

4. To be able to do something beautiful for God, we need Jesus. Jesus became the Bread of Life so that you and I, and even a small child, can receive Him and have life. In a special way we need the Bread of Life to know the poor, to love them, and serve them. Each one of us needs to encounter Jesus. Without Him, we can do nothing. We need the Bread of Life to live. Jesus said very clearly, “If you do not eat My flesh and drink My blood, you will not have eternal life.”

        This is the most wonderful surprise for all of us. To satisfy our love for God, Jesus made Himself the Bread of Life. Let’s marvel at God’s hunger for us. He makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the dying one. In that way He gives us the opportunity to feed Him, to clothe Him, and to aid Him through our service to the poorest of the poor.

        Here a beautiful standard for judgment presents itself. We have to become increasingly aware that the poor are the hope of humanity, for we will be judged by how we have treated the poor. We will have to face this reality when we are summoned before the throne of God: “I was hungry. I was naked. I was homeless. And whatever you did to the least of My brethren, you did to Me.” (49-50)

 

5. Christ will not deceive us. That is why our lives must be woven around the Eucharist. The Christ who gives of Himself to us under the appearance of bread and the Christ who is hidden under the distressing disguise of the poor, is the same Christ. Because of this, we missionaries are not simply social workers. A Christian cannot say, “I am a social worker.” It isn’t just doing a little social work. If we Christian men and women believe that we are feeding a hungry Christ and clothing a naked Christ, we are contemplatives from the very center of our homes, our lives, and our world. That is why I define our Missionaries of Charity as contemplatives in the heart of the world twenty-four hours a day.

   Christ has not deceived us. He has made this a condition for our future life in heaven. “Come, blessed of My Father, for I was hungry, I was naked, homeless. . .and you did it unto Me.” (6)

 

6. When Jesus came into the world, He loved it so much that He gave His life for it. He wanted to satisfy our hunger for God. And what did He do? He made Himself the Bread of Life. He became small, fragile, and defenseless for us. Bits of bread can be so small that even a baby can chew it, even a dying person can eat it. He became the Bread of Life to satisfy our hunger for God, our hunger for love.

        As if that were not enough, He Himself took on our human condition. He became hungry. He became naked. He became the poor one dying in our streets, so that we could satisfy our hunger for human love by loving Him. This is not something which is imaginary. It is not something out of the ordinary. God comes to us in human love so that we can love Him with our hearts. He wants us to love Him in those who are hungry, in those who are naked, in those who are homeless. This is what you and I are called to do. We must learn to pray steadfastly of this call.

        The work that each one of you carries out on your families for those you love is an expression of your love for God. Love starts at home. For your love to be real, it cannot waver at home. (91)

 

7.  Jesus loved us, and He still loves us. He loved and still loves the lepers, the destitute who are dying, the alcoholics, the unwanted, and the unloved. He loves them deeply. He died for them, and He doesn’t stop saying: “Love one another as I have loved you. As the Father loves Me, love one another. I have loved you as My Father loves me.”

   The Father loved Jesus and gave Him to us. Jesus made Himself the Bread of Life, so that we could eat of Him and have life. He wants to satisfy our hunger for love and for God.

        As if that were not enough, Jesus became the hungry one, so that you and I could satisfy His hunger, cover His nakedness, and offer Him shelter. He said, “You did it to Me. I was hungry. I was naked. I was homeless.” The forgotten man in the street, the one we picked up in the streets of Calcutta, was Jesus bearing that man’s appearance. It was Jesus who was hungry. I will never forget the man who was half eaten by worms when we found him. He was tenderly carried to the Home for Dying Destitute. On the way, he murmured, “I have lived like an animal, but now I am going to die loved and surrounded with care.” That is how he died and went home to God. That was Jesus under the disguise of the poor. (39-40)

 

8. Jesus is the Bread of Life that the church offers me. Only through Him, in Him, and with him can I live. He said, “If you do not eat My flesh and drink My blood, you will have no life within you.” I know that He made Himself the Bread of Life in order to satisfy my hunger for Him and for His love. He, in turn, made Himself the hungry one to satisfy my hunger for Him through my love and service. He gives me the opportunity to feed Him by feeding those who are hungry, to clothe Him by clothing those who are naked, to heal Him by caring for those who are sick, and to offer Him shelter by housing those who are homeless and unwanted. This vision is what makes a Missionary of Charity a contemplative in the heart of the world.

        Since we can touch Jesus in the poor, we can be in His presence twenty-four hours a day. He says, “And you did it unto Me. I was hungry. I was naked. I was homeless. . .and you did it unto Me.” Jesus in Eucharist and Jesus in the poor, under the appearance of bread and under the appearance of the poor, makes us contemplatives in the heart of the world.

        We are entirely at the disposal of the church. We profess a deep, personal love for the Holy Father. We surrender ourselves completely to be united with him as carriers of God’s love. Pray for us that we don’t spoil the work God has called us to. (16-17)

 

9. Each time we receive Holy Communion we are filled with Jesus and we must, like our Lady, leave in haste and search out that run away child and bring him home. We must bring him to where there is love, joy, peace---to the place where God is with us.(23-24)

 

10. Our Lady’s call was to accept Jesus into her life by responding to God, “Do unto me according to your word.” She submitted to being the Lord’s handmaid. She immediately went to share Jesus with St John the Baptist and his mother. Today the same Jesus, the living Jesus transformed into the Bread of Life, still comes to us. When He comes to us we too, just like Mary, must go in haste to give Him to others.

        He became the Bread of Life to satisfy our hunger for God, but that was not enough for Him. He became the hungry one, the naked one, and the homeless one. That way we, in turn, can satisfy His great love for us. He is still saying, “You did it to Me.” We can be with Him twenty-four hours a day. (25)

 

11. The reason why the vocation of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers and sisters and their co-workers is so beautiful is that it is a vocation for everyone. All of us have been given the opportunity to be completely possessed by Jesus. The work He has entrusted to you and me is nothing more than putting our love for Him into action. What you do, I cannot do. What I do, you cannot do. But, together, you and I can do something beautiful for God.

        That is why Jesus made Himself the Bread of Life, to satisfy our hunger for God and for His love. I believe that was not enough for Him. Jesus made Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the destitute one who is dying. He said, “I was hungry, naked, sick, homeless. . ,and you did it to Me.” That is why I say that the Brothers and Sisters of Charity are not simply social workers. They are contemplatives in the heart of the world because they are in contact with the body of Christ twenty-four hours a day.

     The truth applies to each of you also: in your homes and in every aspect of your lives. Jesus is still saying, “I was hungry.” In your homes you have a staving Christ, a naked Christ, a homeless Christ. Are you capable of recognizing Him in your own homes? Do you realize that He is right there in your midst?

      How many times does a child run away from home because there is no one there to love him! How often it is that the elderly in the family are not at home. Instead, they are in nursing homes because no one has the time for them. The poor are right in your own homes. Are you aware of that? (21)

    

     The following passages are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book "Jesus, The Word to be spoken," compiled by Father Angelo D. Scolozzi.

 

1. Try to increase your love for the holy Mass and the Passion of Christ by accepting with joy all the little sacrifices that come daily. Do not pass by the small gifts, for they are very precious for yourself and for others.  (June 21)

 

2. How tenderly Jesus speaks when he gives himself to his own in Holy Communion. “My flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” Oh, what could my Jesus do more than give me his flesh for my food? No, not even God could do more nor show a greater love for me. (June 23)

 

3. Holy Communion, as the word itself implies, is the intimate union of Jesus and our soul and body. If we want to have life and have it more abundantly, we must live on the flesh of our Lord. The saints understood so well that they could spend hours in preparation and still more in thanksgiving. This needs no explanation, for who could explain “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God”? “How incomprehensible are his judgments!” cried St. Paul, “And how unsearchable his ways, for who has known the mind of the Lord?” (June 24)

 

4. In the Scripture we read of the tenderness of God for the world, and we read that God loved the world so much that he gave his Son Jesus to come to be like us and to bring us the good news that God is love, that God loves you and loves me. God wants us to love each other as he loves each one of us. We all know, when we look at the cross, how Jesus loved us. When we look at the Eucharist we know how he loves us now. That’s why he made himself the bread of life to satisfy our hunger for his love, and then, as if this was not enough for him, he made himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, so that you and I can satisfy his hunger for our human love. For we have been created for that. We have been created to love and to be loved. (June 26)

 

5. Where will you get the joy of loving?---in the Eucharist, Holy Communion. Jesus has made him self the bread of life to give us life. Night and day, he is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that adoration. In our congregation, we used to have adoration once a week for one hour, and then in 1973, we decided to have adoration one hour every day. We have much work to do. Our homes for the sick and dying destitute are full everywhere. And from the time we started having adoration every day, our love for Jesus became more intimate, our love for each other more understanding, our love for the poor more compassionate, and we have double the number of vocations. God has blessed us with many wonderful vocations. (June 27)

 

6. Look at the tabernacle--—see how much this love means now. Do I know that? Is my heart so clean that I can see Jesus there? And to make it easy for you and for me to see Jesus, he made himself the bread of life, so that we can receive life, so that we may have a life of peace, a life of joy. Find Jesus, and you will find peace. (June 28)

 

7. The coming of Jesus at Bethlehem brought joy to the world and to every human heart. The same Jesus comes again and again in our hearts during Holy Communion. He wants to give the same joy and peace. May his coming this Christmas bring to each one of us that peace and joy that he desires to give. Let us pray much for this grace of peace and joy in our own heart, in our communities, in our Society, and in the church. (Dec 25)

 

       The passages below are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “Bread for the Journey,” published in 1997.

 

1. The Pillars of the Church (Oct 15)

       The two main sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist, are the spiritual pillars of the Church. They are not simply instruments by which the Church exercises its ministry. They are not just means by which we become and remain members of the Church but belong to the essence of the Church. Without these sacraments there is no Church. The Church is the body of Christ fashioned by baptism and the Eucharist. When people are baptized in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and when they gather around the table of Christ and receive His Body and Blood, they become the people of God, called the Church.

 

2. Baptism and Eucharist (Sept 24)

       Sacraments are very specific events in which God touches us through creation and transforms us into living Christs. The two main sacraments are baptism and the Eucharist. In baptism water is the way to transformation. In the Eucharist it is the bread and wine. The most ordinary things in life---water, bread, and wine---become the sacred way by which God comes to us.

       These sacraments are actual events. Water, bread, and wine are not simply reminders of God’s love; they bring God to us. In baptism we are set free from the slavery of sin and dressed with Christ. In the Eucharist, Christ Himself becomes our food and drink.

 

3. Eucharist, the Sacrament of Communion (Sept 30)

       Baptism opens the door to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sacrament through which Jesus enters into an intimate, permanent communion with us. It is the sacrament of the table. It is the sacrament of food and drink. It is the sacrament of daily nurture. While baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event, the Eucharist can be a monthly, weekly, or even daily occurrence. Jesus gave us the Eucharist in memory of His life and death. Not a memory that simply makes us think of Him but a memory that makes us members of His body. That is why Jesus on the evening before He died took bread, saying, “This is My Body,” and took the cup, saying, “This is My Blood.” By eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ, we become one with Him.

 

4. Jesus Living Within Us (Oct 6)

       When we gather around the Eucharistic table and eat from the same bread and drink from the same cup, saying, “This is the Body and Blood of Christ,” we become the living Christ, here and now.

       Our faith in Jesus is not our belief that Jesus, the Son of God, lived long ago, performed great miracles, presented wise teachings, died for us on the cross, and rose from the grave. It first of all means that we fully accept the truth that Jesus lives within us and fulfills His divine ministry in and through us. This spiritual knowledge of the Christ living in us is what allows us to affirm fully the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection as historic events. It is the Christ in us who reveals to us the Christ in history.

 

5. Jesus Living Among Us (Oct 7)

       The Eucharist is the place where Jesus becomes most present to us because He becomes not only the Christ living within us but also the Christ living among us. Just as the disciples at Emmaus who had recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread discovered a new intimacy between themselves and found the courage to return to their friends, we who have received the Body and Blood of Jesus will find a new unity among ourselves. As we realize that Christ lives within us, we also come to realize that Christ lives among us and makes us into a body of people witnessing together to the presence of Christ in the world.

 

6. Becoming the Mystical Body of Christ (Oct 13)

       As we gather around the Eucharistic table and make the death and resurrection of Jesus our own by sharing in the “bread of life” and the “cup of salvation,” we become together the living body of Christ.

       The Eucharist is the sacrament by which we become one body. Becoming one body is not becoming a team or a group or even a fellowship. Becoming one body is becoming the body of Christ. It is becoming the living Lord, visibly present in the world. It is---as often has been said---becoming the mystical Body of Christ. But mystical and real are the same in the realm of the Spirit.

 

7. The Sacrament of Unity (Oct 8)

       The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. It makes us into one body. The apostle Paul writes, “As there is one loaf, so we, although there are many of us, are one single body, for we all share in the one loaf.” (1 Corinthians 10:17)

       The Eucharist is much more than a place where we celebrate our unity in Christ. The Eucharist creates this unity. By eating from the same bread and drinking from the same cup, we become the body of Christ present to the world. Just as Christ becomes really present to us in the breaking of the bread, we become really present to one another as brothers and sisters of Christ, members of the same body. Thus, the Eucharist not only signifies unity but also creates it.

 

8. Breaking Through the Boundaries (Oct 10)

       The sacrament of the Eucharist, as the sacrament of the presence of Christ among and within us, has the unique power to unite us into one body, irrespective of age, color, race or gender, emotional condition, economic status, or social background. The Eucharist breaks through all these boundaries and creates the one body of Christ, living in the world as a vibrant sign of unity and community.

       Jesus prays fervently to His Father, “May they all be one, just as Father, You are in Me and I am in You, so that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me.” (John 17:21) The Eucharist is the sacrament of this divine unity lived out among all people.

 

9. Christ’s Body, Our Body (Oct 9)

       When we gather for the Eucharist we gather in the Name of Jesus, who is calling us together to remember His death and resurrection in the breaking of the bread. There He is truly among us. “Where two or three meet in My name,” He says, “I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

  The presence of Jesus among us and in the gifts of bread and wine are the same presence. As we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread, we recognize Him also in our brothers and sisters. As we give one another the bread, saying, “This is the Body of Christ,” we give ourselves to one another, saying, “We are the Body of Christ.” It is one and the same giving. It is one and the same body, it is one and the same Christ.

 

10. Really Present (Oct 14)

       Where is Jesus today? Jesus is where those who believe in Him and express that belief in baptism and the Eucharist become one body. As long as we think about the body of believers as a group of people who share a common faith in Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus remains an inspirational historical figure. But when we realize that the body of Jesus fashions in the Eucharist is His body, we can start to see what real presence is. Jesus, who is present in the gifts of His Body and Blood, becomes present in the body of believers that is formed by these gifts. We who receive the Body of Christ become the living Christ.

 

11. Jesus, Our Food and Drink (Oct 4)

       Jesus is the Word of God, who came from heaven, was born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, and became a human being. This happened in a specific place at a specific time. But each day when we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus comes down from heaven, takes bread and wine, and by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes our food and drink. Indeed, through the Eucharist, God’s incarnation continues to happen at any time and at any place.

       Sometimes we might think, “I wish I had been there with Jesus and His apostles long ago!” But Jesus is closer to us now than He was to His friends. Today He is our daily bread!

 

12. Jesus Gives Himself to Us (Oct 1)

       When we invite friends for a meal, we do much more than offer them food for their bodies. We offer friendship, fellowship, good conversation, intimacy, and closeness. When we say, “Help yourself. . .take some more. . .don’t be shy. . . have another glass,” we offer our guests not only our food and our drink but also ourselves. A spiritual bond grows, and we become food and drink for one another.

       In the most complete and perfect way, this happens when Jesus gives Himself to us in the Eucharist as food and drink. By offering us His Body and Blood, Jesus offers us the most intimate communion possible. It is a divine communion.

 

 

13. A Place of Vulnerability and Trust (Oct 3)

       When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another. We cannot have a meal together in peace with guns hanging over our shoulders and pistols attached to our belts. When we break bread together we leave our arms---whether they are physical or mental---at the door and enter into a place of mutual vulnerability and trust.

       The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal. When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.

 

14. The Companion of Our Soul (Oct 5)

       When the two disciples recognized Jesus as He brake the bread for them in their house in Emmaus, He “vanished from their sight.”(Like 24:31) The recognition and the disappearance of Jesus are one and the same event. Why? Because the disciples recognized that their Lord Jesus, the Christ, now lives in them. . .that they have become Christ-bearers. Therefore, Jesus no longer sits across the table from them as the stranger, the guest, the friend with whom they can speak and from whom they can receive good counsel. He has become one with them. He has given them His own Spirit of Love. Their companion on the journey has become the companion of their souls. They are alive, yet it is no longer them, but Christ living in them (see Galatians 2:20).

 

15. Deepening the Passage of Baptism (Oct 12)

       In and through the celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus’ death and resurrection become a reality for us here and now. As we eat and drink from the Body and Blood of Christ, our mortal bodies become united with the risen Christ. Thus, our deaths, like Jesus’ death, mean not destruction but passage to new life.

       In this way the Eucharist deepens and strengthens in us the passage that we first made through baptism. The Eucharist is the sacrament that allows us to appropriate fully our baptismal grace.

 

  The following passages are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “With Burning Heart” published in 1994.

 

Introduction (11-13)

       Every day I celebrate the Eucharist. Sometimes in my parish church with hundreds of people present, sometimes in the Daybreak chapel with members of my community, sometimes in a hotel suite with a few friends, and sometimes in my father’s living room with just him and me. Very few days pass without my saying, “Lord, have mercy,” without the daily readings and a few reflections, without a profession of faith, without sharing the body and blood of Christ, and without a prayer for a fruitful day.

       Still I wonder: Do I know what I am doing? Do those who stand or sit around the table with me know what they are part of? Does something really happen that shapes our daily lives---even though it is so familiar? And what about all those who are not there with me? Is the Eucharist still something they know about, think about, or desire? How is this daily celebration connected with the daily life of ordinary men and women, be they present or not? Is it more than a lovely ceremony, a soothing ritual, or a comfortable routine? And finally, does the Eucharist give life, life that has the power of overcoming death?

      All of these questions are very real to me, they constantly beg for an answer. Oh, yes, I have had answers, but it seems that they don’t last very long in my quickly changing world. The Eucharist gives meaning to my being in the world, but as the world changes, does the Eucharist continue to give it meaning? I have read many books about the Eucharist. They were written ten, twenty, thirty, even forty years ago. Although they contain many deep insights, they no longer help me to experience the Eucharist as the center of my life. Today, the old questions are there again: How can all of my life be Eucharistic, and how can the daily celebration of the Eucharist make it that way? I have to come up with my own response. Without such a response, the Eucharist may become little more than a beautiful tradition.

       This little book is an attempt to speak to myself and to my friends about the Eucharist and to weave a network of connections between the daily celebration of the Eucharist and our daily human experience. We enter every celebration with a contrite heart and pray the Kyrie Eleison. We listen to the Word---the scriptural readings and the homily---we profess our faith, we give to God the fruits of the earth and the work of human hands and receive from God the body and blood of Jesus, and finally we are sent into the world with the task of renewing the face of the earth. The Eucharistic event reveals the deepest human experiences, those of sadness, attentiveness, invitation, intimacy, and engagement. It summarizes the life we are called to live in the Name of God. Only when we recognize the rich network of connections between the Eucharist and our life in the world can the Eucharist be “worldly” and our life “Eucharistic.”

       As the basis for my reflections on the Eucharist and the Eucharistic life, I will use the story of the two disciples who walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus and back. As the story speaks about loss, presence, invitation, communion, and mission it embraces the five main aspects of the Eucharistic celebration.

       Together they form a movement, the movement from resentment to gratitude, that is, from a hardened heart to a grateful heart. While the Eucharist expresses this spiritual movement in a very succinct way, the Eucharistic life is one in which we are invited to experience and affirm this movement in every moment of our daily existence. In this little book I hope to develop the five steps of this movement from resentment to gratitude in such a way that it becomes clear that what we celebrate and what we are called to live are essentially one and the same.

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