In a matter of four days, at the beginning of this ninth month of September, we had the joy of celebrating two great feast days of two great people. Both of them were women and handmaids of the Lord. Both of them inspire us magnificently as to how we can be truly Christ’s disciples. One of them, whose feast we celebrated on Saturday 5 September, is St Teresa of Calcutta, or as we affectionately know her, Mother Teresa. Whereas the other one is Mary, the Mother of God and Our Heavenly Mother, whose feast we celebrate on Tuesday 8 September. Is there a relationship between these two special saints? Sure that there is!
In fact, the more one delves deeper into the wonderful stories and teachings of Mother Teresa the more one can really appreciate her deep love towards Mary. In the Mother of God, Mother Teresa clearly saw that empathic and fully compassionate woman who kept loving Her Son so much that she humbly and generously received His testamentary will of being our Mother as He was dying on the Cross! And Mary does fulfil Her Son’s wish not from a legal standpoint of course but from her tender motherly heart she has for you and for me! Mary loves us so much that, by her loving closeness, she wants to transfer on us the immense richness of grace she receives continually from the Father, through Her Son in the Holy Spirit. Feeling herself as being Mary’s loving daughter through Jesus’ will, Mother Teresa always looked to Our Lady for guidance, strength and hope.
Let us savour Mother Teresa’s thoughts and prayers on who Mary is not just for her but also as she should be for us! For Mother Teresa Mary is the full of grace. Such a grace was made visible in her humility and generous service. She writes:
Let us not forget how Mary set out in haste in the hill country of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth. God chose Mary because she was full of grace and yet so full of humility. The coming of Jesus into her life generated within her great zeal and charity—zeal to bring Jesus to others through works of charity. When the fullness of grace became one with the Word of God in her, the fruit of that union was Mary’s service of love to her neighbor. She didn’t dwell on the Son of God within her or on the joy and sorrow that were to be hers as the Mother of God and men.
Mary’s self-giving love has always fascinated Mother Teresa. The latter knew perfectly well that if she wanted to satiate the thrist of Jesus in the poor she had to choose Mary as her guidance. In fact, on the Cross, no one could satiate Jesus’ thirst for souls other than His Mother’s loving faithfulness to Him and to the entire human family which He had wisely entrusted into her maternal care. This is clearly attested in Mother Teresa’s covenant of consecration to Mary for the exclusive purpose of satiating the thirst of Jesus in the marginalized and the poorest of the poor.
Mary, Mother of Jesus and my mother, moved by a burning desire to live in the closest union with you possible in this life, so as to more surely and fully come to union with your Son, and with you to discover the mystery of his thirst, I resolve to keep this covenant of consecration with you as faithfully and as generously as I am able to with your help. Since Jesus from the cross gave you to me, I take you as my own. And since Jesus gave me to you, take me as your own. I entrust myself and all I do entirely to you, that you may share your life and heart with me. I give you complete power over me and all that belongs to me, both material and spiritual, that as a mother you may nourish Jesus’s thirst within me.
Mary, I depend on you totally as a child on its mother, that in return you may possess me, protect me, and transform me into Jesus. May the light of your faith dispel the darkness of my mind; may your profound humility take the place of my pride; may your contemplation replace the distractions of my wandering imagination; and may your virtues take the place of my sins. Lead me deeper into the mystery of the cross that you may share your experience of Jesus’s thirst with me.
O most pure heart of Mary, allow me to enter your heart, to share your interior life. You see and know my needs, help me to do “whatever Jesus tells me”… that my human needs may be changed into thirst for God alone. I desire to discover, satiate, and proclaim Jesus’s thirst, but I know all too well my weakness, nothingness, and sin. Mother, may this covenant of consecration with you be the hidden strength in my life that you may use me to satiate your Son to the full. Let this be my only joy…and you will be the cause of that joy. Sweet Lord, thy thirst for souls I satiate with my burning love, all for thee. My chalice will be filled with love, sacrifices made all for thee. Evermore, I will quench thy thirst, Lord. Evermore, I will quench thy thirst, Lord, for souls; in union with Mary, our Queen, I will quench thy thirst.
In this covenant of consecration to Mary we eminently notice Mother Teresa’s humility precisely in depending upon Mary’s direction to Her Son Jesus. This covenant of consecration, which came from Mother Teresa’s ardent heart for Christ, is thus another version of the famous message adopted by many saints which left their journey of holiness under the protection of the Queen of Saints. Under Mary’s guidance Mother Teresa knew very well that she could grow in her faith; be strengthened in the virtue of all virtues, humility; go deeper into contemplation and be fortified in the Mother of God’s school of virtues. Mother Teresa also ventured to call upon Mary to be her teacher in recognizing, accepting and participating in that singular act of love of satiating Jesus’ thirst in the poor. The logical consequence of being consecrated to Mary is certainly that of serving like her, the poor. Hence, Mother Teresa meditates:
We have dedicated ourselves to give wholehearted free service to the poor. Do they rejoice in our service? When they see us, do their hearts leap for joy as Saint John’s did in his mother’s womb when Mary brought Jesus into his house? Do we really go to the poor filled with Jesus, as Mary was, always ready to give only Jesus to the poor? Is our service to the poor devoted and tender? Do we serve them as Mary served Elizabeth?
Mother Theresa’s profound love for Mary makes us conclude that No Mary, No Jesus. She herself relates this beautiful, enlightening and enriching spiritual experience she had to support her deep-seated faith conviction:
A gentleman of the Protestant faith, the son-in-law of Malcolm Muggeridge, told me: “I love you, your work, everything I see, but there is one thing I do not understand: Our Lady. You are full of Mary.” I replied to him: “No Mary, no Jesus—no mother, no son.” A few months later he sent me a card with these words printed in big letters: “I believe, no Mary, no Jesus! This has changed my life.”
From these childlike reflections, given to me by the Holy Spirit, through Mary’s prayers, I can easily understand why Mother Teresa would strongly and unceasingly insist: Cling to the Rosary as the creeper clings to the tree – for without Our Lady we cannot stand.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap