Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mother Teresa's Daily Prayer

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.
—Mother Teresa of Calcutta

My choir is singing an adaptation of this prayer in our concert on Sunday. I had never heard it before, although I'm sure it must be famous. I was struck by the simple beauty of the words. What an unselfish wish—to desire nothing more than to be totally subsumed by the Spirit of God. Yet, Mother Teresa was wise enough to realize that by letting herself be filled with the presence of Jesus, she was in fact becoming the truest version of herself. Like Mother Teresa, I was created to be like Jesus, so when I let him fill me up, I am closest to what I was meant to be. By denying the peripheral parts of myself—my transitory needs, desires, and emotional baggage—I draw closer to my own true core. I want others to be able to see God in me because I was created in His image in the first place.

The idea that I am most myself when I am filled with the Spirit of God may seem like a paradox. Still, even when I am filled with the Spirit, I am still entirely myself. I am distinct from my brothers and sisters in Christ, even when they too are filled with the Spirit. I remain unique, but I am no longer driven by my own personality traits—instead I am guided by the will of God. God's power and love is channeled through my singular being, and at my best I would be filled with the Spirit of God and yet fully myself simultaneously, just as Jesus was God and man simultaneously. 

I wish I understood how to be what Mother Teresa describes in her prayer, but I don't. I don't know how to be so much like God that people will look at me and stop seeing my flawed human form. After all, I am not the agent who can make this happen. That's why Mother Teresa had to pray—she knew that God was the one who would have to take the action to fill her with His spirit. She even needed God's help to be open to receiving His Spirit when He chose to bestow it. I am the same. I can no more call the Holy Spirit to me than I can summon rain. And yet, when the Spirit comes, I want to be ready. I want to make the most of it so that I can be a radiance to the rest of the world. I can't imagine being anything more beautiful than that.

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