L S F (Laudetur Sacra Familia)
LAY MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY
ASK MOTHER TERESA
"HOW CAN I BECOME A TRUE DISCIPLE OF
This is a question that every Christian should be asking
in the depths of the heart.
We may have been "good Catholics", all our lives and
never have pondered the deep meaning of the Holy Scriptures like "Be still
and know that I am God" (Ps 46: 10), or "Be holy for I am holy" (Lv 19:
2), or "You must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt
Over the ages there have been many movements in the
Church which were designed to help rank-and-file Church members to grow in
holiness, and one of the more modern of those movements is the one which
follows the way of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It is called "THE LAY
MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY", or "LMC" for short.
The point is simple enough: we are ALL called to be
saints! (The English word "saint" is taken directly from the French word
for "holy" which, in term, comes from the Latin word for "holy" –
"Holy", linguistically speaking, simply means "different,
transcendent, set apart, beyond the causes and estimation of this world"
(cf. Fr. Benedict Groeschel "Healing the Original Wound"). Etymologically
it means "whole" or "healthy", which is also a good way to think about
being holy. But Fr. Benedict’s phrase says it very well: GOD is the One
who is wholly "Other" and He calls all His children to be like Him, "…made
in the image and likeness of God".
Jesus was "different" and He wants His disciples to be as
Himself, "set apart" from the materialistic thinking of the society.
This thought, taken out of the context, could lead people
to mere humanistic philanthropy, (or even snobbishness) but Jesus gives us
the additional motivation of doing it for and to HIM when He says:
"As often as you do it to one of the least of my brethren YOU DO IT TO ME"
(Mt 25: 40).
Mother Teresa has lived out those words in her life, and,
without her seeking it, has won the world’s admiration. Some people who
admired her work and who saw her as a role model sought spiritual
direction from Fr. Sebastian, a Missionary of Charity priest stationed in
Rome. From their prayer and contemplation came the formation of the group
now known as the Lay Missionaries of Charity.
BUT WHO ARE WE? AND WHAT DO WE DO?
(The Identity, Mission and Vocation of the
WE ARE LAY ROMAN CATHOLICS – a
MOVEMENT OF CONSECRATED PERSONS WITH A SPECIFIC VOCATION AND MISSION:
Missionaries of Charity following the charism of Mother Teresa;
missionaries of love, doing small things with a great Love – with Jesus’
WE WISH TO BE A GIFT – By the
gift of ourselves we want, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to quench
the infinite thirst of Jesus on the Cross for love of souls, by the
profession, renewed every day, of vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and
a fourth vow of Whole-hearted and Free Service to the Poorest of the Poor,
according to the Statutes and the spirituality of Mother Teresa of
OUR SPECIAL MISSION – To work for
the salvation and the sanctification of the members of our own families,
for that of our Movement and of the Poorest of the Poor of the whole
OUR SPIRIT – is one of total
abandonment to God’s will, with child-like trust in His fatherly care, and
readiness for service in profound humility after the example of Jesus,
Mary and Joseph. As consecrated persons we are called to become adorers of
the Father in spirit and in truth.
THE MODEL OF OUR LIFE – and
source of our inspiration is the Holy Family of Nazareth, our Patron, with
the purpose of transforming our own families into "true sanctuaries of
OUR VOWS (by which we are
consecrated) – We choose Poverty, to become rich in Christ; Chastity, to
express and live through marriage (or celibacy) the one mystery of the
covenant of God with His People; Obedience, to say "yes" to the sacred
order of existence established by God in this world, and for the love of
doing the will of God; and Whole-hearted and Free Service to the Poorest
of the Poor, to serve Jesus in what Mother calls "the distressing disguise
of the poorest of the poor", remembering His words: "You did it to
OUR VOCATION – is simply to
communicate to others the influence of God’s love, the peace and joy we
experience in our way of remembering and practising the words of Mother
Teresa: "Love begins at home, in our movement, in our family" and "works
of love are works of peace".
THROUGH PRAYER – we want to
maintain our intimate union with Christ, with Mary, the "Cause of our
joy", and with the Church, being aware that it is not possible to engage
in the direct apostolate without being a soul of
THE STRUCTURE – of our Movement
is the Cross. Since it bore Our Saviour, it leads to salvation; and so it
must also be for us in all our works.
OUR PENANCE – must be
characterised by renunciation and joy, sacrifice and magnanimity,
discipline and spiritual freedom, since it is deeply rooted in the mystery
of the Cross and Resurrection. In our apostolate the ‘money’ to buy souls
is suffering, accepted with love.
WORDS FOR OUR LIFE – We make our
own the words of Mother Teresa: "Be only all for Jesus through Mary. Let
us be pure and humble like Mary, and we are sure to be holy like Jesus".
She prays: "Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me; I
love you". "Mary, Mother of Jesus, be my Mother now". Mother also says:
"Let us be ‘One Heart’ in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the
Immaculate Heart of Mary, thus making the Church more fully present in the
world of today".
To make vows is an act of consecration and promise to
God. You should be well prepared and mentally ready. Reconciliation is
necessary prior to making the commitment. It should not cause concern to
make vows, for instead you will grow and become a more devout person to
God. A formation period of a minimum of one year is required, after being
invited to become an aspirant. This year of discernment is not only for
the aspirant-candidate alone, but also for the Spiritual Director,
Missionaries of Charity (if in your area), and LMCs in vows, for they will
also be involved in the decision of acceptance. In many occasions, the
aspirant will need more than one year of preparation, and in some
circumstances, it might be decided that the aspirant is not a candidate.
The vows are private (not recited in a Church before a congregation). A
special formula is read during a Mass and before a Priest in a Chapel or
Church, with special guests and families. Two months ahead, you must
submit your intentions in writing to the LMC group’s Spiritual Director.
You must state who you are, what your involvements are at present, and
also explain why you want to make vows. A similar letter is also written
annually at the time of renewal of vows.
The group gets together as decided by its members, if
possible weekly or a minimum of once a month, for Holy Hour, Liturgy of
the Hours, Rosary, Reflection and Instruction.
If possible, the first Saturday of the month should also
be observed as a day of prayer and include Mass (half a day if instruction
is not included).
We celebrate the feast of our Patron Saint, the Holy
family of Nazareth, on the Sunday before the feast of Christ the King, in
November. A Mass is celebrated, where we repeat our vows as a group (R
10), and after praying the Holy Family novena on the previous nine days.
Our family should be included in the novena and in the Mass.
By Mother Teresa’s special request, our homes should be
enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of
Father Sebastian has reaffirmed that the Statutes
represent the ideal. They contain recommended prayers and practices. They
point the direction in which LMC members should go even if no one can
really expect to live all the Statutes at once or perhaps ever. They are
voluntary. However sincere one is, one should not be "scrupulous" in the
pursuit of the Ideal. On the other hand, perseverance brings great
rewards. The more we persist in prayer, the more graces we receive, so
that growth in prayer-life tends to have a naturally expand-in effect,
coming to suffuse one’s whole life and provide the ambience in which all
our daily work, duties and joys take place, whatever they may be.
It is a good idea to start small, for example: twenty
minutes of prayer in the morning and twenty minutes in the evening.
Together this would include the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Liturgy
of the Hours (the beautiful prayer of the Church framing one’s day), the
LMC’s morning prayer, and examination of conscience.
Daily Mass and Holy Communion, if possible, is very
important to spiritual growth, as is Confession (to a regular confessor)
at least monthly, and the Angelus, at least at noon, plus a few prayers.
In short, as is dear to the Statutes, the Movement is deeply prayerful,
imbued with the spirituality of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of
Within the framework of the Statutes, everyone will have
to work out, in conjunction with a spiritual advisor, what is possible for
him or her to expand the programme as circumstances allow. Aim for the
Please note that the Statutes concerning marriage are the
traditional teaching of the Church (confirmed therein by post-Vatican II
documents) and these are the norm. But even here, the proposed periods of
abstinence, such as in Lent and Advent, although an ancient tradition in
the Church, are completely voluntary.
For further information call or write to
MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY-CONTEMPLATIVE
Via S. Agapito, 8 – 00177 Rome (Italy)
Tel. 06/ 21.70.77.02 – Fax 06/ 21.70.77.03