The Spirituality of Teach for Christ
Though we use various forms of prayer, and individual missionaries are encouraged to maintain a strong personal prayer life, Teach for Christ has a particular devotion to the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as most fitting to our vocation.
What does it mean to be devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? It means to dedicate all our works, prayers, sufferings, and self-denial to the consolation of Jesus as he hangs on the cross.
On the day of His death our Lord suffered many physical torments. In the devotion to the Sacred Heart, however, we seek to console Him for what He Himself, in His apparitions to St Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17thcentury, called His greatest suffering: that the love and forgiveness He offered to all through his passion and death would be scorned by so many He hoped to save.
Imagine, for just a moment, that your own earthly life was to end in a way similar to Jesus’s: by suffering a cruel death for the specific purpose of saving your close friends, people you truly love, from a horrible fate. “No man has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). What a worthy death!
But now further imagine an even greater suffering on top of the scourging, the beating, the humiliation, and the crucifixion itself, with your own mother looking on. What could be worse? To learn, while you are still on the cross, that your sacrifice would be for nothing. That the love that made you sacrifice your life for your friends was wasted by their own rejection of your gift.
That’s exactly what Jesus went through. Though the interaction of Jesus’s divine and human natures will always be a mystery to us, we know that as God he stood outside time and knew everything that had been or would be. And thus, even while in His agony, he knew how many souls, perhaps even most, would reject His gift, even mock, or deny it. Imagine His grief.
As he told St Margaret “This hurts me more than everything I suffered in my passion. Even a little love from them in return —and I should regard all that I have done for them as next to nothing, and look for a way of doing still more. But no; all my eager efforts for their welfare meet with nothing but coldness and dislike. Do me the kindness, then —you, at least —of making up for all their ingratitude, as far as you can.”[i]
To think of Jesus suffering this rejection while still on the cross is horrifying. But as Jesus himself suggests in his words to the Saint, there is a silver lining. Just as on the cross he felt the pain of future rejection across all of time, we acting now, today, in this moment can console our suffering Lord while on his cross. What we do today for his consolation he will feel on Calvary.
In Teach for Christ we serve the poor, we educate and evangelize, we build up Catholic schools. But the most important reason to be a TfC Missionary is that we get to carry the cross in a special way, during our time on mission, and thereby ease Jesus’s pain.
The work you do is hard. The days are long; the students, however much we love them, can be very difficult; often we will never have the satisfaction of seeing much of the good we have done for them. Community life is beautiful but challenging. Getting up at 5:30 in the morning so we can pray and attend mass before we teach is not for the faint of heart. Teach for Christ is not “mission light.” But every time we feel the wood of the cross biting into our shoulders, every time we take a splinter, or feel like we can’t carry the weight another step under the burning sun, we can offer our faithfulness to Jesus on His cross and he will be comforted.
[i]Quoted in Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat, Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Francis,by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. This is a wonderful book, highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about consoling Our Lord in His Sacred Heart.
Life of Prayer
Daily Consecration to the Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart of Jesus, King of goodness and love, freely and with all my heart I accept this sweet pact: that You will take care of me and I will take care of You.
I wish that all I have be Yours, and I put it in Your hands: My soul, my eternal salvation, my liberty, my spiritual progress, my life, my health, my family, my possessions, my work and whatever good deeds I can accomplish, so that you will arrange these things according to your will.
I will try to do my best in these matters and remain content with whatever Your loving Heart decides for me. In exchange I ask that the time I have left not be wasted. I wish to do something important to help You reign in the world.
I offer my daily prayers, work, sufferings and self-denial, that everything I do in every moment of my life will be used to build Your Divine Reign in our souls, in the Church and in the world.
I pray that my last words and last ounce of strength, will be words of love, a generous offering to Your Blessed Sacred Heart. Amen.
The Warrior Prayer
Make us truly Yours Lord, count us among those who never back down; who do not lose heart; whose faith does not waver; who would give everything rather than deny You.
Teach us, form us, rule us. Ignite within us a holy passion for Your victory. Make us apostles of Your kingdom and Warriors in service of Your Holy Church, to face the world always in your service, that the world may know You, love You, and acknowledge Your reign.
Our Lady of Victory, never let us fail in the service of Your Son. Please convey through your Immaculate Heart our every prayer, every work, every act of self-denial, every suffering to the consolation of His Sacred Heart Pierced for us upon the Cross.