Thursday, July 7, 2011


Being “World Mission Sunday,” many parishes have guest preachers in their sanctuaries to speak about the history, successes and failures, and prospects of the missionary activity of the Church throughout the world.

Of course there is the traditional 2nd collection for World Missions; some folks think that offering a bit of cash is what is expected of them in this regard. How wrong they (we) are!

The key is language. The Mass ends with the words (in Latin): Ite, missa est. A reasonable translation of this is: Go, it is the sending. Paraphrased: Let’s go—it’s mission-time!

One can easily see that the words “Mass” and “mission” are related in their etymology. We send all kinds of types at Our Savior during Sunday Eucharist: children for “Children’s Liturgy of the Word,” RCIA catechumens (often with candidates), special ministers of Holy Communion to the sick, families receiving the Elijah Cup for prayer for vocations… Then the whole congregation is sent out.

Mass is the time of fueling up in order to be sent out.

We, every one of us, have a mission: to spread the Good News to others by the quality of our lives in Christ. If you like, the overall “mission” of the Church (its reason for existence) is not so much to be a haven for those who are (or who want to be) saved, as some triumphalists would like to think; it is not so much a hospital for the spiritually wounded, as St Augustine described it; rather, it is a training ground for “guerilla warfare” against the only Enemy who really matters. And even if all are not majors or colonels or generals, we’re all (at least) NCOs who have enlisted to defeat this Enemy.

Here is the mission of the Church: to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and at the same time undercut and defeat the Bad News of the Enemy. Again, this is done primarily by “crying the Gospel with our lives” (Bl Charles de Foucauld).

If the words of Jesus are true (“You have not chosen Me; I have chosen you…”), then we are not only sent, we have also beforehand been called. And we have said YES (with one level of enthusiasm/commitment or another)—so we have been given the uniform and are now part of the action.
We don’t have to earn a Silver Star; we just must not go AWOL…

Happy Sunday, fellow-Missionaries!!

Pictured above: the right arm of the greatest of all Jesuit missionaries, enshrined in Il Gesù in Rome).

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