“Your mission, should
you choose to accept it....” This line from the popular Mission: Impossible
television series and movies probably raises images of international intrigue
for most people. But the truth is, as Catholics, we all have a mission. Vatican
II’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity (Ad Gentes Divinitus)
said, “The Church on earth is by its very nature missionary since, according
to the plan of the Father, it has its origin in the mission of the Son and the
Holy Spirit” (#2).
This month, we will celebrate
World Mission Sunday on October 20. (World Mission Sunday is celebrated yearly
on the second-last Sunday in October.) It is a day for Catholics worldwide to
recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.
World Mission Sunday is organized by the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith (www.propfaith.org),
one of four Pontifical Mission Aid Societies of the Catholic
Church. The other societies are the Society of St. Peter Apostle,
the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, and the Holy
Childhood Association. The goal of these societies is to raise
the consciousness of Catholics about what they can do to be
The Importance of Missionary Work
For years, the missions have played a vital role worldwide in providing
a living example of Christ’s teachings.
In his message for this year’s
World Mission Sunday, Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of continuing
mission work today: “At the beginning of the third Christian millennium, the
missionary duty is ever more urgent....Mission Sunday, the feast day of Mission,
helps us discover the value of our personal and community vocation. It stimulates
us to reach out to ‘my least brothers’ (Matthew 25:40) through missionaries
in every part of the world. This is the task of the pontifical mission societies
which have always been at the service of the Church’s mission, ensuring that
the least ones are not lacking those who break with them the bread of the Word
and continue to bring them the gift of inexhaustible love that gushes from the
heart of the Savior.”
Answering Your Call to Mission
For thousands of years, Catholic missionaries have helped spread
Jesus’ message throughout the world. Some have traveled the world, while others
work closer to home, doing missionary work. You and your family can do your
part to spread Jesus’ message in your own neighborhood, parish, town or city.
Here are some ways your family
can accept your missionary call:
Pray for those doing missionary work throughout the world. St. Thérèse
of Lisieux and St. Francis Xavier are the patroness and patron
of the missions.
Become aware of the various organizations supporting
mission work throughout the world, such as Catholic Relief
the U.S. bishops’ overseas aid organization.
Fast from at least one meal, or take part in a 24-hour fast as an
act of solidarity with those suffering from hunger. Or prepare a meal from one
of the many countries where Catholic Relief Services works, such as Guatemala,
Kenya or Vietnam. You can find these recipes at the CRS Web site in the kids’
Donate to the collection taken up on World Mission Sunday or support
another mission organization.
Learn about areas of the world where missionaries work and the type
of work they are doing to help make a difference.
Work for legislation that will positively impact the lives of the
poor throughout the world.
Read the U.S. bishops’ 1986 pastoral statement To
the Ends of the Earth, available online at www.usccb.org.
This month, as we recognize all
of the mission work being done throughout the world, let’s think of what our
role in that work could be. We know our mission. The question is: Will we accept
Next Month: Are You a Saint?