Put Out into the Deep

The Missionary Impulse of the Church

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

This Sunday, the Church Universal celebrates Mission Sunday whose theme this year is, “Through Youth To The World: Voices for Mission.” Our Holy Father, Pope Francis addresses his message for this year’s celebration to young people saying to them, “In speaking to you, I also address all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their lives as children of God. What leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us.”

Those of us who are over 60 years old remember the intense orientation that we received in our Catholic schools and religious education programs for the missionary impulse of the Church. Each Lent, each of us received our “Mite Box,” and had posters put up in our classrooms which encouraged us to help “Pagan Babies” not to be killed but to be put in Catholic orphanages; in those days it was mostly in China. Whatever instruments our Religious Sisters and teachers used, they tried to instill in us an understanding of how important it was for the Church to fulfill its missionary mandate, as well as how important it is for everyone, especially children, to see this as part and parcel of our Catholic faith. We also remember watching Bishop Fulton Sheen on television each week and how proud we were of that Catholic bishop who enthralled Catholics and non-Catholics with his philosophical teaching, with his anti-Communist talks and great talks about life such as were contained in his most famous book “Life is Worth Living.” This missionary aspect of our life as Catholics can never be forgotten.

This year as we celebrate Mission Sunday, the Church also is engaged in a Synod of Bishops on “Young People, The Faith and Vocational Discernment.” The Synod has several purposes; first, it is the focus on the mission of the Church to youth and how they, in turn, can become the present and future missionaries in the Church, especially regarding the acceptance of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. How important it is that we not forget that each one of us through our baptism has been given that mandate that Jesus gave to His Apostles as He left this world, “Go forth and baptize all people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Truly, this mandate reminds us that the Church is ever young and always needs to bring the message of Jesus to all in the world.

Each Mission Sunday includes the second collection for the Propagation of the Faith, which is used by that office of the Holy See to support the Church in mission countries. A large part of that collection goes for the education of priests and religious. We are called to be part of the Church’s mission efforts by supporting our missionary priests, religious sisters and brothers, and lay catechists who provide loving service to those in need.

As Catholics around the world, here at home and in the missions, we come each week to be enlivened and fed by the Eucharist.  This is exactly what the missionary activity of the Church is all about, to become the Church in all parts of the world and to feed God’s people with the Eucharist, which is the food of our missionary effort.

We always strive to put out in the deep sea of this constantly changing world, with the unchangeable message of Jesus Christ. The Savior of the world has come to the world so that each of the baptized can proclaim to the world with all of our might, and, yes, even with all of our financial resources, that He is the Savior.

Consider a generous donation this year to the Propagation of the Faith collection, as this is part of our baptismal call to which we must respond.

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