October 24, 2010
With great joy the novices of the past year professed their vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and Marian consecration (our fourth vow) at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Religious profession brings forth new Spouses of Christ in the Church, faithful witnesses of His love to the world.
Having the ceremony on the occasion of World Mission Sunday allowed us also to reflect on the call of these sisters to be consecrated especially as missionaries of the evangelization of culture, the charism of our Religious Family.
Why missionaries? Why missions?
At Her very heart, the Church is essentially missionary, that is to say, dedicated to prolonging the salvific mission of Christ for the redemption of the world. The great work of preaching and teaching has been left to us as a commandment by Jesus Himself at His Ascension: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Mt 28:19-20).” This means we have all received the mission to share the faith with all souls, near and far. Christ also promised us the help of the Holy Spirit that “you will receieve power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).”
Our Missionary Family
Since the beginning of our Religious Family in 1984 it has been our desire to answer the missionary mandate of Christ with great love and with the courage found in the the promise of the Holy Spirit. We wish to go to all souls: to the city, to the country, to the industrialized world, to the developing nations, to those places where so many people are crowded together, and to those places where no one wants to go. By God’s grace we have been able to open convents and monasteries in many countries and to receive local mission vocations who share in this work and who become missionaries to other nations as well. No place, no condition of man’s authentic culture is to be beyond the reach of Christ’s Gospel.
World Mission Sunday and the Church’s Teaching on Missionary Activity
In 1926 Pope Pius XI established the second to last Sunday of October as World Mission Sunday, a day to pray for and support the missions of the Church. The Society for the Propogation of the Faith was entrusted with coordinating this event as a way to help the neediest missions and the formation of new priests and religious in those countries—a work still continued through the Pontifical Mission Society. In the same year, the Holy Father Pope Pius XIwrote an encyclical on Catholic missions entitled Rerum Ecclesiae (1926) describing the urgency and importance for the Church to proclaimChrist untirelessly and with sacrificial love to all the nations of the world.
The missionary life of the Church in the modern world was especially delineated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, specifically in Ad Gentes (1965) but also present in Gaudium et Spes (1965) and Lumen Gentium (1965) #13.
Under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI, the missionary work was again set forth with great clarity and the urgency of charity in Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975). He also initiated an era of papal travels beyond the Vatican, making numerous apostolic visits to both Catholic and non-Catholic communities throughout the world, earning him the nickname “Missionary Pope.”
Venerable John Paul II continued and extended the new apostolic outreach by making papal journeys an integral part of his 25-year pontificate. In 1990, he described his own pontificate saying: “The Lord and master of history and of our destinies, has wished my pontificate to be that of a pilgrim pope of evangelization, walking down the roads of the world, bringing all peoples the message of salvation” (Arrival speech in Mexico City, May 6, 1990). That same year John Paul II gave to the Church the great mission document Redemptoris Missio (1990).
Most recently we are able to recognize the care and concern of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for missionary work today as seen in his recent Apostolic Letter the Motu ProprioUbicumque et Semper (September 21, 2010) establishing the new Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
New Missionaries in the Church
May the Lord bless and protect our newly professed sisters during their period of formation in the Juniorate House of Studies that they may become faithful missionaries for the new millennium.
Please pray and sacrifice for the missions of the Church: for the souls who still do not know Christ, and for the missionaries who have left everything to serve them so that all may come to the knowledge and fullness of life in Christ.