A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Mission: A Life-Giving Prayer


By Fr. Bernard
Espiritu SVD, Director of Missionz

October is Mission Month. Reason shows that among the factors that led to this is the fact that October is one month in a year that celebrates a list of saints and angels in the Liturgical Calendar who excel in missionary dedication. The month opens with the feast of St Therese of the Child Jesus, the Patroness of Mission. The list continues: The Guardian Angels, Francis of Assisi, Maria Faustina Kowalska (Divine Mercy Devotion), Our Lady of the Rosary, Simeon, John Leonardi (40 Hours Devotion), Teresa of Avila, John XXIII, Anthony Claret, Simon and Jude to name a few.
October is also the month of the Rosary. Lest we forget that Pauline-Marie Jaricot, the founder of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith (1822) initiated her zealous work for the mission by organising the Union of Prayer (1816) that led to the Association of the Living Rosary (1826). The fifteen decades of the Rosary were divided among fifteen associates, each of whom had to recite daily only one determined decade and a donation of one sou which is the equivalent of one cent. The Propagation of the Faith Society that promotes October as Mission Month all started as a prayer brigade.MissioNZ Poster
The Mission Month this year culminates with the gospel on prayer in the story of the Pharisee and the Publican (Lk 18:9-14). It is one parable that defines what the proper attitude in prayer is.
Prayer is meant to put oneself in the right position before God and humans. The Pharisee in the parable believes that goodness is avoiding vices alone. His good work is confined to obedience to the law, keeping his focus on fulfilling the prescribed fasting and tithing. He also believed that no other person is as good as himself, thus isolating himself. His confidence becomes arrogance; and no one else benefits from the grace allocated to him by God.
When Christian faith matures, it reaches out.
A faith-filled person participates in effecting salvation in others. Oftentimes, this begins when one sees the self as part of a network of people; and grace is a gift from God. The tax collector in the parable is conscious of his limitations and that he needs strength from the compassion of God. Consequently the support of others can help moderate his imperfection. His humility works to his advantage.
The Mission Sunday Message of Pope Francis this year emphasises that “the strength of our faith, at a personal and community level, can be measured by the ability to communicate it to others, to spread and live it in charity, to witness it to those we meet and share the path of life with us”.
I describe the Dead Sea in Palestine as an atrophied body of water. It receives water from natural springs, but it has no outlet and so is dead. Someone who exists only for oneself does not live life to the fullest. A Christian is called to be a co-partner in God’s mission. A Christian is someone who lives that others may have life and have it abundantly. Mission month is a call to become bearers of the Good News of Christ.

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