By John Norton
Wondering how you can tell if your faith -- and the faith of your parish, and the faith of the broader Church -- is healthy?
Pope Benedict XVI recently offered a benchmark, in a message for today's celebration of World Mission Sunday:
"Missionary zeal has always been a sign of the vitality of our churches," he said.
"The goal of the Church's mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel as they journey through history towards God, so that in him they may reach their full potential and fulfillment. We should have a longing and a passion to illumine all peoples with the light of Christ that shines on the face of the Church, so that all may be gathered into the one human family, under God's loving fatherhood," he said.
Today is dedicated to reminding ourselves of the Gospel mandate to bring Christ ad gentes, "to all peoples," through various missionary efforts. Most of us will never end up going overseas to spread the Gospel, but we're able to help through prayer and donations.
"I ask everyone," the pope said in his message, "as a credible sign of communion among the churches, to offer financial assistance, especially in these times of crisis affecting all humanity, to enable the young local churches to illuminate the nations with the Gospel of charity."
But, to paraphrase an old saying, missionary work starts at home and with our own conversion, and continual reconversion, to Christ, who, as the pope said, "draws all things to himself, renewing them and enabling them to share in the eternal joy of God."
Joy. Light. Hope. Even in the face of the cross and suffering. That's how the Holy Spirit works.
Pope Benedict explained: "The future of the new creation is already shining in our world and, despite contradictions and suffering, it enkindles hope for new life. The Church's mission is to spread hope 'contagiously' among all peoples. This is why Christ calls, justifies, sanctifies and sends his disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God, so that all nations may become the People of God. It is only in this mission that the true journey of humanity is understood and attested. The universal mission should become a fundamental constant in the life of the Church. Proclamation of the Gospel must be for us, as it was for the apostle Paul, a primary and unavoidable duty."
If you're looking for signs of hope, be recharged by the enthusiasm of the new generation of young adults whose stories we tell in this issue.
On Page 5 we report on fresh college graduates who decide to serve in under-resourced Catholic schools. And see our In Focus (Pages 9-12) to meet up and coming youthful pro-life leaders.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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