Becoming a Neighborhood Missionary
If we accept the challenge of being a missionary Church, a Church which constantly goes forth to the world and, especially, to the peripheries of contemporary society, we will need to foster that ‘spiritual taste’ which enables us to embrace and identify with each member of Christ’s body. Here particular care and concern needs to be shown for the children and the elderly in our communities. How can we be guardians of hope if we neglect the memory, the wisdom and the experience of the elderly, and the aspirations of the young? -Pope Francis, Address to bishops of Korea, Korean Episcopal Conference in Seoul, Aug. 14, 2014
It was during the Easter season that I recall beginning my time spent as a missionary for several months. I was not serving fellow Catholics in another country, but right here in the United States, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I volunteered with the Legion of Mary as a neighborhood missionary.
After starting our mornings going to Mass at the Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul we would spend the afternoons right in the heart of the city in a local senior residence home taking part in a small Rosary group. I will never forget the look on the faces of the men and women who had smiles beaming across their faces from ear to ear as they saw us enter into their little community room. It brought such joy to my heart as a lay woman to accompany the Legion of Mary in taking part in something that seemed on the outside so small, but in reality knowing that praying the Rosary is never something to be taken lightly.
We would arrive early to have the opportunity to get to really know the Catholic residents who would join the Legion of Mary once a month to pray the Rosary together. One of the most beautiful aspects of being a neighborhood missionary was getting to know the people not only by name, but face to face, and heart to heart. It is important to get to know individuals on a deeper level. Created in the image and likeness of God each person that we encountered we wanted them to know that they counted because every human soul counts and matters in this world.
It is only by forming relationships with those we come across in our apostolates; whether it be someone belonging to the Legion of Mary or a teacher, nurse, caretaker, social worker, etc., that we can then lead others to form a relationship with Christ. Our Catholic Faith is not simply a religion, but a relationship. It is by having an intimate relationship with Christ that leads us to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with His Father, as we travel the path to attain holiness and union with the Triune God.
Before we would begin our apostolate together each day we knew the importance of receiving spiritual nourishment first and foremost from the Most Holy Eucharist, where we receive into our heart, mind, and soul the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Beloved Lord, Jesus Christ.
The truth of the matter is that for us to give our whole selves to Christ in our everyday apostolate, we need to first and foremost offer our mission for the salvation of souls in the Blessed Sacrament. I continue to begin my day with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass even now that I have a new apostolate, and serve as a neighborhood missionary in a different way as a Catholic school teacher. It is not simply a job, but a way to bring others to Christ. It is my new God-given mission to now help young people to encounter our Lord that first and foremost begins with the Eucharist.
If possible, we should all strive to begin our days by receiving Christ in the Eucharist. We do not have to be in a monastery or convent to begin our day with Christ in a special way. Christ calls all of us in any vocation to receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament.
When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee. - St. John Vianney
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