What is Missio Dei?
The Purpose and Mission of Missio Dei
Greetings Missio Dei Readers and Writers,
I’ve been asked the above title question in various forms when promoting our new publication with potential writers, readers, and publications to help support us. I started Missio Dei with Jonathon as a place where we could write and explore our Catholic faith in the hope to bring others closer to the salvation of Jesus Christ. In truth, as we look to expand the growth of Missio Dei, Jonathon and I spend most of our time looking over and promoting the writings of the many talented writers of Missio Dei. Sure, I’d like to research and write more on topics of Sacred Scripture, but if Missio Dei is a body, my role as a member now reflects more editor than anything else.
So how do I envision Missio Dei? Where does it stand in the seemingly renewed Catholic liturgy wars? Everyone wants us or me to choose a side. What side am I on? What side is Missio Dei on? Personally, I do not view the Gospel and its kerygmatic proclamation with such a lens of division. I personally stand for the unity of the Catholic faith serving our Lord in the hope to be His laborer, so that all may be offered salvation and come to the knowledge of God. (1 Tim 2:4)
I’ve asked a diverse group of writers to build a community here at Missio Dei. Some writers at Missio Dei attend the Traditional Latin Mass; and others, support the initiatives set forth at the Vatican II council and/or the initiatives of the current pontificate under Pope Francis. I’ve asked each writer to write on topics of interest, so long as they refrain from polemics against Catholic clerics and personalities. Of course, under such a directive, there is still room for charitable disagreement and debate. In some sense, Missio Dei is an ecumenical dialogue under the big tent of Catholicism itself. For example, I’ve asked Fr. Chris Pietraszko, who is very interested in Thomism to write for us, but I’ve also asked Andrew Kellogg whose views are founded with the Franciscan traditions of the Catholic Church—two views that have been opposed to each other at times in the Church’s history.
Avery Cardinal Dulles in the forward of his book Models of the Church speaks about this tension in the Church:
The Anglicans, with their principle of comprehensiveness, have come closer than most Roman Catholics to seeing the legitimacy of keeping irreducibly distinct theologies alive within the same ecclesiastical communion. To a certain extent, however, theological pluralism has always existed in the Catholic Church, as appears from the endemic tensions between the theological schools. The conflicts between Franciscans and Thomists, Augustinians and Jesuits are a matter of historical record. (Dulles, Avery. Models of the Church, Image Classics, 2002, p. 5.)
Furthermore, Avery Cardinal Dulles expresses his motivation for the thesis of his book:
“The method of typology pursued in this book should help to foster the kind of pluralism that heals and unifies, rather than a pluralism that divides and destroys. (Dulles, Avery. Models of the Church, p. 5)
I agree with Avery Cardinal Dulles’ motivation here for his vision of ecclesiology for the Catholic Church. But, “Why?”
The reason I named this publication Missio Dei comes from my exegesis textbook written by exegete Michael J. Gorman. Gorman explains the term “Missio Dei” in reference to the scriptural interpretive school of thought that bears its name, “God, through the missional witness of Scripture, calls the people of God assembled in the name of Christ—who is the incarnation of the divine mission—to participate in this missio Dei, to discern what God is up to in the world, and to join in.” (Gorman, Michael J. Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers, 2020, p. 171)
By virtue of the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist; we participate in the body of Christ. We are all baptized and anointed as priests, prophets, and kings. So, as Kelly Ann Tallent reminded us, our call to live a life of holiness is not a passive one, but instead, it is an active mission. We are called by God to actively participate in the mission of His Church. Pope St. John Paul II wrote on this mission in his apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation… Through evangelization the Church is built up into a community of faith: more precisely, into a community that confesses the faith in full adherence to the Word of God which is celebrated in the Sacraments, and lived in charity, the principle of Christian moral existence.” (33)
So, how can each one of us join and better actively engage in the Mission of God? Look no further than the words of Sacred Scripture from the lips of Christ in His High Priestly Prayer found in the Gospel of John Ch. 17:
20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. (Jn. 17:20-21 NAB)
What side is Missio Dei on? The side of God’s mission that desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of God. What helps this mission? The proclamation of the good news in unity with each other, so that world may believe that God sent Christ to save it.
It’s my hope you join us with the Missio Dei.