Dear Friends in Christ:
This weekend we welcome Fr. Dave Cottingham, CSSp, who will be giving the Annual Archdiocesan Mission Appeal. Every year the archdiocese assigns a missionary to speak to every parish in the archdiocese. The purpose is not merely to request funds for the support of missionary activities, but also a chance for our local Catholics to learn what the Church is doing around the world to bring the Good News of Jesus to other parts of the world. Fr. Dave is a Holy Ghost Father (Spiritan) and has himself served as a missionary around the world. In addition to these two aspects of the Mission Appeal, I would like to add two more. First, that all of us keep the missionaries and their work in our daily prayers and secondly, that those whom God is calling from our parish and our families to be missionaries may respond to this vocation.
Blessed Pope Paul VI reminded us that the Church does not merely have a mission, it is a mission. Each one of us by virtue of our baptism is called to preach the gospel and share the saving love of Jesus Christ with others. While some members of the Church, like Fr. Dave and the Holy Ghost Fathers, dedicate their lives to specific missionary efforts in distant lands, all of us are called to be missionaries in the midst of our own neighborhood, family, friends, and co-workers. We are called to pray for others but also to actively reach out to others. How? Invite someone to Mass with you. Have a conversation about our Catholic faith with someone (please note that I said “conversation”, not a debate or a fight!). Sometimes just listening to people’s questions is the beginning of their journey to embrace the gospel and the Catholic faith. One of the best ways to proclaim the gospel to others is to not keep the joy of our faith hidden. Simply let people know and see the joy that your Catholic faith brings you! Tell others how great it is to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Tell others how comforting the words of scripture are to you in your daily life. Let people know the everyday miracles and blessings that God gives you. If the heavens and earth proclaim the greatness of the Lord (Psalm 19) shouldn’t we, who have received grace flowing upon grace, do the same?
Soon we will begin the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process. This is for any adult who has never been baptized and for those baptized in a non-Catholic Church who would wish to become Catholic. Please invite a family member or friend who is unbaptized or is not Catholic to consider becoming Catholic. It really is as simple as asking, “Have you ever considered being baptized?”; “Have you ever thought about becoming Catholic?” No ultimatums, no threats, only a simple invitation and offer. People may not respond immediately, but you never know. Your question/invitation may be what gets them thinking. The one thing that is absolutely certain is that if they say yes, God will bless them abundantly and their lives will be forever changed in a wonderful way!
This invitation also holds true for Catholics who no longer practice the faith or come to Church. Again, no ultimatums or threats are needed, just a simple invitation to experience something beautiful. The key of course is that we need to first witness the faith in our lives.
Have a blessed week.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately