Missionaries follow Mary’s model of faith & love to serve those in need
Pope Francis has decreed that Catholics around the worldwill mark the feast of “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church” on the Monday after Pentecost each year, beginning liturgically in 2019. This is being done as a way to foster “the maternal sense of the Church” and to continue to promote “Marian Piety.” There has long been a tradition of celebrating Mary Mother of the Church and Pope Francis’ own devotion to Mary is well known.
Devotion to the Blessed Mother is deep and strong in many Mission lands as they recognize Mary as the Queen of Missions.
Our Blessed Mother was incredibly perceptive and paid close attention to Jesus’ every word and action. The subtleties of His teaching were not lost on her; she progressively came to realize the unfolding mystery of her own unique “calling.” As the Mission of her Son grew clearer to her eyes and spirit, Mary understood her “part,” beside her Son.
If she had not said from the very beginning, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” Luke 1:38 her understanding and strength of acceptance of the truth may not have been made possible. Through faith Mary continued to hear and to ponder that Word . . . thus in a sense Mary as Mother became the first “disciple” – the first Missionary of her Son. She became the first to whom Jesus said, “Follow me!”
Mary’s faith and example are a model for Missionaries throughout the world. She not only shows the need for prayer, as she consistently “ponders” what she is seeing and experiencing throughout the life of her beloved Son, Jesus, but also reaches outside herself and serves. Mary was the first Missionary when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explained this during his papacy:
In the Virgin Mary who goes to visit her relative Elizabeth, we recognize the true meaning and the way of the Church herself. The Church is Missionary by nature, called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and always. Mary’s is a true Missionary journey . . . one that leads her far from home, leading her into the world, in places foreign to her daily activities; it makes her reach, in a sense, to the very ends of where she can reach. Agenzia Fides, May, 2010
You can follow the model of Our Blessed Mother in two ways: Pray for Mary’s intercession to provide those who are called to a Missionary vocation. Ask her to give them the strength say “Yes” to Jesus’ request to “Follow me!” to the ends of the earth
Here are examples of how your support helps Missionaries who respond to Jesus’ call and follow Mary’s model of faith and love to serve those in need throughout the world.
Excerpts; St. John Paul II on Mary by Reverend Michael Gaitley
The Year of Living as Missionary Disciples
Respond to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” Evangelii Gaudium as he invites all of us to be Missionary Disciples.
By this declaration, Pope Francis is asking each one of us personally to live out the call of our baptism, to know and live the faith and to witness to the Gospel in word and deed. “Every Christian is challenged here and now to be actively engaged in evangelization. Anyone who has truly experienced God’s love should proclaim that love.”
Jesus Christ himself teaches us how to evangelize, how to invite people into communion with him and how to create a culture of witness: namely, through love, mercy and joy. Christ gives us direction: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” Mt 28:19
Today, especially during this Lenten season, is the perfect time to take part in this Mission of Christ. We are called to Missionary Discipleship in concrete places and relationships of our daily lives.
For example, some young women, suffering because of their family situation and poverty, are forced to live on the street in Chennai, India. They grow up surrounded by crime, prostitution and other traumatizing experiences. Many of the girls become indifferent, suspicious, disheartened and broken by life’s circumstance. Sister Mary Gloria, a Salesian Missionary, helps restore the childhood of girls living on the streets by offering simple gifts.