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October 11, 1996     The Message
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October 11, 1996

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Pastoral work. q,, Redem torist mrs ,,, -ca SZnary Father Alfred. Bradl'y, C.SS.R., 1 In sending in last year's World Mission 'il ounday COntribution from the Diocese ;!iJof St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, ! Wrote. "This past year we experi- Wl" llCed Once again the tremendous t eStruction of another severe hurri- :3| ,int. Our people have suffered a great deal. Our schools and churches sustained much damage. Our good PeOple know from their own expe- rience how important it is to reach out to those in need. It is our sincere hoP e that Our small contribution to the Propagation of the Faith this WOrld Mission Sunday will help SUpPort the urgent needs of our brothers and sisters throughout the world.,. is MzssloN NEws ;arPthbeFcehtin fr the Prpagation of the Faith ebration of World Mission Sunday, r October 20, 1996 A MESSAGE FROM THE NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE PROPAGATION OF THE FAITH "To The Enc)s o F The EanTb" his year marks the tenth anni- versary of the U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Statement on World Mis- sion, To the Ends of the Earth. The anniversary of this significant docu- ment is cause for celebration, Eu- charistic celebration, especially on World Mission Sunday, October 20, when Catholics throughout the world will celebrate the Eucharist as a missionary event. The title of the pastoral came from the prologue of theActs of the Apostles (Acts 1:3-14). Speaking to the apostles just before ascending to heaven, Jesus outlined the mission of the Church: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my wit- nesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). In the Book of Acts, we then see the early Christians reaching "to the ends of the earth," even from the very birth of the Church on Pente- cost, when "there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem" (Acts 2:5). As a. Church, the early Chris: tians were missionaries, bringing the message of salvation m the mes- sage that Jesus gave his life for the whole human race -- p]anting the Church, baptizing those who ac- cepted the Gospel, and making them missionaries in turn. " ineteen hundred years later, as we approach the third mil- lennium of the birth of Jesus, the Bishops' pastoral applies Jesus' challenge to the Church today. In fact, the chal-. lenge of the pastoral to us Catholics in the United States grows larger every year, as more and more we realize what it means to bring salvation "to the ends of the earth." If it were just a matter of geography, the mission "to the ends of the earth" would be relatively easy, given the modern means of trans- portation and communication. But the mission to the ends of the earth is a matter of people. And we know how difficult it is to get a message to people in a way that they really hear it and act on it. That does not happen in a day. It takes a lot of time and effort to evangelize peoples, nations and cultures. It takes time for the Gospel to pen- etrate people's lives. For this, we have the Eucharist, where people can really hear the Gospel and act on it as a Church. From the very beginning, the Eu- charist was seen as a missionary act. We see it in the Last Supper, where Jesus offered his life for all human beings and asked us to do the same in memory of him. For St. Paul, the Eucharist was a proclamation of the Gospel: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord un- til he comes" (1 Cor 11:26). the Sundays of the year, however, some stand out with a distinctive focus: EasterSunda Pentecost Sun- day -- and World Mission Sunday. As Pope John Paul II wrote in Redemptoris Missio: "World Mission Day, which seeks to heighten awareness of the missions, as well as to collect funds for them, is an important date in the life of the Church, because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world" (RM 81). he Mission Sunday collection JI. is part of our Eucharistic offer- ing, made in thanksgiving to God, at the table of Jesus the Lord of all. The Mission Sunday collection re- minds us of our responsibility as a Eucharistic people for the missions of the world. On Mission Sunday, we stand in a tradition going back to the days of St. Paul, when the early Chris- tians, assembling on the first day of the week, showed their generosity in a collection for churches that were in need (see 1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 8-9). he World Mission Sundat/collection is part of our Eucharistic offering, made in thanksgiving to God, at the table of Jesus very celebration of the Eucharist celebrates and pro- claims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From the verybeginning, however, the Sunday celebration of the Eu- charist "on the first day of the week" had very special significance for proclaiming "the death of the Lord until he comes." On the first day of the week, we see the Eucharist in relation to all of creation. That is the day we say with Christ, for the missions of the world. very celebration of the Eucharist celebrates and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let there be light for all nations. "As the word of God, he [Jesus] is the light of all nations" (To the Ends of the Earth 1). the Light of the World, "Let there be light!" As the Bishops of the United States wrote in their pastoral, To the Ends of the Earth: "We urge the full- est celebration of World Mission Sun- day in every parish. The church has designated this day for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the missionary task and to support the church inancially in its outreach. World Mission Sunday, under the aegis of the Propagation of the Faith, uniquely celebrates the unity and universality of the church" (To the Ends of the Earth 71). he Eucharist is the center of our lives. May we live it in com- munion as we join in bringing the good news of Jesus Christ "to the ends of the earth." very Sunday is a special day in In Jesus the Missionary, grace to the life of the Church. Among you and peace! Adapted from guest editorial which appeared in EMMANUEL magazine (October 1996)