Fanciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy writes about this month’s intention from Pope Francis: That the breath of the Holy Spirit engender a new missionary “spring” in the Church. (Photos: Queen of Peace Friary, St. Paul, Minnesota, Franciscan Brothers of Peace)
The Holy Father places the word spring in quotation marks, so let’s think about that for a moment. The dictionary tells us that spring can be a time or season of growth. This surely speaks to the pope’s intended action. He joins us in praying that the Holy Spirit will nourish and inspire this growth in the work of evangelizing.
But the dictionary also says that spring can mean the act of leaping forward, of bounding with energy. This action-filled definition also lends itself to the Holy Father’s call to prayer. The Church longs for a recharge of the power of the Spirit which enlivens the People of God, which has us leaping forward bursting with the news that love abounds and that God is here now, and is ready to fill our longings.
Why does Pope Francis say that we need a new missionary spirit? Has the Church not been blessed with effective and holy missionaries throughout its long history? Yes, of course! But perhaps now we need a reminder that we are being called to fill that role of a renewed and reenergized missionary. We cannot rely on the statuesque Saints and Missionaries of times past to enliven the Faith today.
G. Sweeting shares a story that may help us see the need to be active in offering a fresh and enfleshed version of the Good News. He writes, “During the reign of Oliver Cromwell, there was a shortage of currency in the British Empire. Representatives carefully searched the nation in hopes of finding silver to meet the emergency. After one month, the committee returned with its report. ‘We have searched the Empire in vain seeking to find silver. To our dismay, we found none anywhere except in the cathedrals where the statues of the saints are made of choice silver.’ To this, Oliver Cromwell eloquently answered, ‘Let’s melt down the saints and put them into circulation.’”
Saints are called…
We, nor the Saints are called to stand on a pedestal of frozen faith, waiting for people to come to us seeking our wisdom. Rather, we are called to be melted down, to be made one with those we serve so that they can truly experience a way to live in faith, rather than just hear about it.
Pope Francis writes in his Message for World Mission Day 2019, “I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission. People in love never stand still: they are drawn out of themselves; they are attracted and attract others in turn; they give themselves to others and build relationships that are life-giving. As far as God’s love is concerned, no one is useless or insignificant. Each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love. Even if parents can betray their love by lies, hatred and infidelity, God never takes back his gift of life. From eternity he has destined each of his children to share in his divine and eternal life (cf. Eph 1:3-6).”
What a remarkable challenge is ours. What a work of love is called forth from us. How can we fail to attempt this Gospel-rooted commission? Let us remember that we are those who are sent and by virtue of our baptism we share in the mission of the Church. This month we go forth to be melted down so as to be put into circulation. We are to make ourselves available as models of Gospel living who can be found in the very fabric of the life of the Church around us.