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World Mission Day - 18th October 2015
Sunday 18th October is designated by the Holy See as World Mission Day.
At Mass on this day, you may hear World Mission Day referred to in the words of introduction, in the homily, or in the Prayer of the Faithful petitions. You may notice some of the hymns at Mass have Mission as their theme. Information about Catholic Missions may be included in the parish bulletin or on the notice board.
As we celebrate World Mission Day, it is good to recall that we are sent out on mission at the conclusion of every Mass. When Mass was celebrated in Latin, the words used as the dismissal were Ite, missa est. By the fifth century, the word missa was used to describe both the dismissal, its original meaning, and the entire celebration. The fact that the word “Mass” derives from the dismissal underlines the fact that this part of the Mass is very important.
The dismissal is not just a way to end the celebration and say farewell to those who have gathered, although both of these are included. As the General Instruction puts it, the dismissal sends each member out “to do good works, praising and blessing God” (#90).
The dismissal is not so much an ending as a commissioning. Some traditions refer to it as the “charge”, not because it is when we “charge” out of the church (as some seem to believe!), but to reflect the fact that we who have united ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist have a duty and responsibility to live the mystery we have just celebrated, to be the Body of Christ in our homes, communities and workplaces.
The Concluding Rites of the Mass remind us that we are all expected to do our part in carrying on Christ’s mission of proclaiming God’s word and of serving others. The announcements following the Prayer after Communion offer the assembly opportunities for living out the commitment which Eucharist entails during the coming week, for example, assisting at the food pantry, gathering for evening prayer, offering transport for the elderly, visiting the sick and housebound.
Here are some highlights from Pope Francis’ message for World Mission Sunday which is available in full at www.catholicmission.org.au/wmm/pope-francis-message:
“The 2015 World Mission Sunday 2015 takes place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life, which provides a further stimulus for prayer and reflection. For if every baptised person is called to bear witness to the Lord Jesus by proclaiming the faith received as a gift, this is especially so for each consecrated man and woman.
“Being a missionary is not about proselytising or mere strategy; mission is part of the “grammar” of faith, something essential for those who listen to the voice of the Spirit who whispers “Come” and “Go forth”. Those who follow Christ cannot fail to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus walks with them, speaks to them, breathes with them. They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise. Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people.
Since Christ’s entire existence had a missionary character, so too, all those who follow him closely must possess this missionary quality.”