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World Mission Day
World Mission Day
Next Sunday, October 19, is designated by the Holy See as World Mission Day.
When parishes are bombarded with material for special collections and causes on most Sundays of the year, it can be difficult for those who prepare the liturgy to know which special days should be recognised and how this is best done.
The simplest method for finding out which are official Church celebrations and which are not is to refer to the Ordo which sets out for each day of the year the feast or season which is celebrated on that day, lists the readings for the day and indicates any special texts or prayers that must be used in Masses on that day. It also lists those special commemorations that are mandated by the Holy See and the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
While some other themes or intentions may well be “worthy causes”, the Church assembles for Eucharist on Sunday to celebrate something much more profound and fundamental – the paschal mystery.
The 1998 Apostolic Letter Dies Domini states this clearly in its first paragraph:
“Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christs victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of the ‘new creation’.”
If a particular theme or appeal overshadows the character of the Sunday Mass, or takes precedence over the prayers and readings, then a disservice is done both to the liturgy and the community.
There are several ways in which a special theme, intention and appeal can be recognised whilst respecting the integrity of Sunday Eucharist. It may be referred to in the Introductory Rites or the homily, and be the subject of one or two petitions in the Prayers of the Faithful. There may be appropriate hymns which can be included in the liturgy. Information about special causes can be included in bulletin notices, handouts, displays, etc.
As we celebrate World Mission Day next Sunday, it is good to recall that we are sent out on mission at the conclusion of every Mass. The dismissal is not so much an ending as a commissioning. As the General Instruction puts it, the dismissal sends each member out ‘to do good works, praising and blessing God’ (#90).
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.
These words from the message of Pope Benedict XVI for World Mission Sunday 2008 remind the baptised of the call to be missionary people.
“The missionary mandate continues to be an absolute priority for all baptized persons who are called to be "servants and apostles of Christ Jesus" at the beginning of this millennium.
“Dear faithful laity, you who act in the different areas of society are all called to take part in an increasingly important way in spreading the Gospel.
“Givewitnesswithyourlives that Christians belong to a new society which is the goal of their common pilgrimage and which is anticipated in the course of that pilgrimage."