What does it mean to be a ‘missionary disciple’?

WelCom June 2019:

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has encouraged the Church to go out to the world. In The Joy of the Gospel, he spoke of his dream of a ‘missionary impulse capable of transforming everything’.

‘We are all missionary disciples striving to lead all people to the Kingdom of God.’ – EG


Fr Neil Vaney sm

Being a Catholic today is a bit like living in the early Church. We are surrounded by the worship of idols in the form of consumerism and personal rights. We are derided and dismissed as a dangerous sect because of the sexual abuse scandal.

We are missionaries because we live in an indifferent and even hostile world. We need to be disciples because only Christ-centred and Spirit-led action will now have any impact. The days when our priests and hierarchy spoke with authority have gone – only an informed and dynamic laity will have impact.

“The days when our priests and hierarchy spoke with authority have gone – only an informed and dynamic laity will have impact.”

A strategy for today

“We are all missionary disciples” – Pope Francis. Photo: WelCom

The worlds in which parents, teachers, nurses and cleaners live are so diverse that no one approach will serve. At the Catholic Enquiry Centre we have come to see that terms like evangelisation have lost their cutting edge. What we urge Catholics to think about is, we want to share our faith because it can make the world whole again. Very few people come to faith through theological arguments. What shifts hearts and minds is the witness of prayer, love and generosity shining out of individual lives. Such lives can flourish today only with the support of prayer, shared study and reflection, even spiritual direction. We cannot be faith-filled witnesses to the world unless we are open to constant re-conversion.

Our witness will only be effective if those with whom we live come to see that prayer, reflection and facing the big questions of life, death and suffering are the normal bread and butter of our lives. We need to be whole and joyful men and women – and a deep source of that is the faith with which we live every day. Many today say they are searching for spirituality but are not interested in organised religion. We show that the two are not necessarily opposed but can nurture and sustain each other.

“What shifts hearts and minds is the witness of prayer, love and generosity shining out of individual lives.”

Flourish where you are planted

We will be the most effective missionary disciples by operating where we live and work. If we are nurses or carers, having a deep sense and knowledge of the Church’s healing traditions will allow us to work at different levels, physical, psychological and spiritual. If we inhabit the business world, having a good grasp of Catholic social teaching: the claims of the poor, principles of subsidiarity and participation, the fostering of democratic work places – these are great entrées into deep sharing. If we are teachers, knowing how reflection, mutual respect and community can promote open classrooms and learning are key tools for fostering growth in love.

Where you work, where your personality and gifts are most active, is where you will best be a missionary disciple.

Contact CEC at: [email protected] or free phone: 0800 328 437 – to leave a message.

www.catholicenquiry.org.nz

Published in WelCom June 2019

Have a question? We can help. Get in touch with the Diocese.

Have a question?