Dear friend, Inspiration comes in many forms.
For people of faith like us, we have a trove of inspiration to help us live our mission calling. I’m talking about the saints and martyrs—and the unsung heroes of everyday life who have crossed paths with us and left behind a blessing or two.
This week, during our Extraordinary Month of Mission, our Holy Father Pope Francis asks us to deepen our faith by spending time with the missionary saints, martyrs and confessors. From the earliest days of the Church right through the present century, we can call on their examples of self-sacrifice and devotion as a guide for our own mission journey.
Here are a few companions to invite into your life this week—and all the weeks that follow…
St. Francis of Assisi who sacrificed status and wealth to follow the Gospel as a humble servant of the Lord.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a patron saint of the missions thanks to her constant prayers and letters in support of missionaries. She is a reminder that it is the little things that grow God’s kingdom.
The North American martyrs, eight Jesuit missioners who died heroically for their faith.
St. John Paul II who said at his elevation in 1978, “Swing wide the gates to Christ…” He devoted his life to serving the poor,
the oppressed, and to reconciliation among Christians.
Maryknoll missioners gave us examples of selfless devotion as well. I’m thinking of Bishop Francis Xavier Ford who was martyred for his faith in Communist China. And Bishop Patrick James Byrne who died on a forced march in Korea. In more recent times, we remember the heroism of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M., the chaplain who died serving his men on a battlefield in Vietnam.
Friend, Paul’s message to the Hebrews says it all: “We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses…” This week, find your own inspiration. Then dedicate your journey to a mission hero who will lead you home.
Next week’s mission lesson: Developing your personal missionary spirit.
Prayer for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
May all the saints and martyrs
come to my aid
keep me from harm
protect me from evil
and guide my words, and my way
through this world to You, Lord.
In every age You have raised
up Holy Men and Women as
companions to Your people,
may I recognize their presence
in my hour of trouble or distress.
And if it be Your Will, my God,
help me be a guardian angel
to those around me
who worry and wander in this world.
Let me be awake and aware
of the plight of my brothers and sisters
near and far, known and unknown,
that through my assistance I might
by Your answer to their prayers.
Prayer by Maryknoll Father, Joseph Veneroso
I hope today’s reflection has special meaning for you. This is Father Ray Finch, sending you a blessing for the week, and an invitation to listen in again next Sunday.