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Living an Integrated Life in Mission, Journey of Faith

Living an Integrated Life in Mission, Journey of Faith

 

Today’s Gospel from Saint Luke, also used for the feast of Saint Martha, probably reflects a typical scene from the life of Jesus.  He had a very close friendship relationship with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, often going to their home in Bethany to relax, enjoy their company, share some of Martha’s good cooking, and simply rest from his demanding ministry activities.

Saint Luke presents Mary seated near Jesus and listening to him.  Martha, being a good host, is busy with all the demands of hospitality.  Understandably, she becomes upset that Mary seems to be taking it easy and leaving all the work to her.  Jesus lovingly cautions Martha not to be overly concerned about all the details of serving.

Exploring Jesus’ Message.  Is Jesus rebuking Martha, even disregarding her concerns, when he says that Mary “has chosen the better part”?  Certainly not!  He is gently reminding Martha to keep everything in balance, to fulfill one’s daily duties (work, cook, wash, clean) and still remain centered on Christ (time for prayer and reflection).  This is captured well in the Benedictine motto: ora et labora, prayer and work.

Whatever our state in life (married, single, or religious), we need both prayer and work in order to fully live the Christian life, to accomplish our mission.  If we as active evangelizers were to embrace prayer without also performing the tasks inherent in our Christian calling, we would stagnate.  When guided by God’s will, our labors bring us closer to him.

Likewise, our daily mission work loses its meaning if it is not grounded in prayer, meditation, and reflection.  Everything in our lives is not under our control; we cannot do anything except through the grace of God.  Before we begin our daily tasks and missionary service, we must first turn to God in prayer.  Then, rooted in God’s love, we can more effectively carry out our mission in life.

Seeking Genuine Integration.  Personally, I have experienced the need for being both “active and contemplative” in my overseas mission experience.  In addition, I have found that Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke insightfully about the prayer-work dynamic.  She would say that we must see the inseparable twofold presence of Jesus, in the Bread of Life (Eucharist) and in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.

Mother Teresa continues: “Just as Jesus allows himself to be broken, to be given to us as food, we too must break, we must share ourselves with others.”  According to Mother Teresa, our spiritual life, especially the Eucharist, keeps us zealous, fervent, and enthusiastic in our daily duties.  In a word, the love of Jesus will shine through our lives of service.

Contemplatives in Action.  This simple phrase which we all have heard expresses our calling to an integrated Christian life, combining the spirit of both Martha and Mary in our daily lives.  We seek to rise to this beautiful challenge!

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

  

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord Jesus, teacher and redeemer,

sitting at your feet may I always

learn to love and serve you

no less in the poor, sick and oppressed

than in my neighbor and in everyone

I meet along the way.

Like incense let my prayer rise unceasingly

to your throne in heaven as much in my silences

as in my words that my every thought, word and deed,

might redound to your glory and may my service

speak as much of your praises as do my supplications.

Merciful master, whether I serve or pray

may I do it out of love for you and gratitude

for all you have done and given to me.

I offer you my thoughts, my prayers,

my service and my suffering

to do with as you will.

Honored to play even the smallest part

in announcing and building your Reign

here on earth. In your Name.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, with Matthew Fox

Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, with Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox is an internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian, Episcopal priest, and activist. He holds a doctorate, summa cum laude, in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris and has devoted 45 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality, which is rooted in ancient Judeo-Christian teaching, inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions; welcoming of the arts and artists; wisdom centered, prophetic, and committed to eco-justice, social justice and gender justice.

Mercy: The Heart of Mission, Journey of Faith

Mercy: The Heart of Mission, Journey of Faith

Two of Jesus’ parables are known worldwide by people of all faiths and traditions; they are the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.  Both narratives speak of the universal value of mercy.  The good Samaritan treated the wounded stranger with mercy and compassion.  The merciful father welcomes his wayward son home with open arms.

Identifying the Samaritans.  In Jesus’ time the Samaritans were greatly despised by the Jews; they were considered infidels, foreigners, and half-breeds.  In particular, the Pharisees looked down upon the Samaritans as “second-class,” having a “false religion,” and “lacking faith in the true God.”  Why?  Samaritans were of mixed blood; they intermarried with the Assyrians who conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 732 BC.  They did not go to the temple in Jerusalem to worship; they prayed at Mount Gerazim.  They were not “pure” Jews.

Surprising Models of Virtue.  A careful look at the Gospels shows us that three times Jesus made Samaritans “models of virtue.”  Jesus’ words would shock the ears of many Jews.  When Jesus cured the ten lepers of their dreaded disease, only one came back to thank Jesus.  The “grateful leper” was a Samaritan (Lk 17:15-19).  Jesus engaged the “Samaritan woman at the well” (Jn 4:1-42); he praised her journey of faith.

The “good Samaritan” in today’s gospel (Lk 10:25-37) saw the wounded stranger on the roadside; he stopped, dressed his wounds, took him to an inn, and paid for the expenses.  Concluding the narrative story, Jesus asks: “Who proved himself to be neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  The Jewish scholar of the law, not even wishing to say the word Samaritan, says: “The one who treated him with mercy.”  Jesus’ conclusion is simple and direct: “Go and do likewise.”

Insights from Pope Francis.  In 2015 Francis authored Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy) and proclaimed a “Year of Mercy” to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican II (1965-2015).  Francis says: “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy.  It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace….  Mercy [is] the bridge that connects God and man” (2).

Pope Francis continues: “In Jesus of Nazareth, mercy has become living and visible….  The signs he works, especially in the face of sinners, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy” (8).  “The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel….  Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy” (12).

A Foundational Mission Value.  Succinctly stated, mission means “living-in-mercy.”  A missioner’s life is replete with experiences of mercy—both given and received.  Mercy addresses various kinds of human suffering.  Practicing mercy is challenging; its demands are often inconvenient and unpredictable.  Living a merciful life means not only giving things, but giving ourselves.  We prayer for the merciful heart and eyes of Jesus and his mother Mary.

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

  

Prayer for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God of mercy, who entered into human chaos

to be with us in our misery, hear us

especially in our darkest hour and greatest need.

You deigned to become one of us

with us and like us that we in turn

might become one with and like you.

Your mercy reaches into the deepest

darkness of the human heart

and scatters the gloom of mind and

memories that keep us from living

life to the full.

We kneel at the throne of your mercy

Lord God and most merciful Savior.

Lift the yoke laying heavily on our hearts

and let rays of your irrepressible grace

flow from your wounds borne out of love

for us wayward sinners and wash clean

our souls that we in turn might be merciful to all we meet.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

Mission: The Heart of the Gospel, Journey of Faith

Mission: The Heart of the Gospel, Journey of Faith

Mission permeates the entire New Testament.  Today’s Gospel from chapter ten of Luke narrates a key event, where Jesus chooses seventy-two additional followers and sends them out on mission.  We should conclude that mission is for all of Jesus’ disciples—all baptized Christians, not just the special twelve apostles.  Jesus then gives them clear and specific instructions.  I see at least ten “mission principles” emerging from today’s Gospel.

(1) All mission and evangelization begin with God’s initiative, with Jesus’ choice.  We do not engage in mission based on our decision.  Recall Jesus’ words: “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16).  (2) Mission is not a personal or individual project.  Jesus sends his messengers out in pairs.  We understand that as followers of Jesus “we’re in this together” for a more effective witnessing.

(3) Recall that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  This was true in Jesus’ time and remains true today.  We must recognize the great task that faces us; we turn to the Lord in prayer, asking for additional harvesters.  (4) Next, Jesus gives a brief, yet direct instruction: “Be on your way.”  Do not delay!  Don’t wait to start until all the details are in place and the perfect mission plan has been formulated.  Go, and go now! 

(5) Remember that you will face many challenges; you will be like lambs in the midst of wolves.  Recognize that some people will welcome your message, while others will reject both you and your very mission.  Always be ready to move on; persecution for the faith is nothing new in Christianity.  (6) Jesus advises his missionaries to “travel light.”  Don’t let material “stuff” weigh you down and get in the way of your ministry of preaching Jesus’ Good News.

(7) The missioner is to extend Christ’s “mercy and compassion” to all.  Find like-minded people of peace; work closely with them.  (8) Be humble and accept what is offered in terms of food and accommodations; do not go searching for a more comfortable situation.  Be content with the hospitality extended to you. 

(9) Reach out to the sick and needy you encounter.  Recall Pope Francis’ advice to go to the margins, the peripheries, to the excluded in society.  (10) Make the announcement of Jesus’ Kingdom message your central emphasis; proclaim that “the reign of God near.”

Indeed, as Christians we all carry on the mission ministry that Jesus gave us.  We can be inspired by the well-known saying of Saint Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world.  Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.  Yours are the hands with which he is to bless others now.”

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

  

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord Jesus, my Savior and my God,

I offer you my hands to heal,

my voice to sing your praises,

my mind to contemplate your truth,

my tongue to announce your good news,

my ears to hear the cry of the poor, and

my heart to love others as you love me.

I offer you my past, with all its pain,

my present, with its faults and failures

but also with faith in you who call me.

I offer you my future, be it a day or

many decades to help build

your kingdom here on earth.

Be with me Lord, as I follow you

to the cross and through the cross

to a fuller, more abundant life

that I might love you all the more.

Grant that I seek and find you

in everyone I meet today

and fill me with the joy of knowing

you remain with me always.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

Pope Francis is a Missionary Pope

We in Maryknoll admire Pope Francis because he expresses so well what a Maryknoll Missioner is all about, namely service to God’s mission in the world.  He is a missionary pope who says we should “smell like the sheep”.  On Holy Thursday several years ago he said:

“Love and charity, are service, helping others, serving others. There are many people who spend their lives in this way, in the service of others. … When you forget yourself and think of others, this is love! And with the washing of the feet the Lord teaches us to be servants, and above all, servants as He was a servant to us, for every one of us.”

Some see the missionary life as a daunting challenge but we see it simply as service in response to love and God is love.  I had the privilege of meeting St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta on two occasions.  She once said: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  If you admire the missionary vocation but feel you are not worthy to undertake it then take the time to pray over it.  We missioners are just ordinary human beings like you trying to contribute to God’s Mission in this world in whatever small way we can.  St. Mother Teresa expressed it well: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

I hope you will enjoy this edition of our Vocations Newsletter and if you feel the call within you, then contact us.  Perhaps we can assist as you look to the future asking yourself: What does God want me to do with my life?

Fr. Mike Snyder

As always we look forward to hearing from you at (vocation@maryknoll.org): Fr. Rodrigo Ulloa-Chavarry, Fr. Cuong Nguyen, Fr. Mike Snyder, Fr. Joe Donovan and Mr. Greg Darr.

Maryknoll Ordains a New Priest

On June 3, 2022 His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples ordained Deacon John Siyumbu to the priesthood. Maryknoll Superior General, Father Lance P. Nadeau, was concelebrant.  During his homily, Cardinal Tagle spoke about John’s future ministry and God’s calling him to priesthood saying “We are all humble collaborators.”  Father Nadeau shared a greeting and message in Swahili with Father John’s family who were watching via live stream from Kenya.

After the Ordination Mass, Father John received his Mission Cross at the Maryknoll Sending Ceremony, and was commissioned to our mission service in Latin America.

Born in Kenya, East Africa, as a young boy, he attended Mass regularly with his family.  He loved celebrating the sacraments and felt the beginnings of a calling at the time of his Confirmation.  As a seminarian during his overseas training in Bolivia, Father John has commented on he grew close to many families and learned so much from them.  Through the celebration of their faith and simple acts of friendship, his own faith was strengthened.

Father John is the first candidate accepted into Maryknoll as a candidate for the priesthood from Kenya.

The Maryknoll Mission Bell By Fr. Rodrigo Ulloa M.M.

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers had the first mission departure on September 7, 1918. At eight o’clock the ringing of the mission bell announced the departure of our first four men to the Orient. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation creating the yearning to hear the sound of the bell. It is a 200 pound bell from an old Japanese pagoda that was given as a gift to our co-founder, Bishop James A. Walsh, M.M., by Fr. Deffrennes, a French missionary in Japan.

It is said that during a trip to the Orient, Bishop Walsh heard that this bell was rescued from a Japanese temple which burned to the ground. In the small town near Sendai, he was offered this bell by Fr. Deffrennes. Bishop Walsh arranged the bell to be transported from Yokohama to Maryknoll by ship. As he saw the bell for one last instance, Fr. Deffrennes wrote a letter dated in 1919:

“You can imagine how happy I was to know that my bell had sounded the hour of the first departure! May it sound many, many more times! Its voice is not beautiful but the ears of apostles must get used to unpleasant sounds.”

Being faithful to the tradition, this bell rang again on the first Friday of June 2022 at 3 PM when Fr. John Siyumbu, M.M., received his mission cross and was assigned to his first mission in Latin America. Will a priest or a Brother be the next one to go on mission? When will the bell ring next? These were some of the questions that you could hear after the ceremony.

Looking ahead, I captured a group of our newest seminarians studying the still legible Chinese characters engraved on the bell which narrate the story of its origins. This is a bell that sends people to announce Good News. Be part of this tradition. Be a Brother, be a Priest, be Maryknoll!

Of Walking Sticks and Wonder – The Apostolic Life By Mr. Greg Darr

Spiritual author, Fr. Richard Rohr OFM once remarked, “Transformed people transform people.”  It’s the chemical equation of a spiritual life – when one person encounters another through love, a transforming reaction takes place changing both lives, making each more brilliantly transparent to God’s love.  This is the call of the “apostolic life”; it’s the summons of Jesus, “Come, follow me”, through encounter upon encounter with the peoples of our world, especially those who most resemble Christ – the poor, the homeless, the refugee, the despised, the condemned.

Often “apostolic life” is contrasted with “contemplative life”, especially when distinguishing communities of consecrated life in discerning a vocation.

Contemplative communities are commonly characterized by silence, simplicity and prayerful intentionality in work and devotion to God and to one another.  In this way of life, the example of Jesus at prayer, draws us away from the world so as to embrace it more deeply and completely in God’s love.

Apostolic communities, on the other hand, are typically characterized by their action or ministry in the world, generally outside of monasteries.  Members may teach, serve the homeless or poor, minister in healthcare settings or prisons, accompany migrants and refugees, care for Creation, or advance social justice causes among many other ministries.  In this way of life, the teaching and healing ministries of Jesus, and the example of the apostles being sent by Him into the world to do the same, is foremost.

And yet as Jesus demonstrated, both “contemplative” and “apostolic” dimensions are essential for a meaningful Christian life.  And both are practiced even among the most “contemplative” or “apostolic” of communities.

Though drawn to prayer and contemplation in our Maryknoll charism, we nonetheless identify most publicly with our apostolic calling and way of life.  To paraphrase French writer, Émile Zola, if you ask us what we came to do in this world, we will answer: we are here to “live out loud”.  Mission is, for us, prayer lived “out loud” in its subversive actions against the anxieties, animosities and complacencies that fray our bonds with God and one another.

Like other apostolic communities, Maryknollers journey to the margins of societies around the world.  It’s there that God calls us to walk with the poor and broken, to bind wounded bodies and souls, and to call into question those social structures that perpetuate such suffering.  In doing so, we encounter Christ time and again, often in very surprising ways.  And, we are transformed.

Bishop James Edward Walsh, MM, one of Maryknoll’s first missionaries and our second Superior General, wrote movingly of one such encounter with a poor Chinese laborer.

“I saw him in the rice field”, Walsh recalled.  “He stopped working as I approached and leaned on his hoe. The sweat of a hot day under the South China sun glistened on his brow.”  As Walsh looked closer at the young man, he saw however something more – something that was always there that, but for a moment and Walsh’s prayerful openness to it, could have been forever lost to him.  It wasn’t.  Instead, a feeling of profound love welled up within, transforming Walsh and empowering him to exclaim his vocation as a missioner anew:

“’I choose you,’ sang in my heart as I looked at my awkward farmer boy, perfect picture of the underprivileged soul. ‘I choose you, and with you the countless million of God’s children like you… souls impoverished and unendowed, I choose you, and dedicate myself to you. I ask no other privilege but to devote the energies of my soul to such as you. For in this sudden revelation shines an incarnation of my life’s ideal. You are my father and mother my sister and my brother; you hold the center of my dreams.’

Jesus sent His apostles out into the world with nothing more than a walking stick (ref: Mark 6:8) so as to realize, for themselves, the truth of God’s dream for humanity – we are all family.  A walking stick is meaningful though only if you take time to listen to God and the family you walk among – and if you’re open to wonder.

Touched by wonder in his own apostolic walk among the poor of China, Walsh implored:  “Shine on, farmer boy, symbol to me of the thousand million like you who drew the Son of God from heaven to smooth and bless your weary anxieties and your puzzled brows. Come to me often in your barefooted squalor and look at me from out those hopeless and bewildered eyes. Do not let me forget that vision, but stay by me and preside over my dreams. Teach me that souls are people. And remind me everlastingly that they are magnificent people like you.”

 

Our Missionary Call from Jesus, Journey of Faith

Our Missionary Call from Jesus, Journey of Faith

In today’s Gospel, Saint Luke presents Jesus “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  As Jesus proceeds on his missionary path, he invites others to follow him.  Then we hear of many excuses for either delaying or even rejecting the call.  Honestly, we are often reluctant to fully follow Jesus as his missionary disciples. 

From my more than five decades of mission in Asia (Philippines and Bangladesh) I have often searched for the “Why” of mission.  I am sure you have also sincerely asked yourself: What is my mission and how do I fulfill it; what does Jesus want of me?

I have discovered a creative, comprehensive expression of the reasons for engaging in mission in the documents of the Asian bishops (FABC) during their Fifth Plenary Assembly in 1990.  They enunciated five core motives that can respond to the question: “Why evangelize?” 

1. “We evangelize, first of all from a deep sense of gratitude to God, the Father ‘who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing’ (Eph 1:3)….  Mission is above all else an overflow of this life from grateful hearts transformed by the grace of God.  That is why it is so important for us Christians to have a deep faith-experience of the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:39)….  Without a personal experience of this love received as gift and mercy, no sense of mission can flourish.”

2. “But mission is also a mandate.  We evangelize because we are sent into the whole world to make disciples of all nations.  The one who sends us is Jesus….  He sends us on a mission which is part of the epiphany of God’s plan to bring all things together under Christ as head (Eph 1:9-10).  We cannot fulfill this mission apart from him (Jn 15:4-5).”  All Christians strive to take Christ’s mission command to heart!

3. “We evangelize also because we believe in the Lord Jesus.  We have received the gift of faith.  We have become Christians….  Unfortunately for many Catholics, faith is only something to be received and celebrated.  They do not feel it is something to be shared.  The missionary nature of the gift of faith must be inculcated in all Christians.”

4. “We evangelize also because we have been incorporated by baptism into the Church, which is missionary by its very nature….  The Church exists in order to evangelize….  Each member, by virtue of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation has received the right and duty to the apostolate from the Lord himself.”

5. “And, finally, we evangelize because the Gospel is leaven for liberation and for the transformation of society.”  Our world “needs the values of the Kingdom and of Christ in order to bring about human development, justice, peace and harmony with God, among peoples and with all creation.”

Let us frequently reflect on these “core motives” of our call to mission, responding to Jesus’ words: “Follow me.”

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

  

Prayer for 4th Sunday

Is it not enough, Lord, for me to follow you?

must I also leave so much

and so many behind?

I would follow you, Lord,

to the ends of the earth

except I know where you are heading:

to Jerusalem, to Calvary and to the Cross.

I would follow you, Lord, but let me first say goodbye

to my past and to the people I hold dear.

Help me, Lord, to come before you

with open hands, heart and mind

that I might receive your grace

and love your presence and

contemplate your teachings

that I might also feed the multitudes

with fragments of your wisdom

and truth.

Let me follow in your Way, Lord Jesus,

mindful of the Cross yet knowing

though I stumble and fall many times

you will raise me up again,

and after my mission on earth has ended

you will lead me to the fullness of life

in your kingdom with all the saints

and all my family and friends

together with you in glory Forever.

Amen

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

ABOUT MARYKNOLL

We are a Catholic Society of priests and brothers based in the United States. We are dedicated to missionary work overseas in over 20 countries. Additionally, we animate Catholics in the United States to follow their own baptismal call to share God’s compassion and love with the poor, the sick, and all those in need.

OUR GENERAL COUNCIL

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Fr. James M. Lynch, Fr. Lam M. Hua, Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, Fr. Timothy O. Kilkelly)

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is overseen by our General Council, led by Superior General Rev. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.

OUR FOUNDERS

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Our Co-Founders Father Price and Father Walsh)

PLACES WE SERVE

EVANGELIZATION, PARISHES, AND PROJECTS

USA

STORIES OF MISSION

(Africa) Education and Formation of African Clergy

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region will provide tuition assistance to African clergy, male and female religious at institutes of higher education or specialized training. Read More

Stories of Our Global Mission

The calling of a lifetime
The life of a Maryknoll missioner is challenging, fulfilling, and deeply rewarding. Follow your baptismal call to mission by sharing God’s compassion with the poor, the sick, and people most in need.