A MISSION EMBODIED WITHIN HUMAN LIMITS
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us—the People of God, the Church—that first and foremost we are missionaries called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to whatever corner of the world we live in. This calling is not just for priests and religious, college professors and Bible scholars. This calling is not just for those selected to literally go to the ends of the earth. This calling is for all of us—moms and dads, business professionals, retirees and everyone in between. Each of us is invited to be part of something ever-new and always exciting!
And this, my friends, is incredible!
And at the same time, this can be challenging. (And maybe even a little scary, too.)
Such a good thing can appear challenging and scary, because as ordinary, everyday lay Catholics, we may feel inadequate and unversed. We may wonder how our simple, normal lives can possibly be missionary and evangelistic. But they can be ... and they are! Because God is calling each and every one of us to partake in a mission that is “above and beyond [our] faults and failings” (44).
As a stay-at-home mom of six children, my primary goal is to love my husband, and together help our children enter Heaven someday. “It is in the bosom of the family that parents are ‘by word and example ... the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children’” (CCC 2204; LG 11). Right there in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I am given my mission field: my family.
As a mom, I do many different tasks. I cook, clean, read aloud, snuggle, nurse the sick, wipe away tears, and make hot chocolate. The most important things I do involve passing on the Catholic Faith to my children—by attending Mass, frequenting the sacraments, teaching them to pray, introducing them to the saints, and celebrating feast days and holy seasons within our domestic church.
Some of my tasks I do quite well, and others ... not so much. In my mission, I am faced with my own limitations more often than I’d like to admit. But in all the trial and error, triumphs and failures, God allows my “shoes [to] get soiled by the mud of the street” more than once, so that I can realize that “perfection is not possible” (45).
What is possible is love and joy and faith. What is possible is taking “a small step, in the midst of great human limitations, [which] can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties” (44). No matter what our calling—whether priest, scholar, business man or homemaker—God is inviting us to step out in faith, to proclaim the Good News to our corner of the world. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it doesn’t have to be deep. In fact, “variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel” (40). All it has to be is you. You, “expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out ... abiding newness” (41).
With “the expression of truth [taking] different forms” (42), I bet Pope Francis would encourage us to make sure of one thing: keeping it simple. “The precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God ‘are very few’ ... ‘so as not to burden the lives of the faithful’” (43). I think this is a wonderful concept to ponder, as we close this first week of Advent. Within our vocation, within our own call to evangelize, Pope Francis is reminding us of very few precepts, small steps and limits. How merciful and gentle is our God!
What small step can you make to embrace your role as missionary in your corner of the world?
What few things are you doing, either alone or with your family, to keep Advent simple this year?
Sarah Damm is a Catholic wife and mother to six children, ages 3 to 11, living in Minnesota. She spends her days like many moms do—driving kids around, running errands, cooking meals and helping with homework. And in the thick of it, she and her husband strive to weave the Catholic faith, in all its rich beauty and tradition, into their daily lives as well as into how they celebrate holidays and holy days. Sarah enjoys knitting, reading and a good cup of coffee with a friend. She blogs at morethanenough7.blogspot.com.