Ad Gentes now gives a list of ideal practices and qualities to have or to be developed by the missionary. I’ll outline them from the text below.
To start with, we have seven practices, or “habits,” including a “special” formation:
- For such an exalted task, the future missionary is to be prepared by a special spiritual and moral training.
- For (the missionary) must have the spirit of initiative in beginning, as well as that of constancy in carrying through what (she or) he has begun;
- (the missionary) must be persevering in difficulties, patient and strong of heart in bearing with solitude, fatigue, and fruitless labor.
- (The missionary) will encounter (people) with an open mind and a wide heart;
- (the missionary) will gladly take up the duties which are entrusted to (her or) him;
- (the missionary) will with a noble spirit adapt (her or) himself to the people’s foreign way of doing things and to changing circumstances;
- while in the spirit of harmony and mutual charity, (the missionary) will cooperate with his (or her sisters and brothers) and all who dedicate themselves to the same task, so that together with the faithful, they will be one heart and one soul (cf. Acts 2:42; 4:32) in imitation of the apostolic community.
These habits of mind should be earnestly exercised already in (her or) his time of training; they should be cultivated, and should be uplifted and nourished by the spiritual life. Imbued with a living faith and a hope that never fails, the missionary should be a (person) of prayer.
The council bishops also add these particular spiritual attitudes:
- Let (the missionary) have an ardent spirit of power and of love and of prudence (cf. 2 Tim. 1:7).
- Let (the missionary) learn to be self-sufficing in whatever circumstances (Phil. 4:11); always bearing about in (her or) himself the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may work in those to whom (she or) he is sent (2 Cor. 4:10ff.), out of zeal of souls,
- let (the missionary) gladly spend all and be spent (her or) himself for souls (cf. 2 Cor. 12:15ff.), so that “by the daily practice of … duty (the missionary) may grow in the love of God and neighbor.”
Thus obedient to the will of the Father together with Christ, he (or she) will continue His mission under the hierarchical authority of the Church.
Obviously, these are considerations which anyone, any believing Christian, would be well-served to have or to adopt. Are missionaries marked by having a generous portion of many or all of these? Has anyone any other comments?