Redemptoris Missio 77: Cooperation In Missionary Activity

With this post, we commence a look at Chapter VII, “Cooperation in Missionary Activity.” This topic covers numbered sections through the 86th. Mostly, Pope John Paul II was looking at ways in which non-missionaries can assist missionaries and their mission of evangelization. Some traditional methods are discussed. In my thinking, something more is needed than the “traditional” support mechanisms of collections, vocations to religious life, and mottoes like, “Some give by going, some go by giving.” We have to think of the missionary apostolate as something that demands at least a little of everyone. Not just money. Not just young adult children. Not just that summer weekend to give the pastor a vacation.

Since they are members of the Church by virtue of their Baptism, all Christians share responsibility for missionary activity. “Missionary cooperation” is the expression used to describe the sharing by communities and individual Christians in this right and duty.

This is spot-on. Baptism is a sacrament of mission. This starting point is essential. Next would be what some of our Protestant sisters and brothers call a “close, personal relationship with Christ.” They are not wrong:

Missionary cooperation is rooted and lived, above all, in personal union with Christ. Only if we are united to him as the branches to the vine (cf. Jn 15:5) can we produce good fruit.

Next is the call to holiness for every believer:

Through holiness of life every Christian can become a fruitful part of the Church’s mission. The Second Vatican Council invited all “to a profound interior renewal, so that having a lively awareness of their personal responsibility for the spreading of the Gospel, they may play their part in missionary work among the nations.”(Ad Gentes 35; cf. canon law 211, 781)

This is an important emphasis in Vatican II. The Church never lost the notion, but too often permitted it to be obscured by institutional concerns and priorities.

Lastly, we need to think in wider terms. The mission of the Lord is not just traveling to far-off lands. Or even going door-to-door in our neighborhoods. On one level, it is quite simply living a holy life, and living it with others. The baptized do not retreat from the world, optioning themselves into conclaves of their own choosing and making. We have to set a positive example in neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and in our leisure:

Sharing in the universal mission therefore is not limited to certain specific activities, but is the sign of maturity in faith and of a Christian life that bears fruit. In this way, individual believers extend the reach of their charity and show concern for those both far and near.

A few traditional ideas:

  • They pray for the missions and missionary vocations.
  • They help missionaries and follow their work with interest.
  • And when missionaries return, they welcome them with the same joy with which the first Christian communities heard from the apostles the marvelous things which God had wrought through their preaching (cf. Acts 14:27).

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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