For their part, missionaries should reflect on the duty of holiness required of them by the gift of their vocation, renew themselves in spirit day by day, and strive to update their doctrinal and pastoral formation. The missionary must be a “contemplative in action.” He (or she) finds answers to problems in the light of God’s word and in personal and community prayer.
This is more true than it ever was. The secular world wants action, programs, to-do lists, mission statements, evaluations, and other tools that judge the outward effectiveness of a project. To a degree, organization is important. But getting sucked into programming is a rabbit hole.
My contact with representatives of the non-Christian spiritual traditions, particularly those of Asia, has confirmed me in the view that the future of mission depends to a great extent on contemplation. Unless the missionary is a contemplative he (or she) cannot proclaim Christ in a credible way. He (or she) is a witness to the experience of God, and must be able to say with the apostles: “that which we have looked upon…concerning the word of life,…we proclaim also to you” (1 Jn 1:1-3).
What sort of life might reveal this? Commitment to daily prayer, regular retreats, spiritual direction, and other aspects of the mystical life. Of course, it is incumbent on the institutional Church, pastors, religious orders, and associations to provide what is needed as people move into the missionary life.
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