October 13th 1917 was the culmination of the series of apparitions of our Lady to the three seers at Fatima which began on 13th May of that year. That day happened to be a day of torrential rain in spite of which, a huge crowd of about 70,000 people of various sorts had assembled there in order to witness the miracle which our Lady had promised to work for them in testimony to the truth of Her apparitions to the three seers, and to the truth of the heavenly messages which She had been delivering to them for the good of the Church and for the salvation of souls. On that day, Sr.Lucia tells us, ‘a little later, we saw the flash of light, and then our Lady appeared on the holmoak.’ ‘What do you want of me?’ Sr. Lucia asked our Lady. And our Lady in reply said, ‘I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in My honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the Rosary everyday.’ Then, ‘looking very sad, our Lady said: “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.” Then, opening Her hands, She made them reflect on the sun, and as She ascended, the reflection of Her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself’ and that, says Sr.Lucia, ‘is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun’ which began to perform a most enchanting dance of multi-coloured light in the sky until, suddenly, it began to fall rapidly towards them in a most threatening way, seeing which the whole crowd fell to the ground on their knees with loud cries of contrition for their sins until the sun returned to its usual place and began to shine as usual in the sky.
What is most interesting and edifying in this final apparition of our Lady at Fatima is the name by which She described Herself to them. She Who had described Herself as ‘the Immaculate Conception’ at Lourdes to St. Bernadette, described Herself as ‘the Lady of the Rosary’ to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco at Fatima! What does our Lady declare Herself to be by naming Herself as the Lady of the Rosary? Quite simply and forthrightly She was declaring to one and all and forever, that She is the Virgin of Nazareth to whom the Angel Gabriel sent by God declared :Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women! For, behold you shall conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus...The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore that one born of you will be Holy and will be called the Son of God.’ She is that singular Virgin of virgins who, in this manner, conceived God’s only-begotten in His holy human nature in Her womb and brought Him as Her ‘first born’ into this world as ‘Mother inviolate’ and ‘Mother undefiled’ and ‘wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger’ in Bethlehem. She is that Virgin Mother who bore and carried Her divine Son in Her womb to Her cousin Elizabeth’s house so that Her son, still in her womb, might be filled with the Holy Spirit by the Son of God patiently becoming incarnate in Her own womb. She is that Virgin Mother who presented Her divine Son incarnate as Jesus, in the Temple, along with St.Joseph, and heard that holy man Simeon declare that Her divine Son Jesus is the ‘salvation’ prepared by the Lord God ‘for all the peoples of the world.’ She is that Virgin Mother who lost Her twelve year old divine Son and found Him after three days in the Temple ‘sitting in the midst of the doctors’ and heard Him personally declare His divine Sonship to them saying that He was ‘about His Father’s affairs.’ And She is the inviolate Virgin Mother who witnessed Her incarnate divine Son increase ‘in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man’ and fulfil the just requirements of the Law in Her humble home for Him in Nazareth for thirty long years. She is the Lord God’s faithful Virgin for whom Her Divine Son worked His first miracle and sign during the marriage feast in Cana to indicate Her divinely ordained participation in His mission to give us eternal life when His ‘hour’ will have come. Accordingly, She is that Immaculate Virgin Mother of sorrows who stood united in the Holy Spirit with Her divine Son’s obedience of faith to His Eternal Father on the Cross, and heard Him declare His Eternal Father’s word to Her ‘Woman, behold your son,’ and became the mediatrix of His forgiveness of sins for all those sinners who would come to Her from generation to generation from the day of Her consecration as the Virgin Mother of the Church in the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day, and humbly implore Her: ‘pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death’ and ‘pray for us O holy Mother of God that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.’ In sum, by calling Herself ‘the Lady of the Rosary’ the Blessed Virgin Mary confirmed the historical truth of all that is communicated about Her and Her divine Son by the Apostles and through their accredited evangelists in the four gospels accounts of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ for us and for our salvation and the related dogmas of the Catholic Church; and thereby She definitively condemned all the bogus claims to the contrary by all self-styled rationalist scholars who deny the pristine nature of the historical truth of these four gospel accounts!
The Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternal invitation to all those who choose to grow as Her children in Christ, to pray the Rosary and meditate on its twenty mysteries, is simply Her call to them to become personally one with all the dimensions and activities of Her personal life with the Blessed Trinity in Her Immaculate Heart. Only those who desire to become pure of heart in the Holy Spirit can accept this call of the Blessed Virgin to them.
MISSION SUNDAY 2017 - 15TH OCTOBER, 2017
Rediscovering Mission at the Heart of Christian Faith
‘Rediscovering Mission at the Heart of Christian Faith’ is the theme for World Mission Sunday 2017, chosen by Holy Father Pope Francis which invites us to understand more than ever that our ‘mission’ constitutes an essential aspect of the ‘Christian faith’; we are sent to our brothers and sisters in order to bear witness of our faith in Christ and to proclaim his Gospel. Beginning with the Second Vatican Council, the Church has worked to restore the essential importance of every baptized person’s missionary dimension.
Faith and Mission are directly proportionate: Pope John Paul II asserted that “mission is an issue of faith, an accurate indicator of our faith in Christ and his love for us” (RM 11). Similarly, Pope Benedict XVI writes: “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.”
Pope Francis exhorts us repeatedly to go out of the temple’s sacred walls and to make sure that our Church becomes a Mission Centered Church. In order to understand this issue better, let us not simply say that the Church has a mission, but that the mission depends on the church to continue. This assertion encourages us to make a reflection: God, who has the mission of saving the world, uses the Church as an instrument to achieve it!
We are currently experiencing a real missionary shift across the country. We are witnessing a growing awakening of the missionary spirit that will support our pastoral conversion and the revival of our Christian communities. Looking at the new Areopagus, the new meetings taking place and the subsequent experience gained from these encounters will result in new ways to transmit the faith and the new evangelization.
What if we develop a passion for mission and we commit ourselves even more in the joy of the Gospel and the Evangelization? To achieve a missionary revival, we must enter into the dynamism of a continuous conversion to the Gospel, the sacraments, the fraternal and missionary communion. It is a complex program but also one that is highly attainable.
CHURCH WHICH GOES FORTH
The Word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth”. Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3:10) and led the people towards the promise land (cf. Ex 3:17). To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer. 1:7). In our day Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.
The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples felt it as they returned from their mission (cf. Lk 10:17). Jesus felt it when he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and praised the Father for revealing himself to the poor and the little ones (cf. Lk 10:21). It was felt by the first converts who marveled to hear the apostles preaching “in their own native language” (Acts 2:6) on the day of the Pentecost. This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present. The Lord says: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1:38). Once the seed has been sown in one place, Jesus does not stay behind to explain things or to perform more signs; the spirit moves him to go forth to other towns.
God’s word is unpredictable in its power. The Gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). The Church has to accept this unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking.
The Church’s closeness to Jesus is part of a common journey; “communion and mission are profoundly interconnected”. In fidelity to the example of the master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all; to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people; no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem; “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people (Lk 2:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of “an eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tongue and tribe and people” (Rev 14:16).
Welcome and Gathering (Gather and welcome the participants to the liturgy around an altar with the pastor, a bible, globe, sandals and two candles).
World Mission Sunday was proposed by Pope Pius XI in the year 1926 and we celebrate the 91st anniversary this year. Evangelization takes place all over the world in obedience to the missionary mandate given by Jesus, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28: 19-20). Through these words Jesus invites his disciples to spread the message of Good News to all, in all times, so that all have the opportunity to come to the knowledge of truth. This is an invitation to every Christian to go ‘beyond the frontiers’ of Christian community; to the world at large, to those who have no knowledge of the Good News. We are called to this Eucharistic celebration to offer our prayers and our generous financial support, through the Society of Propagation of the Faith, to continue the mission of our Lord. We gather today precisely to worship God, creator of the universe and Lord of all. Even though God is all powerful, He exercises His power by showing mercy to sinners.
Lord, I have not listened to and meditate upon Your Word. Lord, have mercy. Lord, I have failed to heed to your call to live by Your Word. Christ, have mercy. Lord, I have seldom shown enthusiasm to proclaim the Good News. Lord, have mercy.
May the Almighty God have mercy on us, may He forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life.
O God, whose will it is that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Look upon your abundant harvest; send numerous laborers who will proclaim the Gospel to every creature, so that your people, gathered by the word of life and sustained by the power of the Sacraments, may advance in the path of salvation and love. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
1st Reading: Isaiah 45.1 & 4-6
Responsorial Psalm: 96.1 & 3-5 & 7-10
2nd Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1.1-5
Gospel: Mathew 22.15-21
HINT FOR THE HOMILY ON WORLD MISSION SUNDAY 2017
Human beings cannot live alone. They belong to a society; they must maintain contact with others in relationships based upon friendship and collaboration. Hence, it is necessary to organize reciprocal relations and determine the rights and duties of each person. We may ask: Is religion associated in any way with the organisation of social and political life? We find the answer to this question in the Gospel of today. The Pharisees, together with sympathizers of King Herod, approached Jesus and asked him that provocative question: “Is it right for us to pay the tax to Roman Emperor or not?” (Mathew 22:17; Mark 12:14; Luke 20:22) The flattery that is used to introduce this question was not sincere. Any answer might be seen as double- edged. If Christ said “No” he would be identifying his mission as another series of political revolutionary movements.
In his reply, Jesus does not answer the original question but he announces what seems to be engagingly vague: “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12:17) What does that mean? What must we give back? What part of this tax has been stolen from us? What part doesn’t belong to us? If one keeps Caesar’s coins in his pocket, it means that one uses it and thus recognizes Roman power. One can’t invent religious scruples only when it is time to pay taxes. For Christians, the first teaching seems quite clear: It is a moral as well as a civil duty to contribute to the common good through the payment of taxes. No reason can justify the wanton destruction or theft of the state’s goods.
Whatever the type of society and whatever the political or economic policies of the government may be, the Christians possess the right and duty to tender their suggestions, to criticize and even to contest the various options taken, but they cannot act in such a way as to damage the civil community. However, Jesus does not stop at stating out duty to contribute to the common good through the payment of our taxes. He adds something that stands as revolutionary: “Give [back] to God what belongs to God”.
Give back what? Is there anything that doesn’t belong to Him? Then we must give him everything, but how? Just as the coin has to be returned to its owner, the emperor, because it bears his image, so we must return to God the creature bearing his image, so we must return to God the creature bearing his image. What is this creature? The first chapter of the Bible states: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) Here then is the creature that cannot fall under the ownership of anybody else but God. Nobody has a right to dominate us, to enslave us, to oppress us: we are sacred and we belong to God. To God alone we render worship, but in other things, we happily acknowledge and serve the secular powers, praying that they will rule wisely and justly.
World Mission Sunday gives us the opportunity to carry out the Lord’s exhortation in both ways: We could return to the poorest churches what they should have to pursue the mission of evangelization. In addition, we could show our gratitude to God for the mission that he has entrusted us at the heart of our Christian faith. On the contrary, it lies at the heart of the faith, all Christians are missionaries of the Gospel and they participate actively to the mission of Christ. Pope Francis calls us to a renewal of missionary outreach and to strive to reach the peripheries that need the light of the Gospel. “We are all invited to walk the streets of the world with our brothers and sisters, proclaiming and witnessing to our faith in Christ and making ourselves heralds of his Gospel.” (World Mission Day, 2013)
A UNIVERSAL COLLECTION FOR WORLD MISSION SUNDAY
The collection on World Mission Sunday is a “mandatory” universal collection. This means that all the Catholic communities of the world must remit the collection to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in its entirety. All the donations collected within the churches of the world on that day form the Universal Solidarity Fund for the poorest Diocese of the Church.
Statutes of the PMS (Pontifical Mission Societies) Vatican-Chapter 2, articles 7, 8 and 10
- This day is celebrated in all the particular churches as the feast of catholicity and universal solidarity. On this day, Christians throughout the world become aware of their common responsibility to the evangelization of the world.
- Bishops are invited to ask the people in charge of the Catholic organizations and also the Christians, to renounce, during all the celebrations of that special Sunday, to any other collection of particular nature. They should also ensure that all donations for the World Mission Sunday are exclusively remitted to the Universal Solidarity Fund and they should encourage their priests and laity in that spirit.
A LITURGICAL SIGN
The collection that takes place during the Eucharistic celebration is an act and a sign of solidarity and sharing. It represents our communion and our participation in the mission of Christ through our solidarity with the poorest churches of the world. This collection should not be substituted by a collection at the doors of the church, neither by a remittance of a surplus in comparison to the ordinary collection. Also, we cannot put into a common fund all the “mandatory” collections of the year and distribute them fairly between various projects of the parish. This would mislead the intention of the person who makes a donation to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith is the only recipient of the collection for World Mission Sunday.
A SIGN OF FRATERNITY AND SOLIDARITY
The universal collection for World Mission Sunday is unique: its fruits are distributed worldwide, according to the needs of the poorest Dioceses. Everyone contributes to the cause and this allows the survival of the poorest Dioceses, especially those who do not benefit from twinning or privileged contacts with the West. The universal collection provides each bishop the means and freedom of action for the formation of catechists, solidarity, priestly vocations and consecrated life, education, health care etc. Therefore, it is a tool of justice and fraternity between all the dioceses. Furthermore, it allows supporting the permanent effort of the Universal Church to go and proclaim the Gospel to all nations. This mandate, received from Christ, is borne by the baptized people and those who are jointly responsible for the Universal Mission along with the Church of Africa, Asia, America, Europe and Oceania. Have a great animation and especially, a fruitful mission!
THE MISSION ROSARY
The enlivening source of a merciful Christian life is prayer. May World Mission Sunday be a beautiful celebration of people who are open and available to express mercy towards their poorest brothers and sisters. May the merciful Father bestow upon the grace of forgiveness and open our heart to forgiveness and to give it in return. As a church, as a family, let us be merciful. Let us pray for the world mission in the Mission Rosary which encourages faithful to pray for the 5 continents of the world in five decades of the Rosary.
As followers of Christ we are all called to be missionaries - bringing Christ’s message to the whole world. One of the tools we can use to help us pray for worldwide mission is the Mission Rosary. The Mission Rosary enables our prayer to reach beyond the boundaries of our local concerns and to be united with the entire Church. The Mission Rosary can be prayed individually and with groups and is suitable for all ages. It is prayed like a normal Rosary but has an added focus. While meditating on each decade, represented by a distinct colour, the peoples of a particular continent are brought to prayer.
- Pray the first decade for Africa(green)
- Pray the Second decade for the Americas(Red)
- Pray the third decade for Europe(White)
- Pray the fourth decade for Oceania(blue)
- Pray the fifth decade for Asia(yellow)
How to pray the Mission rosary?
Introduce each mystery with the suggested reflection before praying each decade.
First Mission Mystery: Jesus is baptized
“He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free and to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour”. (Luke 4:18)
As we meditate on this mystery, we remember the peoples of Africa and their intentions. Let us also remember the missionaries working there. We pray: that all development and aid programmes will be respectful and worthy of God’s children; for an end to war and violence and for the peaceful growth of the young African church.
Second Mission Mystery: Jesus proclaims the Good News to all
In their own way each of the gospel writers emphasizes that Jesus was a foreigner wherever he went. In His public ministry, Jesus was an itinerant, moving from place to place, “with nowhere to lay his head...” (Matt 8:20) Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matt 25:35)
As we meditate on this second mystery, we remember the peoples of the America and their intentions. Let us remember the missionarie s working there. We pray: that the Church may continue to promote God’s kingdom of justice, love and peace and discover new ways of bringing the gospel into daily life.
Third Mission Mystery
Jesus heals the sick Jesus went all around Galilee teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. Those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints were all brought to him and he cured them. (Matt: 4:23-24) As we meditate on this third mystery, we remember the peoples of Europe and their intentions. Let us also remember the missionaries working there. We pray: that Europe may preserve, develop and share its rich Christian traditions; for the unity of Christians; for immigrants and for our own families and their particular needs. We also pray for all those who are suffering from illness in our families, in our communities and in our world.
Fourth Mission Mystery: Jesus offers the gift of life
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” She said, “What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink? “Jesus replied; “If only you knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water...whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again.”.... “Sir”, the woman replied, “Give me some of that water so that I may never get thirsty”. (John. 4:7-10; 14-15) As we meditate on this fourth mystery, we remember the peoples of Oceania and their intentions. Let us also remember the missionaries working there. We pray: that all the many remote Christian communities may play their part in the universal Church; and for Catholic communities which are small minorities.
Fifth Mission Mystery: Jesus teaches us how to pray
You should pray like this, “Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven”. (Matt 6:9-11) In baptism Jesus calls everyone to be a missionary, to share in the mission of revealing the kingdom of God. Missionaries (all the baptized faithful) are sent out into the world to evangelize, to spread the good news that God reigns. We do not need to go to other lands to do mission work. There are many ‘worlds’ around us, many ‘worlds’ in our families and in our communities that need to hear the good News. For some with the specific missionary vocation, that mission will take them to far-off lands. As we meditate on this fifth mystery, we remember the peoples of Asia and their intentions. Let us also remember the missionaries working there.
We pray: that Asia may open to the Good News of Jesus; for peace between the different faiths and that the poor be given their rightful place in society.
Hail Holy Queen...
St Joseph, Patron and Protector of the Universal Church, pray for us
St Therese, Patron of worldwide Mission, pray for us
St Francis Xavier, Patron of missionaries, pray for us