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Father Muench Says...

The end is the beginning

May 22, 2024

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit to the apostles challenges them to go out into the streets and teach Jesus’ message to all. Today this continues to be the Lord’s challenge for us. We are sent just as the apostles were.

Each celebration of the Holy Mass closes with the simple, yet profound, challenge by the deacon. In the Latin liturgy, this conclusion to the Mass is simply, “Ite missa est.” “Go, the Mass is ended.” This is an important prayer. Do you understand the challenge? “Go.” You are called, this is your vocation, it is time to get busy. You have prayed enough, and now we are being sent by the Lord to transform the world by living a good life, bringing Jesus’ peace and love to others, bringing to them all that we have experienced as we celebrated the Mass.

Go; you have been blessed. Go; you have received the Body and Blood of our Savior, Jesus. Go; you have been empowered, and you can make the world a better place. Go and transform this world of yours. Go; everything you do this day is your Christian calling.

Those first apostles realized that they were sent. The Acts of the Apostles teaches us how those apostles were sent to be missionaries to many places in their world. They faced unique challenges, as well as persecutions. The Acts of the Apostles focuses on the life of St. Paul. St. Paul found conversion; he found faith in Jesus. Then he was sent on several missionary journeys throughout the Roman world, bringing Jesus to so many. These journeys finally led him to Rome, where he was martyred.

Today, our Catholic Church still sends out missionaries. Priests and religious sisters are sent to bring the love of God, the peace of Jesus, to other places, to other countries. There are still missionaries leaving home to transform this world to Jesus. They dedicate years – some stay in the field for a lifetime – bringing the world the power of Jesus’ message and teachings, the sacraments of the Catholic Church, and the happiness of being saved.

By the way, as you probably know, now, there are many missionaries from various countries coming here to our own diocese, our own country. We are in need of more priests, more sisters to carry on the work of the Catholic Church here. They are truly missionaries.

Now, I want to tell you, that many Catholic missionaries today are lay men and women, young and old. They volunteer – some for a year, some for more – to join in the ministry of the Catholic Church in other places, in other countries. They are truly witnesses to God’s love and peace wherever they go. They dedicate themselves to spend time to demonstrate by their lives and teaching their faith in God, their love of Jesus and their dedication to the Catholic Church.

Many of these lay missionaries are young, some college students, some recent graduates, who are willing to dedicate a year or two to be sent as missionaries. They put off developing a personal career to be missionaries, dedicating themselves to the Lord Jesus and to the Catholic Church. I have met so many of them, and I have always been totally impressed. They have so much life and so much faith. I always think of a woman I know, now married with a great family. When she graduated from college, she volunteered to be missionary. She dedicated two years to work with the Canoosian Sisters in the Sudan. She made a difference and continues to do so as a wife and mother.

Each time you attend Mass, listen carefully at the end of Mass. Pay attention to the deacon’s closing prayer. Remember, he is speaking to you. “Go.” Jesus has a plan for you today.

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