The document of Vatican II, Ad Gentes, which is the decree on missionary activity in the church points out three ways in which an ordinary practicing Catholic can contribute to the furtherance of mission work.
The first is ‘living a devout Christian life’. This may seem simple and remote but its implications are great. Imagine if every Christian lived the way Christ did. Being devout Christians is easier said than done. Our situations, circumstances or culture may influence us to act in ways that are not authentically Christian. It is when we are faced with such challenges and we yet choose to live according to the gospel that we truly live our faith authentically.
The second way is through ‘fervent service of God and neighbour’. Jesus’ teachings and example as delineated in the Gospel must be our signposts. One may ask how his/her service of people in his/her immediate proximity can contribute to the missions? It can, in as much as one is actively involved in bearing witness to Christ and His gospel. In this sense, one becomes a missionary oneself.
The third way is through ‘prayers and works of penance’. This is seemingly the easiest way. St Teresa of Child Jesus was pronounced patroness of missions by the Pope, without ever setting foot in a mission land. She devoted her life to praying for missionaries and their intentions. One can also offer up small penances and acts of self-abnegation for the success of missionary work.
These are three simple and practical ways the document gives us to involve ourselves in the missionary activity of the Church.
Cl Ian Pinto sdb