Living World Mission Sunday

On World Mission Sunday, which this year is October 22, Catholics worldwide share in our universal worship -- in scripture and in Eucharist -- as we celebrate the missionary work of the Church. We pray that, like the day's theme chosen by Pope Francis, we will be inspired to find our "Hearts on Fire and Feet on the Move."

The Holy Father chose this topic from the Gospel of Luke when the disciples on the way to Emmaus recognized Jesus after he explained the words of the prophets that pointed to Him and then, in the breaking of the bread. As missionary disciples, we, too, must let the Word of God and the Eucharist touch our hearts so deeply that we cannot help but share our faith with others -- our feet must move as we evangelize with our daily lives.

This all sounds very heady; how do we put it into practical terms? Very simply, to live the message of World Mission Sunday, we must love one another.

Each day, we can find so many "little ways" as Saint Therese, patron of the missions, called them. Is there someone with a fussy child in line at the grocery store? Let them go ahead of you -- really go out on a limb and ask other people to let them go first. You'd be amazed at how many people will smile and recognize what they should have seen for themselves! As you wait that extra time, pray for people who will never see the array of food we have in our stores.

Is someone you know a caretaker for an elderly parent or disabled child? Offer a few hours of your time to give them a much-needed rest. Or make sure their leaves are raked before yours, and their driveway is shoveled first. While you do these things, pray for them, that they may have peace of mind and heart in their own service to others.

Once you've embraced this "World Mission Sunday" way of living, it may be time to make the big leap and go public. Mark yourself as a Catholic Christian. Wear a crucifix or a miraculous medal; say grace -- out loud -- in restaurants. We took the big leap many years ago: there has been a three-foot-tall statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the front garden of the last few houses in which we've lived! We've moved five times since He first came to our house. New neighbors know who we are before we say a word!

Finally, be sure to regularly support the men and women whose feet are literally on the move for the Gospel -- foreign missionaries. Give to the missions:

- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.