Reflections on mission for November

Fr. Denis Carter has prepared reflections on Columban mission, adapted from the experiences of Columban Missionaries on assignments around the world. There is one reflection for each week of November.

Week 1: Spirit of God

God the Holy Spirit is the experience of God in our daily lives – a God who touches, inspires and urges us to be present to each other in our joys, pains and sorrows. God is a Spirit who helps us experience and appreciate our planet and re-create or re-generate the places we have tried to destroy by our ignorance and greed.

The Spirit of God ultimately brings vitality, healing and unity but via the cross. The Spirit of God helps us to be family and community again; to be Church, local and universal; to be a people reaching out beyond the limits of our normal natural boundaries to others, giving witness to a loving, forgiving, compassionate God. The task of evangelization or conversion to our faith is God’s business. No matter where we go, we will surely find that God is there before us.

Frank Nally – Ireland, Philippines, Britain

Reflect: What ways can you see the Spirit of God working in your lives and in society?

Week 2: Warped values

Improving access to clean water is one of the Millennium Development Goals, signed up to by most nations in the year 2000. Yet, I am always appalled at the cavalier way statisticians, who have plenty to eat and drink themselves, talk about reducing the number of people without potable water from 1.2 billion to 550 million by 2015. Why should anyone be drinking polluted water in 2015?

It has been estimated that it would cost $170 billion to provide clean water and healthy sewage for all. Surely such a cost is not beyond the resources of our present global economy. The Gulf War of 1991 cost $80 billion. The Iraq war has already cost more than $300 billion.
This shows how totally skewed our value system is. There is always plenty of money to fight wars but insufficient to end poverty and environmental degradation and provide people with clean water.

Sean McDonagh – Philippines, Ireland

Reflect: What can Christians do to change the destructive priorities we see in the world?

Week 3: Ecological Conversion

We have a duty and an obligation to act to reverse the causes of ecological problems such as global warming and species extinction and to educate people about these issues. Our notion of God as Creator inspires us to fight disease and seek cures for HIV/AIDS but questions our manipulation of nature through genetic engineering. It questions the monopoly of transnational companies over intellectual property rights and indigenous knowledge. Our notion of God as Creator impels us to promote alternative technologies and seek a cumulative decrease in our reliance on fossil fuels and other pollutants that imperil the quality of life of future generations.

On 1 Jan 1990 Pope John Paul II, said that, “Christians, in particular, realise that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith”. Ten years later, he called for Christians to undergo an “ecological conversion”.

Frank Nally -Ireland, Philippines, Britain

Reflect: In what ways can Christians be “salt” and “leaven” in today’s world?

Week 4: Mission Spirituality

For me, Columban spirituality is based on a call to be human. God created every person to be human, in God’s own image. There are three characteristics to being human: powerlessness, vulnerability and limitation. To love is to experience these things. Humanity rejected this plan of God – Original Sin – because people did not want to be powerless, vulnerable and limited. In other words, did not want to be human. The result is a world full of victims of poverty, war and violence.

Baptism is a commitment to be human in this world of inhumanity. This understanding has inspired Columbans to reach out beyond boundaries of culture, language, faith, nationality and social class to the victims of structures which deny life to humanity. In doing so, we experience God’s invitation to be human.

Ray Collier – Philippines, Britain

Reflect: Think of some of the ways in which you could focus on the positive and loving aspects of your humanity this coming week.

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