Mission and evangelisation are two indispensable and inherent tasks of the Church not only in contemporary time but since the time the Church was established, where in obedience to the mandate of Jesus, the disciples were determined to go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus have commanded (Mt 28:19-20). Thus, we see how the risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth. Therefore, as members of a missionary Church, baptised in water and spirit, we are called to confess the Faith in full adherence to the Word of God, celebrated in the Sacraments, and in lived in charity, the principle of Christian moral existence. All are called to mission… all- without exception – are called to evangelise.
Pope Francis in the many occasions of his audience with the catholic faithful in various places and cultures has been emphatically persistent in reminding his audiences that “all of us are invited to “go out” as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family.”
Attentive and ever obedient to our calling as religious-consecrated persons of the Church, all missionary endeavours are but natural realities of our journey. The mission of every religious derives from the Lord’s mandate and the life of God’s grace within us. As Catholics, and as religious we are privileged to receive the Lord’s charge of bearing witness to the Faith and to the Christian way of life as a service to our brothers and sisters, and as a fitting response to God (Redemptoris Missio, 11).
Conscious to these basic tasks of a missionary, in which by nature is particularly responsible with the evangelisation efforts, how does a Sacramentino missionary engage in a unique and distinct way when one is being sent forth for a mission? The Rule of Life of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament clearly mandates every member religious that, “Our idea is to live the mystery of the Eucharist fully and to make known its meaning so that Christ’s reign may come and the glory of God be revealed to the world” (ROL, 1). And “Following in the footsteps of Father Eymard, our mission is to respond to the hungers of the human family with the riches of God’s love manifested in the Eucharist” (ROL, 3). Apparently, the task is not merely about celebrating the Eucharist or bringing people to the Eucharistic celebration and adoration but to go beyond the tendency of religious devotion and piety that is, to consider its role with regard to humanity and its transformation. However, the movement of this transformation must start from the authentic participation and celebration of the Eucharist and deepening one’s commitment to Christ, which is directed to the on-going church renewal, and then to a larger social involvement, to become witnesses in the world as proclaimers and bearers of the Kingdom of God manifested in the Eucharist.
Last May 30, 2017 (Tuesday), during the Eucharistic celebration presided by Bishop Ronnie Bancud, SSS at the Provincialate House of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in New Manila Quezon City, the Provincial Superior Fr. Joseph Matitu, SSS officially sent-off Fr. Leonard Ayuyao, SSS for a mission in Ireland under the Ireland-Great Britain Province of the Congregation. Despite of being a newly ordained priest, Fr. Leo courageously took up the challenge and willingly submitted himself to become instrument of propagating the Eucharistic fire to our mission areas in Ireland. I am pretty sure that Fr. Leo has already, to a significant extent imbibed a Eucharistic heart that is ever ready to be taken, blessed, broken and shared for others. For indeed a genuine Sacramentino missionary must have these four Eucharistic virtues as a faithful manifestation to the charism of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament exemplified by its holy founder Saint Peter Julian Eymard.
To be Taken means to say ‘YES’ to the orders of our legitimate superiors, aware that the tasks being given is in line with the emerging ministries and apostolate of the Congregation. Obedience or submission to such orders is an act of humility and love, a selfless offering of oneself for the good of others. Like our Blessed Mother Mary at the Annunciation event, in her selflessness, was open to the angel´s visit. She recognized who was speaking. She listened, received and responded. In so doing, she shows us the way to respond to the Lord’s call in our own lives. Thus, once we are called to a particular mission we uphold our unwavering ‘Yes’ to our superiors cost what it may for us.
To be Blessed is to recognize our individual giftedness, talents, and capabilities. Superb eloquence and mental astuteness is not the requirement here but a trustful disposition and dependence to the provisions of God, materially and spiritually. With the formation that our religious have went through before they get ordained as priests or become perpetually members of the Congregation, is a helpful material for them to be ready for whatever missionary works entrusted to them. To be blessed is to be grace-filled. Only God can supply the necessary graces for one to develop and sustain in the mission.
To be Broken is to have a joyful and determined temperament amidst sacrifices, difficulties, and even unfavorable provocation encountered in the course of the mission journey. Immersing oneself into a new culture, environment, and people entail tough adjustments. Nevertheless, the processes of learning, adapting, and integrating are a welcome reality to a Sacramentino whose heart for mission is undaunted.
To be Shared is our capacity of the ‘Gift of Self’. The life and practice of the gift of one’s self consists in living as men “given” by love to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament through a life of union with Christ, life of self-denial, and life of service to others. The foundation of Fr. Eymard’s spirituality was what he called ‘the gift of self’. Just as God gave us everything in giving us his Son, and Jesus gave himself completely on the cross and in the Eucharist, so should our Christian lives be a total gift of self to Christ. Fr. Eymard teaches us that we are first of all disciples of Jesus Christ. Priests and religious are not to behave like the elite in the church. All are called to serve. As missionary priests and religious, therefore, the spirit of service is paramount; indeed, a Eucharistic life is a life in service for the others.
Bishop Ronnie in his homily during the send-off Mass of Fr. Leo said “we go for a mission not to introduce new things of the faith or to emerge into a place or people as someone different or superior from them. We go for a mission bearing in our heart, mind, and actions the identity of a Sacramentino.” The Eucharist that we celebrate and adore, Jesus manifests concretely his total gift of self, offering himself, that all us who believe may have life in abundance with him. In the same Eucharist where the Bread and Wine transubstantiated to his own Body and Blood is taken, blessed, broken, and shared is a highest exemplar of all our Eucharistic missionary endeavours. Praise God that our religious are open to every missionary calling and take it as a great opportunity and privilege so that the mystery of the Eucharist may be proclaimed and the Reign of Christ may come and his glory be revealed to the world.