On a Mission from God

On a Mission from God

This morning we had a missionary priest visiting, a Marist Father from New Zealand who has been serving in the missions in Peru and Venezuela for the past thirty years. Now I love missionaries, but sometimes they can be a bit lackluster. This Father Tony, however, was a great storyteller.

We were riveted as he recounted the story of the first missionaries to Polynesia who set sail from France and immediately lost their rudder in the English Channel. Then one of them caught the Bubonic Plague while nursing victims in the Canary Islands and died and had to be buried at sea weeks later. He told us of the first missionaries to land in New Zealand and how the Maori people embraced Mary as the Mother of the World, anticipating her being named “Mother of the Church” by about thirty years. And he sang us a Marian hymn in Maori that was just… oh so beautiful.

At the end he’d totally won Bella over. During the collection I overheard her muttering a desire for “even a single penny” and I dug into my wallet and gave her a dollar—and each of the other kids a dollar—to give to the mission. I wish I’d had more to give, but as I handed it to her I heard an echo from today’s Gospel: What parent when his son asks for a loaf of bread would give him a stone? Or when her daughter asks for a penny would not give her a dollar? Oh Our Father in heaven gives us a hundredfold when we ask for his graces, especially when we beg for graces for other people. How blessed I was today to be able to teach that lesson with my action.

I thought of my friends in New Zealand and said a prayer for them. How blessed I am that this blog has brought me good friends in that far-off place on the other side of the globe. How blessed we all are to have the internet as a toll drawing us close to live in real communion in Christ.

And again I’m brought to think of how I can be a missionary and to wonder if this spot, this blog, isn’t my mission territory, my little outpost on the digital continent. That almost feels like cheating. It’s too easy. Can it really be God’s plan that I just write and write and write and bring Him here with me? And yet…. I also feel that He is with me in this place that is not a place. I know I need to get better at evangelizing all the people I meet face to face and yet I also know that I feel so very strongly that the Internet needs missionaries too and that my station in life, my situation means that perhaps at least for now I am well suited for such a calling.

My domestic church, my blog, my family, my online world…. both seem almost too good to be true. Do I really get to do that? Almost too easy. And yet what a great, great blessing.

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  • +JMJ+

    It’s the story about the foxes which fascinates me the most. Do you suppose it could be done with other animals? I’m thinking of raccoons in particular—and not just because of my Blogger avatar. =P

    Several years ago, I found the Web site of a man who had had several pet raccoons over the years and candidly admitted that they were quite a handful. For instance, if a raccoon grabs something, there is no way to get it to give it back on command; you have to trade a piece of food for it. In a raccoon’s mind, the pet owner said, everything which enters your house, including the possessions of your guests, belong to him—and barring thousands of years of domestication, there’s no way to change that.

    Dmitri Belyaev’s experiments seem to contradict that, but there’s also the question of how well something that worked for canines would work for procyonids. For another thing, raccoons born in captivity are already (by all accounts I’ve read) happy to take food from a human hand, so another behavioural trait would have to be selected for.

  • An interesting question. But look at the differences between domesticated dogs and cats. By far cats are much less trainable, much less likely to obey commands. I suspect there is something in the canine mind that is just more amenable to that kind of socialization. Perhaps because canines are naturally pack animals? If that’s the case, then I suspect raccoons are closer to felines than canines, being more solitary.