The word “mass” comes from the same route as “mission”. At each Mass, we are sent forthwith a mission. What is that mission? What is our primary mission as Catholics?
The words I remember concluding most Masses in my life were “go forth, to love and serve the Lord.” The Baltimore Catechism tells us very simply that we’re “to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him…”. There is the mission statement: to love and serve God.
You are to love and serve God. I am to love and serve God.
That does explicitly say I am to end abortion, or to feed the poor, or to free the unjustly imprisoned, or to resist same-sex marriage. It does not explicitly say I’m to join the Knights of Columbus or the Militia Immaculata or The King’s Men. It does not explicitly say I’m to volunteer to teach CCD or distribute Holy Communion or work at the church bazaar.
Does that mean those things are bad? No!
Does that mean those things aren’t important? No, they are important!
But they aren’t in the mission statement. Rather, they are implied in the mission statement. They are ways of carrying out the mission. They aren’t the mission.
The mission is to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him. If you’re doing that, you’re on-mission.
What if you’re not? Well, then you’ve lost the mission.
I think that was Pope Francis’ point – or one of them, at least – in his much-maligned statement about it being “not necessary to talk about [abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception] all the time”.
If you are so entirely focused on that very worthy cause that you have no other relationship with God, you’ve lost the mission. If you are so focused that you alienate other people, because they’re wasting their time serving in any other way–because any other service to God isn’t real service—then you’ve lost the mission. That doesn’t apply only to abortion but to any service.
If someone is called (called – by God) to serve in another way, they are not a bad Catholic. They are not failing in their mission. The way they are called to fulfill that great mission may be different than the way I’m called or you’re called.
So serve the Church: nationally, regionally, or locally. Give big or give small. Fight for truth or justice or freedom. Feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, pray for the dead. Heck, pray for me while you’re at it. Do any or all of these things (and if you do them all, tell me how you manage!)
But most importantly – all-importantly – keep the mission. Fight, but remember why you fight. Know and love God, while you serve Him. Know and love who you’re serving, and serve not the cause itself but Him.
Copyright © 2013, Joe Wetterling