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When it comes to mission, most of us make a sincere effort to do what we can. But there's something about the nature of it that makes me feel like I can never really do enough. It is true that most of my adult life has been poured into family responsibilities and the work of evangelization. Still, I know I've spent a considerable amount of time wishing I could do more.
Of course, intellectually I know that not many of us can leave everything behind. Not many of us can go to India or Africa, or even give the bulk of our time to volunteer across town. And when I'm honest, I have to admit that I can't even pray much.
But all that hasn't kept me from wanting to do my share, though there have been many times when I've struggled to figure out just what that is. In the thick of daily responsibilities, it has sometimes seemed like the work of reaching souls is meant for somebody else--somebody with more time, or money, or freedom. And there have been plenty of situations over the years that have left me wondering if it really is best to leave evangelization to the "professionals."
But in the three-and-a-half years I've been a full time editor with the Daughters of St. Paul, I've been privileged to work side by side with some of those "professionals." And if there's one thing I've experienced at the convent, it's proof that the mission doesn't belong to any of us. The salvation that is found in Jesus Christ belongs to him. But, our God shares.
God shares his work with us, so that we can share more of our lives with him and with one another. I witness that kind of communion in mission five days a week in Jamaica Plain. I can tell you that what is visible on the surface of all that goes on there--and there is a lot that goes on!-- isn't the primary mission of the place. No one's "job" is her purpose. Sisters are moved not infrequently to different tasks of their apostolate. They are disciples first, sisters second, and designers, managers, editors, illustrators, marketers, musicians and videographers, somewhere down the list. They give their time generously to their work, but strive to give their hearts even more generously to God and each other.
The work does have its sacrifices. I know how long the Sisters nursed their boiler along until there was no choice but to replace it. I know that most of the convent living spaces aren't air conditioned in the summers, and that the Chapel is freezing in the winter. I know that their diet consists of donated food, and that many of the Sisters use their small monthly allowances to buy something that is needed for the work they do, or a gift for a family member from their own store.
But I also know how contagious faith is when you interact with a Daughter of St. Paul at a JClub school book fair, a store, concert, or exhibit. I've seen how every person they meet doesn't just walk away with a book or CD, but with a smile and a share in the mission.
To support what others do for the sake of mission is to be a missionary. Writing the check, making the pledge, or putting the few extra dollars into the basket is important. But the primary work of mission is bringing us together for the sake of Jesus, and in his name. Mission is all about communion--the kind of communion that makes us shareholders in the Body of Christ.
You can share in the mission of Jesus with the Daughters of St. Paul during an October Novena Webathon. Join the Sisters in nine days of prayer, mission, service, and support at www.pauline.org this October 15-23.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.