The Anytime Missionary

For the past month or so, the Church has been celebrating the Easter season, (because why limit Easter to one day?!). If you’ve been following the daily Mass readings as of late, you’ve have undoubtedly journeyed with the apostles on their rip-roaring adventures in the Acts of the Apostles. We have everything from preaching the Gospel to giant crowds, threats of persecutions, cross country travels, miraculous healings, and even martyrdom. The apostles demonstrate for us a type of wild, nomadic freedom that is primarily driven by their testimony in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. They demonstrate for us the life of a missionary disciple, set apart to tell the Good News.

So Much Freedom

            I remember the first time I met a missionary. Yes, the Church calls all baptized members of the Church to

participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God
— Catechism of the Catholic Church 1270

but this was the first time I met someone who was living out their call to be a missionary disciple in a concrete way. He and his wife were full time missionaries in Mexico. They were in love with the Lord but also in love with each other. They lived a simple life in the desert of General Cepeda, Coahuila, ministering to the poor, living in community, and raising their own family. Their stories of the mission life sank down deep into my heart with a romantic ache. This missionary family spoke with so much conviction, so much truth, so much freedom. Their life was something I knew I wanted, something I thought I must be called to.

Throughout my high school years, I sought out any opportunity to be a missionary, because at the time, I assumed that meant going out and doing some sort of service in the name of Christ. I went with my high school Key Club to make sandwiches for the homeless. I went on work camp weeks with my youth group. I even signed up to go on a foreign mission to General Cepeda so I could see first hand the life of a full time missionary. I was so obsessed with controlling what I did that I started losing sight of who I was called to be.

Desk Job

I will break the news to you that I am not a full time missionary in Mexico. No, my husband and I live outside the perimeter in Atlanta. We have a small apartment that snugly fits our family of three, a car payment, and a crazy calico cat. For a long time, I scoffed at people who had a life like mine. I thought, “A desk job?? How TERRIBLE – how constricting!” I thought the ragamuffin freedom of the apostles was only possible being dirty, wearing a long skirt, and singing praise and worship in Spanish. And for a beautiful, hand picked few, it is. But that’s not what the Lord has asked me to do.

Pentecost is coming – the beautiful solemnity where we celebrate and remember the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in the upper room. The actions of the apostles in their wild book of Scripture are only wild because the catalyst was the Holy Spirit. Our late Holy Father, Pope St. John Paul II writes in his letter to the Church, the mission of the Church… is God's work…the work of the Spirit” (Redemptoris Missio 24). Freedom in Christ is freedom in the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us “witnesses and prophets” (cf. Acts 1:8; 2:17-18), able to share our experience of Christ and bring others into His Truth. The Spirit makes us brave, makes us joyful, and makes us ready to bear any hardship for Christ. The apostles let the Holy Spirit in, and it changed their life.

Hidden Salt

It took me a long time to understand that the Holy Spirit wasn’t bound by my interpretation of Him. Yes, the Spirit is a Him, and not an “it.” He is a Person, an intimate friend who guides us in the will of the Father to live our lives in the Truth and Love of His Son, Jesus Christ. God didn’t ask me to be a missionary in Mexico because He wants me to be a missionary in my home.

He calls me to zealous, missionary discipleship when I’m changing my son’s diaper, when I’m at school, and when my prayer life doesn’t look like it did four years ago. I wasn’t wrong in thinking the missionary life was meant for me because it is meant for me, and it’s meant for you. Everyone is called to be a full time missionary. We already possess the Holy Spirit within us – we simply have to invite Him to act in our lives every single day.

Come Holy Spirit 

Sometimes the mission is obvious for all to see, but most of the time, we participate in a mission hidden from the world. I believe God allows us to remain hidden in our missionary work because He wants us to offer it to Him alone. After all, the majority of the life of Christ is completely unknown. The Lord delights greatly to set us as a city on a hill, or a light in the darkness, but also sees the necessity of the ordinariness of salt. God loves the hidden mission field because He handcrafts it to each of His children and their particular vocation.

How will you let the Holy Spirit in today? How will you let Him transform the ordinary to make it extraordinary? If we are to be missionaries, we are doing the work of the Holy Spirit. What we do every day, even the most routine actions, can be done in great love for God. And I can assure you - life will be just as joyful, just as meaningful, and just as ragamuffin-esque as the apostles even in the hidden mission with the Holy Spirit.

ABBY BETTENCOURT

Abby is a Birmingham, Alabama native currently living in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the Director of Campus Ministry at St. Pius X Catholic High School, and a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She loves making artwork, spending time with family, and is married to her best friend, Taylor. Abby and her husband have one brand new baby!