Hearts on fire, feet on the move (cf. Lk 24:13-35)
We begin the missionary month of October by celebrating the feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, also known as St. Therese of Lisieux, is recognized as the patroness of missionaries. Her zeal for mission is evident in her ardent desire to dedicate herself to proclaim the Gospel. It was that flame of faith burning in her heart that moved her to proclaim the joy of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
“In spite of my littleness, I have the vocation of the apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your name…
One mission alone would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles! I would be a missionary, not for a few years only, but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages…”
Despite not physically going on mission herself, she supported missionaries through her prayers, letters of encouragement, and daily sacrifices. St. Therese understood that charity and intercessory prayer are essential to witness the joy of the Gospel, even more so than projects and programs. Her example teaches us that missionary work is not limited to a select few, but that all the baptized are called to be missionaries in their own way. All baptized, all sent!
“I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action…”
In today's world, the Church is called to reach the peripheries, including the digital streets where many young people spend their time and seek meaning and interconnection. St. Therese's example reminds us that missionary zeal is not limited to physical presence, but can also be expressed through prayer and acts of love in the digital world. Just as she supported missionaries from her monastery, we too can support the Church's mission by interceding for the spread of the Gospel and by being witnesses of Christ's love in our online interactions.
“I saw and realized that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place…”
St. Thérèse's desire to be a missionary reflects the universal call to mission that we all receive. Her example challenges us to embrace our role as disciples of Emmaus, who encountered the risen Christ and were filled with a burning desire to share the Good News. Their hearts on fire, moved them to set their feet on the road. Initiating the missionary month of October St. Thérèse's message is particularly relevant. She shows us that even in our weakness and limitations, we can make a significant impact through our prayers, acts of love, and joyful witness to the Gospel. Let us be inspired by her example and respond to the call to be missionaries in our own time and place.
“In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love”.