We are all called to be missionary disciples, but what does that really mean? Disciples, apostles, evangelists, and missionaries all seem like lofty names for canonized Saints rather than terms we associate with contemporary Christians. If you’re like me, you’ve never been compared to Mother Teresa, and you’re a long way from earning a Vatican-issued halo. There is no concrete road map to Denver discipleship and there is no textbook to becoming a Colorado missionary. So where do we start?
We cannot share what we do not have. The first step to engage in the mission is to fall deeply in love with God. We grow in that love through prayer and the sacraments. Out of that relationship we discover that each of us has a unique role to play in spreading his Gospel. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how he wants you to cooperate with his design for your life. Ask our Lord to show you what specific gifts and talents he is calling upon you to share. Daily prayer, combined with a sincere desire to grow in love and accomplish God’s plan, will start to reveal his design. Listen and act boldly on his suggestions.
Like the early disciples, God is calling on us to be genuine witnesses. Share your faith with your neighbors, friends, family and strangers. Do your neighbors really know you are Catholic? Have you ever shared with your friends what Jesus has done in your life? Does that distant relative understand just how much you embrace Christ’s message of salvation? This can be as simple as how you decorate your house for holidays to hosting Bible studies in your home. Ask God who you should approach — he’ll tell you.
Start at your own parish. Find out what it needs and roll up your sleeves. Step out of the pew and instead of heading for the parking lot, ask what you can do to help. Lector? Eucharistic minister? Marriage prep teacher? Knight of Columbus? Choir member? Weekly Adorer? Don’t just be a once-a-week consumer at the Sunday Mass, be a regular contributor of your gifts and help build the Eucharistic community. If you don’t know your parish priest, introduce yourself and then ask how you can help. Trust me, they need you.
Get to know your Catholic faith better. If you love God, read his revealed truth in the Bible. Want to go deeper and really understand the depth, beauty and promise of the Faith? Then join the Denver Catholic Biblical School, enroll in the Augustine Institute or join a Bible study at your parish. Or if you want to learn on your own, find a course, lecture or Marian study guide that interests you and commit a few hours. Your weekly television sitcom or anxiety-inducing news program will get along just fine without you.
Help your Church and its ministries. God put money in your pocket for you to share it. Give generously to your parish offertory and support the diocese through the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. Help those Catholic schools, retired priests, seminarians and deserving charities. I have yet to meet anyone who regretted making a sacrificial gift to a worthy Catholic cause.
Becoming a missionary disciple is more about adopting a mindset than following some rubric. When you put Christ first in your life and pray for his inspiration, you’re already on the right path. Still need a little help? Ask the Blessed Virgin to bring you closer to her son and his Church. The early disciples all spent regular time with Mary — and they all have stained glass windows.