The following article was taken from the Spring 2014 SOLT Mission Magazine:
Dear Friends of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity,
The recently published Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, is pertinent to all Christians, but holds particular elements that are especially relevant to religious missionary communities. After reading the exhortation, there are a number of points that really struck me, a couple of which I will share below.
The first is the joy that should be present in the life of Christians, and in a particular way in the life of consecrated people. Giving one’s life entirely to the Lord is certainly a challenging path, but being able to dedicate one’s life in prayer, community life and in service to the Gospel is also an amazing privilege. By being joyful, not merely in a superficial way, but in an enduring, abiding manner, religious missionaries witness to the fact that it is always worthwhile to give one’s life to the Lord. Through their intimacy and communion with God, consecrated people are called to be a sign of the joy found in heaven! There is no more effective evangelizing instrument than the person who witnesses the profound joy of a life given to Christ. It is a testimony that must be present in order to give authenticity to our belief that we are called to live in communion with God in this life and the next.
As the General Superior of SOLT, one of my responsibilities is to visit the many missions of our community. One of the key indicators that I look for as a sign of the effectiveness of a SOLT team in mission is the joyful and peaceful spirit of the members of the team. Wherever authentic, abiding joy is present, almost certainly there is a corresponding effectiveness in the pastoral ministry of the team.
One of the other illuminating points of Pope Francis’s exhortation which I would like to mention here is the notion that our life is meant to be a mission that is constantly striving to share the Gospel with others. There is no taking a vacation from the work of evangelization or from religious life! There are always people to meet, people to speak with, and people in need of hearing the essential message of our salvation: God loves us personally; He became one of us in Jesus Christ; He died for us to save us from our sins; and, He opened the pathway for us to live with Him as His children. While it may not be easy to be an expert in all areas of Catholic doctrine, each of us can surely appreciate the great importance of sharing this essential message.
Following the exhortation of Pope Francis, I pray that each of us will be joyful missionaries who constantly look for opportunities in our conversation with others to share the cause of our joy, happiness and hope—Jesus Christ.
Fr. Peter Marsalek, SOLT
General Priest Servant
Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity