A few years ago, I began reading Rachel's blog. She is a young mother with a bunch of kids, living her life as a devout Christian in the Catholic Church. I became one of many on-line groupies. One day, while talking to priest-friend Fr. Tim, I mentioned my new on-line bff and said that I read she lived in Augusta, his hometown. He laughed and told me that Rachel's husband was his bff and one of their 5 sons was his Godson. Here I was thinking for a year that Rachel lived on some Catholic commune in Wyoming, and now I find out that she and Padre are lifelong friends. Of course Father hooked me up and I got to actually talk to Rachel and then, gasp, actually meet her. She has been an encouragement, both in person and through her writing, on everything from mothering, to faith to natural family planning. She is witty, real, and sincere. And when I grow up, I want to be just like her. Her recent post could have come straight from my mouth (less eloquently of course). So many of my college friends and I talked about mission work and serving the poor overseas. Many of us have made brief stints to serve abroad, some of them are doing it full-time now. Lots of us, however, have entered the world of mommy-land where we only dream of "contributing" on such a grand scale again. Rachel puts it perfectly. Read down. You won't regret it.
The Mission Field (by Rachel Balducci)
"I used to imagine, years ago, that I would spend some time as a missionary in a third world country. Once I was married and had children, I assumed my husband and I would take our brood out amongst the poorest of the poor to spread the good news about God’s great love. As followers of Christ, we’re called to share this good news, and what better place than halfway across the globe!
And then I actually did grow up and get married and as the children came, practical life took over. Once I had these babies, I realized the incredible mission work of simply being a wife and mother — how much of myself it took to be the hands and feet of Jesus for these people living in my own home. I blinked and the vision of mission work was something of a distant dream, and that was okay. God had placed these precious souls in my care, and most days the energy to do that was the exact amount of wherewithal I possessed.
But it stayed on my heart, as my boys were very little, that sharing God’s love with others is a crucial part of Christian living. While my days consisted of wiping runny noses and stepping on Legos, I would every-so-often think about serving others and the importance of teaching my children to do the same.
“When they get older,” I would think, “we’ll take them out to the mission fields.”
Over time, I slowly realized that beyond looking after those in my immediate care, there were chances to spread God’s love at every turn. The joy of Jesus was a message for the entire world — not just a world away, but right here in my daily travels. I started to recognize opportunities to be a missionary in my favorite grocery store, at the boys’ soccer games, to the people beside us at Mass.
None of this necessarily meant preaching the Gospel — it just meant operating out of it. It was the reality that living what you believe can speak volumes, without having to climb up on one single soap box.
In this hurting world of ours, what so many people need is love. People need a reminder that they matter, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that Jesus loves them. People need to hear that truth — including you and me. Loving our neighbor is being in the mission field — and some days it takes even more energy than third world excursions.
Practically, of course, the world is filled with chances to serve others (beyond just being nice!). Now that our boys are getting older, I do pray for these opportunities. It’s important to learn early on that the world is filled with chances to serve others.
My husband’s work as an immigration attorney recently brought us on a mission adventure to a parish within our diocese. There is nothing like being at a Mass that is not in your primary language to make you feel the beauty of the universal church — but also make you feel like you are very, very far from home.
As we sat in that church, I was indeed half-way across the world, though I was only a half gas tank away from home. I was grateful for the chance to be a part of practical mission work, and moved by all the people whose lives are poured out for the less fortunate.
“The duty of the moment,” writes Catherine Doherty, “is the duty of God. Anything done for Him is glamorous, exciting — if only we can see it for what it is.”
In this messy world of ours, we have so many chances to help. Mission trips are important. Caring for the poorest of the poor is critical. Being the hands and feet of Jesus every chance we get, even in the smallest moments of our day — that is where we truly grow in our quest for holiness.
This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.