Divine Word Missionaries
The Mysteries of Mission
“What we have seen and heard we proclaim in turn to you
So that you may share life with us… and
that your joy and our joy may be complete….” (1 Jn 1:3-4)
This Eucharistic Marian Year edition of “Mysteries of Mission” (MOM) is available in a handy-sized booklet (4.5 x 6 inches, 32 pages). You may order your own copies for gifts to family and friends, or sponsor booklets for missionaries and mission partners (e.g. catechists), and for those who cannot afford. All proceeds will help support missionaries and their work of evangelization through a Mission Trust Fund, c/o SVD Mission Office, Philippines.
Logos Publications, Inc 1916 Oroquieta St., Sta Cruz, Manila, Philippines Tel/Fax: (02) 711-1323/732-2737 E-mail: email@example.com
(Logos Publications, Inc is a print apostolate of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD: Societas Verbi Divini), an international religious-missionary congregation of priests and brothers serving in more than fifty countries all over the world.)
Second Printing: March 25, 2005 (Eucharistic Marian Year edition) Printed in the Philippines
First Published: September 8, 2003 (Year of the Rosary edition)
Divine Word Missionaries, Techny, IL 60082-6099
Printed in the United States of America and Brisbane, Australia
Copyright© 2002, 2005
Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) _______________________
All Rights Reserved. Use of these materials for advertising or profit-making is strictly prohibited. Web link for non-commercial religious and educational purposes to promote this prayer may be granted with written permission from Logos Publications, Inc and/or SVD Mission Office, Philippines. Proper attribution to Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) and Logos Publications, Inc is required.
Published With Ecclesiastical Approbation
Society of the Divine Word ( SVD) Generalate, Rome, July 9, 2003
Archdiocese of Manila,October 1, 2003
Archdiocese of Chicago, August 2, 2004
Diocese of Nagoya (Japanese edition), September 5, 2005
Archdiocese of Manila (Pilipino edition), October 1, 2005
This rosary meditative prayer, the “Mysteries of Mission,” first came into light on World Mission Sunday (October 20, 2002), and has been written as an offering of love and thanksgiving to the Holy Triune God, a tribute to all missionaries, and a simple and prayerful way to celebrate with Mary the Year of the Rosary.
Pope John Paul II marked the beginning of the 25th year of his papacy by introducing changes in the centuries-old Rosary. In his apostolic letter, “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” (16 October 2002), His Holiness proclaimed the year from October 2002 to October 2003 The Year of the Rosary, and exhorted Catholics to revive their faith by meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life “in union with, and at the school of, His Most Holy Mother.” In addition to the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the Holy Rosary, His Holiness proposed adding another set of mysteries, “The Mysteries of Light,” which highlight five significant moments of Christ’s public life, namely, “(1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the Wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.” His Holiness assured the Church community that the addition of these new mysteries follows very faithfully “any essential aspect of the prayer’s traditional format,” and is only “meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary’s place within Christian spirituality.”
Pope John Paul II’s meditation on the “The Mysteries of Light” was the inspiration behind what will be referred to here as “The Mysteries of Mission,” namely, the mysteries of “the Incarnation, the Epiphany, the Calling of the Twelve, the Washing of the Feet, and the Mission Sending of the Disciples to the World.”
The “Mysteries of Mission” are rooted in Holy Scriptures, particularly in the Gospels. A meditation on each of the mysteries will include a scriptural passage with short mission reflections. The journey of every missionary is unique, and the mission reflections are by no means exhaustive. Each mystery is immensely profound and continues to invite everyone to deeper contemplation and humility as we allow God to commune with us and lead us in our particular mission situation.
It is our prayer that meditating upon these “Mission Mysteries” will enkindle the spirit of all missionaries worldwide and enrich their mission spirituality. But the mysteries are really meant for everyone since every human being, as a child of God, is called to share in God’s mission. It is then also our prayer that meditating upon these mysteries will lead everyone to a greater love of God’s mission, a more generous response to God’s missionary calling, and a closer bond with all missionaries around the world.
May our Loving God, in union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Lady of the Rosary and Mother of the Mission, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and all missionary saints and martyrs, continue to guide our missionary journey and sustain our missionary spirit.
Scriptural Passage: “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of [all]; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it…. The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:1-5, 14).
Mission Reflections: The Triune God is the source of mission, and the mystery of the Incarnation forms the very foundation of missionary life. We recall the Incarnation of the Divine Word in the prayer of the Angelus. God is the Mission and The Missionary. The central message of mission is that God has become one with us in our humanity and in our world to share our joys, our struggles, our sorrows, and our hopes. For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into the world, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (Jn 3:16-17). It is, therefore, fundamental for every missionary to identify closely, not only with the recipients of the Word, “the Mission,” but also with the Word made flesh, “the Missionary of all missionaries.”
Scriptural Passage: “After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage….’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Mt 2: 1-2, 9-11).
Mission Reflections: The first witnesses of God’s coming into the world in a human flesh were ordinary people with humble hearts – Mary and Joseph, the poor shepherds, and the magi (“wise men”). Because the magi from the east were humble enough to bend down, “falling to their knees,” and wise enough to admit that they knew only too little, God manifested the mysteries of the Mission when, after a long and difficult journey, they finally “saw the child with his mother Mary,” and God “filled them with delight.” A missionary is one who bends down in humility, listens to and is led by the Spirit, recognizes and shares God’s many gifts, and is filled with a joyful and grateful heart. Like the magi on a journey facing many challenges and uncertainties, amidst vast streams of darkness, a missionary is also one who has to pass through many struggles but never loses sight of the light, “the Star of Light.” God’s epiphany of the Mission is universal. The magi from the east represent all people of good will and peace, all migrants from diverse races and cultures, and all the many faces of mission.
Scriptural Passage: “He [Jesus] now went up onto the mountain and summoned those he wanted. So they came to him and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message….” (Mk 3:13-14).
Mission Reflections: Before calling the twelve disciples and before all other major events in His life, Jesus always went up a mountain in order to pray. A missionary is a person of prayer, always seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit in every decision that he or she makes. Jesus called each missionary by name (personal call), to be with him (discipleship/religious), and to be sent out (missionary). The numerical figure, “twelve,” symbolizes the Church, which is, by her very nature, missionary. The call to discipleship is a call to participate in Jesus’ prophetic mission “to bring the good news to the afflicted..., to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, [and] to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19). Jesus' missionary activity reaching out to all is concretely manifested in His encounter and dialogue with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:1-42), for every missionary is called to reach out to everyone, and to open up in compassion and respectful dialogue with faith-seekers, with people who are poor and marginalized, and with people of other cultures and religious traditions. Called to share the fullness of God’s love in the life and mission of Jesus, the disciples were then sent to proclaim the message of the Kingdom (Lk 9:2). The call to participate in Jesus’ mission is for all, and requires a more generous response for “the harvest is rich but the labourers are few” (Lk 10:2).
Scriptural Passage: “They were at supper… and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand….’ When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’, he said, ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that as I have done, you also may do’” (Jn 13: 2, 4-7, 12-15).
Mission Reflections: Jesus’ washing of the feet of His disciples exemplifies missionary service. A missionary is one who closely follows the life of the Master who “came not to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45). Jesus taught his followers, by His example, to be missionaries of service and love for others. In the same way, a missionary must also teach by example, by the witness of his or her Christian life. As the feet symbolize mobility, a missionary constantly follows the steps of Jesus, always ready and willing to go and serve anywhere and anytime she or he is sent. The following in Jesus’ footsteps, however, is not easy. Washing the feet of others demands a lot of humility and sacrifice. A missionary is, therefore, one who must renounce self, take up his or her cross, and follow in Jesus’ footsteps (Mt. 16:24). The act of washing not only symbolizes humble service, self-emptying, and sacrifice, but also God’s unconditional love, washing away all that hinders us from becoming genuine missionaries, and messengers of the Good News.
Scriptural Passage: “Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them…. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’” (Mt 28:16-20).
Mission Reflections: Sent by the Father in communion with the Holy Spirit, the Risen Christ now sends His disciples to continue the Divine mission. “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you” (Jn 20:21). With total surrender and trust in the abiding Presence of the Triune God, a missionary is sent to be a witness to hope and new life in the world. Although it was initially offered to particular people at a particular time and place, the mission is now constantly offered to everyone, and transcends the barriers of culture, time and space. “It is the Lord” (Jn 21:7) who calls, who washes, and who sends. St. Paul asks, “How then are they to call on him if they have not come to believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them? And how will there be preachers if they are not sent? As scripture says: How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of good news” (Rm 10: 14-15). Even at the twilight of one’s life, a missionary remains a beacon of the Good News and a living reminder to everyone that God loves us so much and will always be with us.
Every missionary (i.e. every Christian) can always follow the Spirit’s inspiration as to when to pray the “Mysteries of Mission”.
In harmony with the liturgical season, an appropriate time to pray the “mission mysteries” would be in October, the month of the rosary and mission, especially on “World Mission Sunday”. Also appropriate would be during the “Church Unity Octave”(January 18-25), Vocation Awareness Week, Mission Week, Pentecost, and on certain feast days such as the feast of the Epiphany and the feasts of the apostles and missionary saints, martyrs and blessed servants of God.*
*The following is a partial list of missionary saints, martyrs and blessed servants of God, and their feast days: (more are included in the booklet)
The “Mysteries of Mission” (MOM) is a set of Rosary Gospel themes that we can meditate on more meaningfully, not merely as a distinct addition to, with a life and spirit of its own, but as one that harmonizes with, the generally established and Church-approved four sets of rosary gospel mysteries, i.e. Joyful, Mysteries of Light, Sorrowful, and Glorious. The mystery of the Incarnation, as the cornerstone, has its own special relation to the other Mission Mysteries. It sets their foundation, and strengthens their harmony and interconnectedness with all the Rosary Mysteries - “God has become One with us in our humanity and in our world to share ‘our joys, our struggles, our sorrows and our hopes’.” Each Mission Mystery from the second to the fifth more deeply draws our attention to, and enriches the missionary spirit of, the other sets of Rosary Mysteries, and indeed, of the whole Gospel:
In the Epiphany, we can imagine and contemplate the joy of Mary and Joseph who were overcome by the Spirit, the poor shepherds who heard the good news from an angel and were led to the manger, and the magi, who were guided by the Star of light in their difficult mission journey, joyfully offering their treasures to the newborn child Jesus (“Joyful Mysteries”);
In the Calling of the Twelve, we can imagine and contemplate Jesus praying on the mountain, and starting His public life, calling each of His first disciples by name, reaching out to all those who struggle, and giving light to those in darkness, as Jesus proclaims the Kingdom, exemplified in His encounter and missionary dialogue with the Samaritan woman (“Mysteries of Light”);
In the Washing of the Feet, we can imagine and contemplate Jesus, with His disciples in the upper room before His Passion and Death, stooping down, washing their feet, and instructing them to follow His example - to be humble servants, to make sacrifices, to bear our crosses gracefully, and to love unconditionally (“Sorrowful Mysteries”); and
In the Mission Sending of the Disciples to the World, we can imagine and contemplate the resurrected Christ sending His disciples to share the Good News to all people, filling them with the power of the Holy Spirit, and assuring them of the abiding Presence and unfailing Love of the Triune God in their mission journey ("Glorious Mysteries").
(included in the
(Adapted from the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)
The Cover Painting, Our Lady of the Mission by Sr. Elisea Quinto, FMM, is located at the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) Seminary Chapel, Tagaytay City, Philippines.
The Scriptural Passages and Quotations are from The New Jerusalem Bible. New York, New York: Doubleday, 1990.
The Illustration for the First Mission Mystery, The Incarnation, is by Stanley Gorski based on the SSpSAp (“Pink Sisters”) Centennial Logo (1996). It shows the Father (symbolized by the stretched Hand), in communion with the Holy Spirit (symbolized by the Dove), sending the Son (symbolized by the Eucharist and the Cross) into the World (symbolized by the globe of outstretched hands). Since the beginning of the world, God has become One with us, and continues to be most intimately and truly Present with us in the Eucharist, the “Word made flesh,” the life and soul of every missionary.
The Illustrations for the Second to the Fifth Mission Mysteries: The Epiphany; The Calling of the Twelve; The Washing of the Feet; and The Mission Sending of the Disciples to the World are by Mahler from the SVD Constitutions (November 5, 1983). ...and the many silent contributors and mission animators sent in God’s time – we lift our hearts and endless thanks to God –
“The mysteries help people focus on this theme in a simple and prayerful way.” - A lay theologian and missiologist
“I recognize in it the prayerful fruit of a personal spirituality that is scripture-based and mission-hearted... I hope that [these] meditations on the Rosary will gradually become known and used.” _ A Superior General of an international religious-missionary congregation
“I think that they will be very widely accepted - especially in this year when the Holy Father is promoting a Year of the Rosary. I'm sure that many mission secretaries and mission animators around the world will be very enthusiastic about presenting these reflections to help encourage prayer for missionary activity... a good tool for animating mission prayer.” - A Mission Secretary in Rome
“You can be sure that all of our Sisters will make good use of this booklet, especially during our hours of nocturnal adoration. I can think of no better way to pray for our Priests, Brothers and Sisters working in the missions at home and abroad.” _ A contemplative perpetual adoration sister in the U.S.
“I have been using [the] Mission Mysteries of the Rosary about once a week. They help me realize my missionary vocation better.” - A spiritual director and missionary who lived in the Philippines for 50 years
“I like the mission reflections as they enrich our mission spirituality (religious and lay alike), and are never exhaustive. One reflection builds on to another, as my experience.” - A missionary sister in Australia
“[The] reflections on the 5 mission mysteries are inspiring for missionaries, leading them to prayer and contemplation in the hallowed form of the Rosary. I find the reflections very inspiring. I am sure that they will evoke many more insights for the individual missionary who uses them. I consider the naming of these particular mysteries to be most appropriate.” - A missionary in Ghana, Africa for 55 years
“I think it is something that would appeal both to those already engaged in the missionary activity of the Church, as well as to those who may be inspired to join in the great work of evangelization by virtue of their baptismal call. [The] booklet can serve as a wonderful tool to raise awareness of our common vocation as Christians.” - A publisher, religious books and media
“Whenever we, missionary bishops made our ‘ad limina’ visits with the Pope, John Paul II would stress this teaching of Vatican II. ‘The church, by its very nature is missionary.’ Therefore, every catholic person, Pope, Bishop, Priest, Religious or Layperson, is called to be a missionary. Meditating on the ‘Mission Mysteries of the Holy Rosary,’ not only reminds us of this fact but actually makes us missionaries by our meditative prayers and inspired missionary activity. The old saying, ‘Contemplata tradere,’ means to pass on what we have contemplated. We pass on the message of ‘God’s saving love for us.’” - A bishop and missionary in Papua New Guinea for 47 years
(On the occasion of his 25th anniversary to the Pontificate, the Holy Father was informed of the “Mysteries of Mission”, and he graciously gave the assurance of his prayers, imparting his Apostolic Blessing).
These rosary meditations were written
by a Divine Word missionary, who wishes to remain anonymous.
“I will let fall from Heaven a shower of roses.”
– St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus –