Lagura: Here I am, Lord, send me-A A +A
In the service of the Word
Saturday, July 14, 2012
AT the turn of the last century considered by many as the golden years of the Church’s mission activity, seminaries and mission houses were sending out missionary brothers and priests in big numbers. Among them were St. Augustine’s in Germany, St. Gabriel’s in Austria, Techny in the US and Christ the King in Manila. Seemingly, the harvest and the harvesters then were many.
On the occasion of sending out missionaries the religious communities would gather in their respective churches where they would earnestly pray, listen to the parting words and blessing from the rector as he entrusted the missionaries’ efforts and lives to God. As they leave for the missions, from which a good number would never return, their brothers in the order would sing the plaintive Marian hymn, “Ave Maris Stella”(Hail, Star of the sea) pleading with the Blessed Mother to take good care of their brothers, Her sons.
This practice of sending out men to the missions came from Jesus himself when he commissioned the 12 to preach the Kingdom. They went out in pairs, underlying the necessity of mutual support and encouragement. Thus, they could also pray and act in the Lord’s behalf, for “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Too, those sent to the missions were to take along only the thing they really needed for the task of preaching. The bible, breviary, a couple of books. Also, they had to dress properly befitting their calling and mission, either in black or white sotana, and some money for their immediate needs trusting in divine Providence and the generosity of the people receiving them. Money was appreciated but not deemed the prime mover of the missionary effort.
The sending communities, in the name of the Lord, prayed that the men going out to foreign lands in the name of the Lord be 1) faithful rather than seek being successful. They should be men who walk, not by sight, but by faith. 2) that they be dedicated to bringing the Good News to the people who have not yet heard and 3) that they be generous in the giving of their time, their talent and even their very lives.
The danger of being contented with our status is real. For this reason, we need the Lord to “disturb” us. To this end, the late Bishop Bienvenido Tudtud, assigned to a mission area in the South, composed this most eloquent and touching prayer.
“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves.
When our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little.
When we have arrived safely because we sailed too close to shore.
Stir us, O Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture more seas where storms will show your mastery,
Where losing sight of land we shall find the stars
In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes
and invited the brave to follow Him.”
In the cemeteries of seminaries and mission houses lie the mortal remains of the missionary brothers and priests who heeded Christ’s call to “go to the whole world and preach…”
May they rest in God’s peace.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 15, 2012.