The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerful missionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Taking a Count

It's something we all do. And November, a month of giving thanks, seems the best time to do it -- to count your blessings, the many reasons to offer prayerful gratitude to Almighty God.

Topping my list is my faith, our Lord's greatest gift to each of us. We can all surely recount stories of how our faith and trust in God helped us through life's difficulties, the inevitable challenges, large and small, that we face every day.

I am grateful as well for the presence in my life, now through many decades, of missionaries. I remember sitting in my elementary school classroom in Pittsburgh and hearing missionaries tell us their larger-than-life tales about their work and witness for our Lord.

Missionaries were my heroes then and remain so. They labor in the remotest corners of the world, places where there are no roads, no comforts from home. They serve in the midst of war and natural disaster; they witness immense suffering and extreme poverty.

Through it all, the missionary reaches out with the loving heart of our Lord, sharing with our brothers and sisters throughout the Developing World the hope and peace of Jesus Who suffered, died and rose for all the human family.

And missionaries are not only those who travel far from home. All of us baptized Catholics are missionaries, called to share our faith with others, and to support, through prayer and sacrifice, those who bring the "Good News" of Jesus to the poor throughout the world. That brings me to another "blessing" in my life -- the family of supporters of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Their donations -- great and small -- help the Church in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and remote regions of Latin America to provide for the physical and, above all, spiritual needs of our mission family. These donors -- vital members of our "one family in mission" -- bring my blessing count to more than one million.

Taking a count of our blessings is a good thing. It reminds us of how much the Lord really loves us, most of all through the people He sends our way. Read about a missionary today; our new issue of MISSION offers eight such profiles. Then say a prayer for these priests, Religious and lay people who give us an example to follow -- one to truly give thanks to God for. And know that I offer a prayer of gratitude daily for all of you who are missionaries through your prayers and your gifts in support of the Church's worldwide mission.

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