The mission of the congregation is to serve the Church in its work of evangelization, particularly through the ministry of education.
[Statutes, Constitutions of the Brothers of St. Francis Xavier]
Your Founder’s vision was unique.
He intended to form a community of laymen
who, as religious brothers, would be sent as missionaries to the world.
As vowed members of the people of God,
sealed in baptism and confirmed by the Holy Spirit,
they would participate in the Church’s mission of evangelization
through a life of gospel service lived in solidarity and availability among the people.
It is through your life of gospel witness
lived in community with others
that God desires to manifest care and compassionate love
to those who are separated and estranged,
not only from their neighbors,
but also from their own uniqueness;
to those who suffer from want, neglect, and injustice:
the poor, the weak, and the oppressed of this world.
They too are called to experience, express, and share
the love of God with the world through their own giftedness.
[Fundamental Principles, Constitutions of the Brothers of St. Francis Xavier]
Mission happens wherever the church is; it is how the church exists. Mission is the church preaching Christ for the first time; it is the act of Christians struggling against injustice and oppression; it is the binding of wounds in reconciliation; it is the church learning from other religious ways and being challenged by the world’s cultures. “Missions” exist in urban multicultural neighborhoods, rural Ghanaian villages, Brazilian favelas, American universities, in the world’s cyberspace. Mission is the local church “focusing not on its own, internal problems, but on other human beings, focusing elsewhere, in a world that calls and challenges it.”
[Bevans & Scroeder, Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today, 9, quoting Legrand, Unity and Plurality: Mission in the Bible, xii]
The Working Paper on Xaverian Mission identifies three coordinates of mission: frontier, vision, and ministry. In considering the “frontier” of Xaverian mission we need do no more than turn to the Fundamental Principles where we are told, “Go, then, to all people everywhere, and make them my disciples.” Although Theodore Ryken first considered the American mission as the frontier for his “band of brothers,” he made it clear in The Plan, that he would not “admit any member who is not disposed to go to whatever country he will be sent.” He reinforced this when he placed the congregation under the patronage of St. Francis Xavier, writing, “the name of this insatiable laborer for souls will indicate, with one word, what is intended with the Congregation. According to his example one will not listen to this voice: ‘You can also do good here in this country.’ Rather they would listen to this one: ‘Go throughout the world and teach all peoples.’”
To consider the vision of the Xaverian mission, we need to recall that Theodore Ryken’s vision was of a group of lay religious men who had the privilege of living the non-dichotomized life of Martha and Mary. Living in “solidarity and availability among the people,” as the Fundamental Principles reminds us, the Xaverian’s life was centered on the “Word and worship of God.” Ryken’s vision was also of a community that would develop their own uniqueness and giftedness, putting the individuals gifts at the service of the community. In discovering their own strengths, the Xaverians are thus able to help others discover their own gifts. Ryken’s vision was of a “true religious family.”
Ministry for Theodore Ryken found its origin in his vision. If his Brothers were to help young people discover their giftedness, education was the most logical way to do this. The Working Paper on Xaverian Mission, however, informs us that, “while [Ryken] viewed schools as the most effective means to realize his vision, he viewed the congregation’s educational ministry rather broadly.”
As we enter this Holy Week and engage ourselves in the narrative of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection we can reflect on the “frontier” for Jesus, himself; we can reacquaint ourselves with his vision of the suffering servant: “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth.” (Isaiah 4:2); we can see that his ministry was to be about the will of his Father and to bring God’s passion and compassion to the world.
PALM SUNDAY REFLECTION
“The Master has need of it.” Brother Tom Murphy reflects on the Palm Sunday Gospel, in our first reflection of our final Theme. Find it here: http://wp.me/p36Kiu-p3.