I was reading Dorthy Day's autobiography and she mentioned something that Catholics of her time, at least, would take for granted "doing a novena and making a mission". I've prayed a novena, but I've got no idea what making a mission is - at least not without leaving your home city.
What does it mean to “Make a Mission”?
Before going into the what it means to "make a mission", I believe that the modern phrase is to "take part in a mission".
Now let us see what the Catholic Church by teaches with the different term variations of what defines the word: "mission".
The term literally denotes "sending" and covers a variety of meanings, all somehow expressing the idea of a going forth from one person to others in order to effect some beneficial change in their favor. At the highest level are the divine missions of the Trinity: the visible mission of the Second Person, sent by the Father in the person of Jesus Christ, and the invisible mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son. Christ then sent the Apostles to make disciples of all nations. Their mission was to preach the Gospel, baptize, and teach the people "to observe all the commands I gave you" (Matthew 28:19-20). The Apostles, in turn, personally and through their successors have been sending other faithful to continue the work of the Master in evangelizing the human race. Mission, therefore, is the purpose of vocation. All who are called to follow Christ are sent by Christ, in the person of his Church, to extend the Kingdom of God. (Etym. Latin missio, a sending.)
Now, taking this basic definition of what a mission is, let us take a look at the three types of Catholic Missions:
- Catholic Missions in pagan or non-Catholic lands
- Home Missions
- Ever since the foundation of the Church, the Apostles were sent out as missionaries by Our Lord to all the peoples of the world. In this sense, the Church has always been of apostolic missions, sent to make conversions among pagans and heretics by its very nature. The faithful are encouraged to pray for the evangelization of all who jet to become believers of what the Church professes and as such are also to be considered as missionaries, even if it is only in a passive sense.
The New Testament missionary outreach of the Christian Church from the time of St Paul was extensive throughout the Roman Empire. - Catholic missions
- Home Missions are those missionary activities which take part within a particular diocese or country.
“Home Missions” is the name for dioceses and parishes in the United States, including its territories and former territories, which cannot provide basic pastoral services to Catholics without outside help. Basic pastoral services include Mass and sacraments, religious education, and ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and lay people.
For many decades, the Church in the United States has sent missionaries overseas to serve the people of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The home missions are dioceses and parishes here in the United States that need the same kind of support.
- The third type of mission is called the parish mission or parochial mission. This is the type of mission that Dorothy Day was referring to when she stated some Catholics would "take a mission!"
So what is a Parish Mission?
A Parish Mission is special time in a parish community when the community gathers together to gain further insight into a faith filled life. It is a time for grace and renewal of the parish through services and talks filled with stories, examples and meaning.
Every mission will be designed and tailored to the unique needs and requests of the individual parishes. - Why A Parish Mission?
In my home parish we generally have a parish mission that lasts a given by whole week (8 days). Some parishes may have them for 3, 4 or even 5 days. They are usually by a priest from outside the diocese in question are priests that from a Religious Order or who have a great ability to give captivating homilies.
The "missions" are held twice a day (morning and evenings) with the same homilily being preached at both Masses. Generally speaking the sacrament of confession is made available before and after Mass in order to help the spiritual renewal of the parish, both within and outwards. Hopefully the graces received at such a parish mission will manifested themselves through our deeper love and commitment for Christ and his Church.