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Passion for Global Mission

Author: Miriam Altenhofen, SSpS
Subject: Global Mission
Language: English, Spanish
Publisher: VivatDeus.org
Year: 2023

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

This question, raised in Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day,” offers each of us a profound and personal inquiry. What are you passionate about?

  • Can you remember the last time you forgot everything else because you were absorbed in something very special?
  • Recall the football players during the World Cup games who gave all they could give on the field.
  • Imagine children totally absorbed in play, or an artist fully involved in the creative experience.

All these images hold something fascinating. It is mesmerizing when a person or a group is wholeheartedly engaged in a significant moment. We perceive a kind of concentration and attention that is magnetic. This is the power of passion.

Last year we reflected on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, expressed as Perichoresis – the dance of the Trinity. Our Sr. Katarína Pavelová, SSpS offered us deep theological and spiritual insights in her essay, “Perichoresis, The Divine Dance of the Trinity.” Perichoresis is a way in which the early church tried to capture the mystery of the Trinity. As in a Greek wedding dance, the dancers – here Father, Son and Holy Spirit – move in intertwining circles, weaving in and out in a whirling pattern of motion. The Trinity is like this, a harmonious set of relationship of mutual giving and receiving. This is the dance of love. The Trinity wants to include us as SSpS, so that the dance can widen and continue with us.

Crossing multiple borders

In the Trinity we see that, God crossed the border. In Jesus he came from his Divine Circle into our very human, time and space-bound reality (Phil 2:5ff). He shared our joys, struggles and sufferings, and learned to incorporate our clumsy steps.

Yet, as a human being, he had to learn. He had to learn to cross the border of his own ethnocentricity. The passage of the Syrophoenician women (Mk 7: 24ff) shows us very clearly that Jesus was bound by his own culture. He had prejudices. In this passage a woman unexpectedly helps him to widen his own view and to become more inclusive of others from other cultures and beliefs.

Like Jesus, we are also invited not to remain in our own cultural circles with their own judgments, but to learn to see where God is already active before we as missionaries arrived. In Mk 7, it was the cry of the woman. For us today, whose cry is reaching our hearts?

God is calling us through the cries of our world and creation. God is already active, and His Spirit already is at work in persons and in concrete settings. Our mission is not to bring God to other people. God is already there and waiting to be found. Maybe these people are bringing God to us. God might speak to us from the margins or from where we expect it least. We need to be ready for surprises and willing to cross our natural and emotional borders.

Our Global Mission

Our world has become a global village. On the one hand, we have globalization with trade and information going from one country to another. Information technology has made it possible to know what is happening on the other side of the world within the blink of an eye. Every second a huge amount of data flies through the ether. More than ever, we experience our interconnectedness and interdependence.

Yet, on the other hand, in all parts of the world, protectionism and nationalism are growing. The reason might be that within our national boundaries we feel more secure, and we want to protect ourselves with our identity from too much of diversity of opinions, choosing reliable information rather than destructive “fake news”. At times we are just overwhelmed by a tsunami of information.

We as missionaries are part of this global reality and very often, we ourselves are migrants in a country not our own. This creates tension, insecurity, and stress. Therefore, we might at times be tempted to withdraw into our own little “known” world, be it with our own nationals or safe in our comfort zones. Sometimes this might even be necessary.

Into this situation the prophet Isaiah tells us: Make the tent you live in larger; lengthen its ropes and strengthen the pegs! (Is 54:2) The tent is something very movable, not so stable. Nomads use tents. They take them along in all their moving. Tents are anchored by pegs. We need pegs – to root us deeply in our God, not only with our head and our theology, but with all our being, emotions, and instincts. We need to nourish the connectedness with the ground of our being, with the “Seelengrund” (the deepest ground of our soul) as Meister Eckhard calls it, where the Trinity is present. Our tent needs to be stretched so that it is open to welcome others into our own space.

As Jesus had to struggle and overcome his ethnocentrism, so we, too, need to struggle with our own inclinations toward it. As Jesus surely would have loved to stay with Mary and Joseph, we need to leave our parents and families to be available for the mission. Jesus had a very clear priority – the Reign of God. Jesus built up a new community of disciples. When we come together from different backgrounds, we are invited to build up a new community of those who follow Jesus with a clear purpose in life: to be sharers and collaborators in God’s mission. Isn’t this something I can be passionate about?


Passion is born from powerful emotions like love, desire, enthusiasm, revenge, or hate. The word “passion” comes from the Latin “to suffer”. We talk about the passion of Christ, the suffering of Christ. Passion is a strong emotion. It can make us enthusiastic or ecstatic. It can also make us suffer: to care deeply also means we will feel pain deeply. Passion moves and impels us into action.

From experience we know that we need the energy of our deepest emotions to live a committed life. Rationality alone is not enough. We can know many things and yet act contrary to our rational insights. Therefore, we need time in prayer and contemplation to let ourselves, again and again, be touched by this great love and passion of God for us as humanity and creation. Inviting God into the heart of our hearts can rekindle our original love and fire for God and for Jesus and his mission. It is only in this loving connection that we will be passionate for God’s cause.

By “global mission” we mean the universal mission, where we are not bound to one country, nationality or culture. It is the invitation to widen our tents, to overcome ethnocentrism, national preferences and be willing to move as individuals and as communities wherever the Holy Spirit is calling us – even if this entails leaving our home country, our comfort zone, family and friends and putting God’s mission first.

As a global organization, we set priorities for missionary situations and channel our personnel and financial resources accordingly. This is only possible with the collaboration of all.

Constitution 119

Gifted with the Father’ s love, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we are sent to pass on that love as Jesus did. He went about serving – teaching, healing, reconciling, showing mercy and compassion and finally laying down his life for us. Our love for others should show the care and concern of Jesus. Constantly we endeavor to grow and mature in this love so as to become all things to all people.

Like this, slowly and with God’s grace, we will become a melody of God’s love and compassion in this world.


As we enter 2023 and commit to reflecting and acting from our General Chapter Directive to “invigorate our passion for God’s mission” I offer this blessing prayer for our continued transformation as a congregation:

For your Spirit woven into the fabric of creation
for the eternal overlapping with time
and for the life of earth interlaced with heaven’s vitality
We give you thanks, O God.

For your untamed creativity
your boundless mystery,
and your passionate yearnings
planted deep in the soul of every human being,
We give you thanks O, God.

Grant us the grace to reclaim these depths,
to uncover this treasure,
to liberate these longings,
and in being set free in our own spirit,
to act for the well-being of the world

Adapted from Celtic Benediction: Morning and Night Prayer by J. Philip Newell



Miriam Altenhofen, SSpS
Miriam Altenhofen, SSpS

Sr. Miriam Altenhofen, from Germany, is the Congregational Leader of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit. She studied Pastoral Theology and has a Masters in Psychology. She has worked in Botswana as a missionary, in formation, therapeutic accompaniment and as workshop facilitator.

3 Responses

  1. Excelente texto, Ir Miriam!
    Muito agradecida!
    Deus continue iluminando sua vida e missão.
    Grande abraço e todo o bem
    Ir Ilca

  2. La Pasión nos mueve y nos impulsa a la acción… Y esta pasión nos suscita el Espíritu Santo y recrea para la realización a través de nuestro carisma Arnoldina.

    Muy buena y profunda reflexion

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