It may be that with electronic social media, the sending of postcards with stamps is not what it used to be. Indeed, recent research suggested that only about one quarter of people send postcards when they have been on holiday, compared with eight in ten people twenty years ago. It may be that Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat do the job adequately well and perhaps even better because an ‘electronic postcard’ can reach many more people instantly! Of course, like all electronic messages though, these can be easily filed and quickly forgotten, with that special moment lost as the next electronic post comes whizzing in to replace it. To receive an actual postcard, then, carefully chosen, written and sent across the world in its own good time with the aid of a stamp can be a special moment; and a treasure to be kept on the fridge (held up by last year’s fridge magnet), for all to see, and to be a frequent reminder to all who pass by.
The postcard reaches out, with a special message, to those we love and those who love us. Those messages can be so important to people; messages of love and hope that they hang onto especially in times of difficulty. During the First World War, when the writing of postcards was at its height, the messages from home, of love and hope for a better future, were for many soldiers what kept them going, helping them to persevere through that they had to endure; and so finally return to the home where they belonged.
Reaching out with a special message, with a ‘postcard’, is what we are called to do as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not send postcards, instead he sent his ‘postcard disciples’, to all those he loved, indeed, like modern social media to be read by all, Jesus sends his disciples to the whole of humanity. The message is always the same: that Jesus loves each one of us, and wants to lead us to the Father’s mercy. We too are to be ‘postcard disciples’. We too are to carry the message home and abroad – to all whom Jesus loves. Some of those loved ones we too love; and September is Home Mission month when the Church particularly reaches out to those who once knew the message, but have forgotten or ignored it. For others, those we don’t know, to the many people across the world and on our doorstep who have not yet heard the good news of the Gospel, October is the missionary month when Church reaches out globally through organisations such as Missio. Pope Francis has designated that October 2019 is to be an ‘Extraordinary Missionary Month’, declaring that all Catholic are ‘Baptised and Sent’, and are to be re-energised in our mission as ‘Postcard Disciples’. For information on the Extraordinary Missionary Month go to https://rcdow.org.uk/faith/
Deacon Adrian Cullen