What’s your mission?

By Tom Quiner

Jack Sullivan was in agony.

Mr. Sullivan is a Massachusetts Deacon in the Catholic Church. While undergoing deaconate training, he battled severe back problems.

They required surgery.

John Cardinal Newman

John Cardinal Newman

The pain was unbearable.

He struggled to breathe.

The surgery revealed horrendous spinal damage with ruptures so severe, fluids had leaked out.

Mr. Sullivan prayed to the late Cardinal John Henry Newman for intercession.

The healing was immediate.

Mr. Sullivan gingerly inched his toe to the floor. Then he rested his foot on the ground. And then he walked.

He walked for the first time in months.

His doctor, Dr Robert Banco, chief of spinal surgery at the New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, was baffled:

“Because of this persisting and severe stenosis, I have no medical explanation for why he was pain-free and for so long a time. The objective data, CT, myelogram, and MRI demonstrated that his pathology did not at all change, but his symptoms [pain] improved drastically. With the tear in your dura mater, your condition should have been much worse. I have no medical or scientific answer for you. If you want an answer, ask God.”

The Catholic Church did an exhaustive investigation into the phenomenal healing of Deacon Sullivan. No natural explanation could be found. The healing was declared miraculous, attributed to the intercession of John Cardinal Newman.

Who is this Blessed John Henry Newman, as he is also known?

He was a leading intellectual religious figure in England in the 19th century. This Anglican priest became famous for converting to Catholicism in a land noted for its anti-Catholicism. He served as a priest, and then as a Cardinal.

Blessed John Henry Newman is clearly interested in your life and mine, as Deacon Sullivan learned. The Catholic Church believes in the intercession of the saints. Saints have interceded in miraculous ways countless times, each one carefully documented by the Church.

Perhaps, then, we should be attentive to the words of this great man who was born two centuries ago. Here’s what he tells us:

“God has created me to do him some definite service.”

In other words, we have a mission, you and I.

“He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.”

Each of our missions is different. Let’s face it, you have gifts I don’t have. I have gifts you may not have. God launches us on a unique mission accordingly.

“I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good: I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep his commandments.”

You’re part of a bigger puzzle, which involves the entire sweep of human civilization. In other words, your mission gives your life meaning.

“Therefore, I will trust him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.”

Newman says God calls us to trust Him, in good times and in bad.

“If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, he knows what he is about.”

Do you know what you are about? You are about a mission God has launched you on. And you’re not alone. God helps you on your mission.

What’s your mission?


  1. kodonivan on April 14, 2013 at 12:34 am

    You have posed a good question. I am looking for my mission in life…

    • quinersdiner on April 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Sometimes, says Cardinal Newman, we don’t even know our mission until we get to heaven. My suggestion: ask God. Have Him reveal it to you. Thanks for writing.

    • Karen Quiner on April 14, 2013 at 10:35 am

      I think most thoughtful and committed Christians grapple with this very question throughout their life. I read something recently which really gives the answer…. keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and you WILL fulfill your mission.

      When we are living the life of faith, we are most often walking in blind faith. I think God keeps it that way so we have to continuously rely on Him and not start thinking that the work is ours. If you read Mother Teresa’s memoirs, you will see that even she felt like she was walking in the dark most of her life.

      And what does it mean to keep our eyes on Jesus? I think it is to stay in the Word frequently, and every day, and frequently throughout the day to say “what do you want me to do today Lord?” And even then, you don’t always know for sure. But I have started practicing this by trying to ask even in the little things for direction such as “Do you want me to make that call or stay silent?” “Should I hit the send button or not?” and then I listen to my gut. That is how God directs me – in my gut. As I start paying attention, I feel promptings that I know are from the Holy Spirit such as “look in the eyes of the grocery checkout girl and really see her.” I think if I do this, sometimes I will get it wrong, but that God honors my desire to do His will.

      And if you are Catholic, get to Mass and take the Eucharist as often as possible. It is the food promised by Christ to give us strength and courage, and grace. In the Eucharist, we take Christ’s flesh, His very being into our body and soul. He becomes part of us and we become part of Him. Like in a true sacramental marriage, we become one flesh with Him and no longer belong just to ourselves.

      God bless you on your journey. I strongly suspect that if you are looking for your mission, that you are well into it.

      • kodonivan on April 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm

        Karen: Thank you for your suggestions. I am Catholic and I look for Jesus Christ for direction and strength through both the Mass readings and the Eucharist. I know He will always be there…I just need to remember to ask and trust!

  2. Karen Quiner on April 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Yeah, I figure anyone who is asking the question is well on the road.

    I certainly don’t set myself up as any expert, that is for sure. It just happens to be something I have been thinking about myself lately. And I don’t know about you, but just when you think you are getting somewhere on this journey, something happens to make you realize just how little you know and how far you have to go. Or I get sidetracked and get off the rail a bit, and then have to start again.

    I get so much from hearing about others’ experience and insights. This blog is good that way. There are a lot of really good people, insightful people, who come to this blog.

    God Bless you,