October has been designated by Pope Francis as EXTRAORDINARY MISSIONARY MONTH, so we will concentrate this month on what it means to evangelize in the 21st century and missionaries who have gone before our present day missionaries.
Missionaries have brought the Catholic faith not only to the poor and the oppressed but to anyone open to learning about the life of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis has said that the Church’s mission is a “passion for Jesus and a passion for His people”. This year we celebrate the hundred anniversary of POPE BENEDICT XV’s apostolic letter MAXIMUM ILLUD. (From the opening words of the original Latin text, meaning "that momentous". Pope Benedict begins by recalling "that momentous and holy charge" found in Mark 16:15: "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to all creation.")
Pope’s since 1919 have had much to say to God’s people regarding their role in evangelization:
"The Gospel has transformed the world, and it is still transforming it, like a river that waters a great field. Let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary that in the whole Church priestly, religious and lay vocations ripen in service to the new evangelization." POPE BENEDICT XVI
ST. JOHN XXIII called the Vatican Council because he wanted the ancient faith to be exactly preserved and yet proclaimed in a way in which it could be heard and embraced in our age and circumstances.
In his 1999 Apostolic Exhortation the "Church in
ST. JOHN PAUL II wrote, "With the passage of time, pastors
and faithful alike have grown increasingly
conscious of the role of the Virgin Mary in the evangelization of . In
the prayer composed for the Special Assembly for America America
of the Synod of Bishops, Holy Mary of
Guadalupe is invoked as 'Patroness of
and Star of the first and new
“The saints are not supermen, nor were they born perfect,” POPE FRANCIS said. “They are like us, like each one of us. They are people who, before reaching the glory of heaven, lived normal lives with joys and sorrows,struggles and hopes. What changed their lives? When they recognized God’s love, they followed it with all their heart without reserve or hypocrisy. They spent their lives serving others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace. This is the life of a saint”.
EVANGELII NUNTIANDI Apostolic Exhortation of ST. POPE PAUL VI, to the Church: Bishops, clergy, religious, and to all the faithful.
“Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ's sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious Resurrection.
The Church is the depositary of the Good News to be proclaimed. The promises of the New Alliance in Jesus Christ, the teaching of the Lord and the apostles, the Word of life, the sources of grace and of God's loving kindness, the path of salvation - all these things have been entrusted to her. It is the content of the Gospel, and therefore of evangelization, that she preserves as a precious living heritage, not in order to keep it hidden but to communicate it.”