Profound, personal, communal conversion

VATICAN - Pope's Message for the 84th World Mission Sunday
“It is only from this encounter with the Love of God that transforms our existence, that we can live in communion with Him and among ourselves and offer our brethren a credible testimony, giving reason for our hope.” This is what the Holy Father Benedict XVI affirms in his Message for the 84th World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated on October 24 of this year, with the theme: “Building Ecclesial Communion is the Key to the Mission.”

Every World Mission Sunday offers us all “an occasion for renewing their commitment to proclaim the Gospel and give pastoral activity a greater missionary character.” The Pope then mentions that the commitment and task of announcing the Gospel belongs to the entire Church, which is “missionary by her very nature,” and he continues: “In a multi-ethnic society that experiences increasing forms of solitude and alarming indifference, Christians should learn to offer signs of hope and become universal brothers, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or unnecessary fears, work to make the planet a home for all peoples.”

After mentioning that “so too the men of our time, perhaps at times unconsciously, ask believers to not only 'speak' of Jesus but to 'make Jesus visible,' to make the Redeemer’s Face shine in every corner of the earth before the generations of the new millennium and especially before the youth of every continent,” the Pope's message continues: “These considerations regard the missionary mandate that all the baptized and the entire Church have received, but that cannot be fulfilled in a credible manner without a profound personal, communal, and pastoral conversion. In fact, the awareness of the call to announce the Gospel not only inspires every individual believer, but all the diocesan and parochial communities, to an integral renewal and to an ever greater openness to missionary cooperation among the Churches, to promote the proclamation of the Gospel in the heart of every person, every people, culture, race, nationality, in every place.”

Benedict XVI then recalls the constant commitment of the pastoral workers in promoting ecclesial communion, “so that the phenomenon of “interculturalism” may be incorporated into a framework of unity in which the Gospel is leaven of liberty and progress, a source of fraternity, humility, and peace.” It then highlights that “ecclesial communion is brought about through the encounter with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who through the Church’s preaching reaches out to all men and establishes them in communion with Himself and therefore, with the Father and the Holy Spirit” and that “the Church becomes “communion” starting from the Eucharist in which Christ, present in the bread and wine, with His sacrifice of love establishes the Church as His Body, uniting us to the one Triune God and among each other.” This love that we celebrate in the Sacrament cannot remain only for ourselves and “by its very nature it demands to be shared with all.” Therefore, “an authentically eucharistic Church is a missionary Church.”

In the concluding part of the Message, the Holy Father exhorts us to be aware that we are “active participants in the Church’s task of proclaiming the Gospel,” and renews “my invitation to prayer and, in spite of the economic difficulties, to fraternal, concrete aid in support of the younger Churches.” Expressing his gratitude for the valuable service carried out by the Pontifical Mission Societies in their support of priests, seminarians, and catechists in the most far off missionary lands and in encouraging the young ecclesial communities, the Pope affectionately acknowledges “who offer their testimony to the Kingdom of God in the most far off and difficult places, often at the cost of their own lives.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 26/3/2010)

Complete text of the Holy Father's Message, in Italian

Complete text of the Holy Father's Message, in French

Complete text of the Holy Father's Message, in English

Complete text of the Holy Father's Message, in German

Complete text of the Holy Father's Message, in Spanish

Complete text of the Holy Father's Message, in Portuguese

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