Enthusiasm ἐνθουσιασμός

Holy Father's Missionary Intention for May 2010: “That ordained ministers, religious women and men, and lay people involved in apostolic work may understand how to infuse missionary enthusiasm into the communities entrusted to their care.


Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – The word "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek ἐνθουσιασμός, and has several genres or meanings. One of these genres refers to the prophets, who were "full of God," inspired by Him when they spoke on His behalf. In a way, when we say that a person is enthusiastic, we are saying that "he is full of God," and we feel moved by a great zeal and courage in his words and his actions. This enthusiasm is like a fire that consumes all in its path with its flames.

In order for ordained ministers, religious men and women, and lay people to be able to convey enthusiasm, they must themselves be enthusiastic for their own vocation, their life, and especially enthusiastic about Christ, in love with Christ. Those who come to Jesus with faith, in quiet listening to His Word, in Eucharistic adoration, in the sacramental reception of His Body, feel the fire of His presence burning in their hearts. The disciples of Emmaus experienced that their hearts burned within them as they listened to the Lord. They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread and immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell the Eleven that they had seen the Risen Christ (cf. Lk 24, 33). Whoever meets Christ truly becomes a missionary, because he cannot contain the love that burns inside him.

Similar is the experience of St. Paul. As a persecutor, the Risen Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Since then, his life took a radical departure. From that moment, for him, his "life is Christ" (Phil 1:21), and this conviction makes him exclaim: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). Pope Benedict XVI presents him as a model of an evangelizer full of enthusiasm: “Let us look at this great evangelizer, who with bold enthusiasm and apostolic zeal brought the Gospel to many different peoples in the world of that time. His teaching and example inspire us to go in search of the Lord Jesus. They encourage us to trust him, because that sense of emptiness, which tends to intoxicate humanity, has been overcome by the light and the hope that emanate from the resurrection” (Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2009).

Youth is the age of enthusiasm, but we must not think only in physical youthfulness. When we lack the enthusiasm of faith, it means that we have prematurely "aged,” that we are on our way to death. Although from a biological standpoint, the years roll by inexorably, we must live a constant spiritual rejuvenation, growing in love for Christ and enthusiasm to bring Him to everyone. St. Paul said: "Although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day" (2 Cor 4:16).

Let us contemplate the story of a young woman who is full of God: Mary. She received the announcement of the angel Gabriel and agreed with docility and obedience to what God asked. Through Her Fiat, the Word of God became flesh in Her virginal womb. The young woman, who was "enthusiastic" - literally "full of God" - "got up and went with haste to the mountain, to a city of Judah" (Luke 1:39). Goodness and love spread themselves, they contain within their very essence this need of being conveyed. Mary brings Jesus in Her womb. She cannot keep the love that has taken on flesh in Her flesh, to herself. She feels the need to bring Elizabeth the great news of Christ's presence in the world.

This May, we ask Mary to renew the enthusiasm and joy of the faith in our hearts, along with the certainty of the victory of the Risen Christ and His love for mankind. May She also bring consolation to our fellow missionaries who often suffer from loneliness and discouragement for a lack of results. Mary makes us understand that the branch cannot bear fruit unless it is attached to the vine (cf. Jn 15:4) and that we cannot convey enthusiasm if we do not live with enthusiasm. (Agenzia Fides 04/29/2010)

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