Tuesday, October 21, 2008


“Faith is strengthened when it is given to others”

Pope John Paul II devoted the last 20 years of his pontificate calling for a “new evangelization,” a call now taken up by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. His resounding call is exemplified in his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio”.

Redemptoris Missio (Latin for Mission of the Redeemer), subtitled “On the permanent validity of the Church's missionary mandate”, was published on December 7, 1990, devoted to the subject of "the urgency of missionary activity" and in which he wished "to invite the Church to renew her missionary commitment."

Pope John Paul II says in his introduction:

…“Twenty-five years after the conclusion of the Council and the publication of the Decree on Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, fifteen years after the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi issued by Pope Paul VI, and in continuity with the magisterial teaching of my predecessors, I wish to invite the Church to renew her missionary commitment.”…

The call for renewal in the missionary commitment is exemplified in this excerpt on the section expounding the “Parameters of the Church's Mission Ad Gentes”. The passage (emphasis mine) retains its resonating significance in today’s social milieu.
“The rapid and profound transformations which characterize today's world, especially in the southern hemisphere, are having a powerful effect on the overall missionary picture. Where before there were stable human and social situations, today everything is in flux. One thinks, for example, of urbanization and the massive growth of cities, especially where demographic pressure is greatest. In not a few countries, over half the population already lives in a few "megalopolises," where human problems are often aggravated by the feeling of anonymity experienced by masses of people.

In the modern age, missionary activity has been carried out especially in isolated regions which are far from centers of civilization and which are hard to penetrate because of difficulties of communication, language or climate. Today the image of mission ad gentes is perhaps changing: efforts should be concentrated on the big cities, where new customs and styles of living arise together with new forms of culture and communication, which then influence the wider population. It is true that the "option for the neediest" means that we should not overlook the most abandoned and isolated human groups, but it is also true that individual or small groups cannot be evangelized if we neglect the centers where a new humanity, so to speak, is emerging, and where new models of development are taking shape. The future of the younger nations is being shaped in the cities.

Speaking of the future, we cannot forget the young, who in many countries comprise more than half the population. How do we bring the message of Christ to non-Christian young people who represent the future of entire continents? Clearly, the ordinary means of pastoral work are not sufficient: what are needed are associations, institutions, special centers and groups, and cultural and social initiatives for young people. This is a field where modern ecclesial movements have ample room for involvement.
The message resonates as ever, especially in our developing nation that faces daunting challenges in an increasingly relativist milieu.

The call for new evangelization still stands, for

"Without the Creator, the creature disappears"

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