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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON POPE FRANCIS
(Part 11)

ON THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH


November 23, 2013


Pope Francis reiterates the mission of the Church, which has been the mission of CFC-FFL from the start. "Each of us must be an evangelizer."

The Holy Father also emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelization and mission. The Holy Spirit is the essential agent of evangelization and mission. We look to Pentecost power. We look to charismatic gifts. We look to Spirit-inspired and Spirit-propelled worship and service.

Many Catholics do not know that they are supposed to be evangelizers, and many Catholics do not even truly know the Holy Spirit, much less allow the Spirit to work in power in their lives and service. We in CFC-FFL are also in danger of sliding into neglect in actively living out who we are and what we are called to do. Now Pope Francis reminds us. Let us get back on track.

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On the Mission of the Church

VATICAN CITY, May 22, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s weekly General Audience address in St. Peter’s Square where he continued the cycle of catechesis dedicated to the Year of Faith.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Creed, immediately after having professed faith in the Holy Spirit, we say: "I believe in the Church, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic". There is a deep connection between these two realities of faith: it is the Holy Spirit that gives life to the Church, guiding its steps. Without the presence and the relentless action of the Holy Spirit, the Church would not be able to live and could not accomplish the task that the risen Jesus has entrusted it to go and make disciples of all peoples (cf. Mt 28:18). Evangelization is the Mission of the Church, not just some, but my, your, our mission. The Apostle Paul exclaimed: "Woe to me if I do not announce the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16). Each of us must be an evangelizer, especially with our lives! Paul VI emphasised that «evangelizing ... is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. It exists to evangelize" (Apost. ex. Evangelii nuntiandi, 14).

Who is the real engine of evangelization in our life and in the Church? As Paul VI expressed with clarity: «It is he, the Holy Spirit that, today as in the early Church, operates in every evangelizer who lets himself be possessed and led by Him, that suggests the words that he alone would not have found, predisposing at the same time the mind of the listener to be open to receive the good news and the Kingdom announced» (ibid., 75). To evangelize, then, you must once again be open to the action of the Spirit of God, without fear of what he may ask and where he will lead us. Let us trust him! He will make us able to live and bear witness to our faith, and will illuminate the hearts of those we encounter. This was the experience at Pentecost: upon the Apostles, gathered with Mary in the upper room, "there appeared tongues as of fire, which parted, and rested upon each of them, and all were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them the power to express itself» (Acts 2:3-4). The Holy Spirit, descending on the Apostles, makes them get out of the room in which they were closed for fear, it makes them go out from themselves, and transforms them into announcers and witnesses of the great works of God"(v. 11). And this transformation brought about by the Holy Spirit is reflected on the crowd gathered at the place and coming from every nation under heaven"(v. 5) because each one hears the words of the Apostles as if they were being spoken in their own language (v. 6).

Here is a first important effect of the action of the Holy Spirit that guides and animates the proclamation of the Gospel: unity, communion. In Babel, according to the biblical account, there began the dispersal of peoples and the confusion of tongues, fruit of that gesture of the haughtiness and pride of the man who wanted to build, with his own strength, without God, "a city and a tower whose top touches the sky" (Gen 11:4). At Pentecost, these divisions are overcome. There is no more pride towards God, nor the closure towards each other, but there is openness to God, there is the going out to announce his Word: a new language, that of love that the Holy Spirit pours into hearts (cf. Rom 5:5); a language that everyone can understand and that, when welcomed, can be expressed in every life and in every culture. The language of the Spirit, the Gospel language is the language of communion, which calls for overcoming closures and indifference, divisions and conflicts. We should ask ourselves: how do I let myself be guided by the Holy Spirit so that my testimony of faith is a message of unity and communion? Do I carry the word of reconciliation and love that is the Gospel in the environments where I live? Sometimes it seems that there is being repeated today what happened in Babel: divisions, inability to understand each other, rivalry, envy, selfishness. To bring the Gospel is to announce and live, ourselves first of all, the reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity and love that the Holy Spirit gives us. Remember Jesus' words: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (Jn 13:34-35).

A second element: the day of Pentecost, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stands "with the Eleven" and «in a loud voice» (Acts 2:14) and "with frankness" (v. 29) announces the Good News of Jesus, who gave his life for our salvation and whom God has raised him from the dead. Here is another effect of the action of the Holy Spirit: the courage to announce the news of the Gospel of Jesus to all, with frankness (parresia), aloud, in every time and in every place. And this happens even today for the Church and for all of us: from the fire of Pentecost, by the action of the Holy Spirit, ever new energies are unleashed, new ways in which to announce the message of salvation, new courage to evangelize. Let us never close ourselves to this action! Let us live the Gospel with humility and courage! Let us witness to the newness, the hope, the joy that the Lord brings in life. We hear within us "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing" (Paul VI, Apost. ap. Evangelii nuntiandi, 80).

I will only briefly mention a third element, which is particularly important: a new evangelization, an evangelizing Church must start always from prayer, from asking, like the Apostles in the Upper room, for the fire of the Holy Spirit. Only the loyal and intense relationship with God allows one to come out from one's closures and announce the Gospel with parresia. Without prayer our activity becomes empty and our announcement doesn't have soul, it is not animated by the Spirit.

Dear friends, as Benedict XVI affirmed, the Church today "feels above all the wind of the Holy Spirit that helps us, shows us the right path; and so, with new enthusiasm, we are on the way and we thank the Lord" (Words to the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of bishops, October 27, 2012). Every day let us renew renew our confidence in the action of the Holy Spirit, let us be guided by Him, let us be men and women of prayer, who bear witness to the Gospel with courage, becoming in our world instruments of the unity and communion of God. Thank you.

[Translation by Peter Waymel]


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Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, we now pass from the article on the Holy Spirit to that on the Church, "one, holy, catholic and apostolic". The Holy Spirit and the Church are in fact inseparable. The Spirit enlivens and guides the Church, and each of us within the Church, to carry out Christ’s mandate to make disciples of all peoples. He opens minds and hearts to the beauty and truth of the Gospel. The Spirit overcomes selfishness and division, creating unity, communion, reconciliation and love. The Spirit also instils the strength needed to bear courageous witness to the Risen Christ; he is the spirit of mission and evangelization. The fire of the Holy Spirit was sent down upon the Apostles at Pentecost in answer to their fervent prayer; ardent prayer in the Spirit must always be the soul of new evangelization and the heart of our lives as Christians. Let us renew each day our trust in the working of the Holy Spirit, open our hearts to his inspiration and gifts, and strive to be signs of unity and communion with God in the midst of our human family.


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