Missionary in a dugout canoe in Ecuador Â© Hans Knapp (KNA)
Pope Francis wants to proclaim October 2019 as a worldwide month of prayer for mission. He announced this at a meeting with representatives of the Pontifical Mission Societies on Saturday at the Vatican.
At the pope's request, an extraordinary month of prayer for mission will be held in October 2019. He made the announcement Saturday before representatives of the Pontifical Mission Societies at the Vatican. The initiative is meant to mark a "special time of prayer and reflection". The pope noted that he was responding to a proposal from mission agencies and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
"Let him who preaches God be a man of God"
To rekindle "zeal and passion" in mission is the goal of the month of prayer. In doing so, he recalled a papal letter from nearly 100 years ago: Pope Benedict XV. In his Apostolic Exhortation "Maximum illud", the Holy Father reminded us that missionaries themselves must live like saints for the success of their mission and enter into an "ever greater unity with Christ".
According to Francis, not much has changed in this regard. For: "Let him who preaches God be a man of God" (AAS XI , 449). Benedict XV. had called, among other things, for better preparation and training of missionaries and for them to be sensitive to the cultural and national characteristics of peoples.
Necessary reform of missionary organizations
In that sense, the Pontifical Mission Societies are "urgently" in need of reform, Francis said. Mission should not be limited to collecting and distributing funds for needy churches in the name of the Pope. "You know well this concern of mine," he semphasized, "I know that you are looking for new ways, more suitable, more ecclesial ways to exercise your service to the universal mission of the Church."
Renewal demands conversion and living the mission as a constant opportunity for proclaiming Christ, pope told.
Toward a "missionary church"
Already the preparation of the extraordinary month of prayer is important in the development of the mission, it already serves to transform the Church more and more into a "missionary Church," Francis appealed. Evangelization begins with an evangelization of the church itself. To do this, the Church must always renew and purify its power of proclamation, Francis quoted Blessed Montini Pope Paul VI.
He sees the extraordinary month of prayer itself as an opportunity to dedicate oneself to prayer, Bible study, mission and appreciation of the "many saints and martyrs of the mission". On the occasion of the liturgical feast day of the martyrs of Uganda this Saturday, the pope asked for the intercession of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions.