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EVANGELIZERS LIKE MARY

Dear friends of ADMA,

In the Catholic Church, the month of October is dedicated especially to reawakening the Universal Missionary Spirit in all the faithful. Hence during this month, called “Mission Month”, missionary animation is intensified. The Church invites Christians around the world to become aware of their common responsibility for the evangelization of the world. To this end, it encourages all the faithful to be missionaries, informing them about missions in the world, their needs and the importance and urgency of actively participating in them. It has five main goals: to make the Church's missionary activity known; to make all the faithful understand the importance of missions in today's world; to stimulate missionary fervour among all the faithful and promote missionary vocations; to promote Spiritual Missionary Cooperation through Prayer and generous offering for missions and missionaries around the world; and finally, to promote Material Missionary Cooperation by asking for financial support for Missions.


The penultimate Sunday in October, proclaimed "World Mission Day," is the highlight of the month. This day is celebrated in all local churches as a feast of Catholicism and universal solidarity.


Pope Pius XI was the driving force behind the World Mission Day. Elected Pope in 1922, he manifested his sensitivity and zeal for the Missions, demonstrated on the Feast of Pentecost that year, when he interrupted his Homily, arousing casual silence; he took his white sundress and circulated it among the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and Faithful in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, thus becoming himself the collector of the offerings in favour of Missions. At the request of PMS members, Pius XI on April 14, 1926 established the WORLD MISSION DAY.


A few months ago, Pope Francis began a new cycle of catechesis dedicated to a current and decisive theme for Christian life: passion for evangelization, that is, apostolic zeal.

This is a vital dimension for the Church: the community of Jesus' disciples is born apostolic, born missionary, not proselytizing, and from the very beginning we had to distinguish this: to be missionary, to be apostolic, to evangelize. The community of Jesus' disciples is born apostolic and missionary. The Holy Spirit shapes it by ‘going out,’ so that it does not close in on itself, but is extroverted, a contagious witness to Jesus, oriented to radiate his light to the ends of the earth.


But it can and sometimes does happen that the apostolic ardor, the desire to reach out to others with the Good News of the Gospel, diminishes, becomes lukewarm. Sometimes it seems to eclipse. We Christians close in on ourselves and do not think of others. But when Christian life loses sight of the horizon of evangelization, the horizon of proclamation, it becomes sick, it closes in on itself. Without apostolic zeal, faith withers. Mission, on the other hand, is the oxygen of Christian life: it invigorates and purifies it (General Audience, Jan. 11, 2023).


In this journey of evangelization, we look to Mary. We recall that in his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Evangelii Nuntiandi,’ Pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary as the “Star of Evangelization.”


"On the morning of Pentecost, Mary presided over, with her prayer, the beginning of evangelization under the influence of the Holy Spirit. May she be the star of the ever-renewed evangelization which the Church, docile to the Lord's command, must promote and carry out, especially in these difficult and hopeful times" (Paul VI, EN 82).


Paul VI is telling us that Mary was the first person to be evangelized, because having accepted to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, she was also the first to open her heart and welcome the Good News of Salvation that Jesus brought to the world. At the same time, Mary was the person who best lived the Gospel. Mary is the highest realization of the Gospel of Jesus. Mary is therefore the "star of evangelization," because she invites us by her example to welcome the saving message of her Son into our lives; she continually repeats to us that phrase she once uttered in Cana of Galilee that made possible Jesus' first miracle, a sign of his divinity: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn: 2,5). These words of Mary sum up her mission in the Church and with us. Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother in the order of grace, Mother of the whole Church, of pastors and faithful, the first and most faithful disciple and follower of Jesus and his message of love, constantly reminds us of the need for all of us to "do what Jesus tells us," to live as Jesus taught us by his word and life, to make the Gospel, the Good News, a living and working reality in the world.


How can we ‘evangelize’ today? Mary, the star of evangelization, invites all of us who believe in the risen Christ and seek to follow him, to love God above all things, giving him first place in our hearts and lives; to surrender ourselves confidently to his loving Providence; to love our brothers and sisters as Jesus has loved us and continues to love us; to forgive from the heart the offenses done to us and ask forgiveness for those we do to others; to face life with joy and enthusiasm, with faith and hope; to fight fearlessly and relentlessly against the evil and sin that persecute us; to be light of the world and salt of the earth; to be poor in spirit, detached from all that means in any way slavery and alienation from God; to be humble and simple as children; to be compassionate and merciful; to be clean of heart and mind; to love the truth, live in it and proclaim it boldly; to be determined to work to establish justice in the world; and to build peace by everyday actions.


It is a wonderful program to evangelize like Mary in this month of October, the month of Mary. Let us pray the rosary with the intention of evangelization of the whole Church. May it be our prayer to help us renew our vocation of being evangelizers.


Renato Valera, ADMA Valdocco President.

Fr. Alejandro Guevara, Spiritual Animator, ADMA Valdocco


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