Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "For the month of October 2019 I asked the whole Church to live an extraordinary time of missionary activity to commemorate the centenary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum illud of Pope Benedict XV (November 30th 1919). The prophetic far-sightedness of his apostolic proposal confirmed how important it is still today to renew the Church's missionary commitment, to redevelop its mission to proclaim and bring to the world the salvation of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, in an evangelical sense". Thus writes Pope Francis in his Message for this year's World Mission Sunday, which has the same title as the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019: "Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on mission in the world". "Celebrating this month - the Pope writes - will help us first of all rediscover the missionary meaning of our adhesion of faith to Jesus Christ, faith freely received as a gift in Baptism".
In much of the Catholic world the Church habitually celebrates October as "Month of the Missions", using in particular the aids that the National Directions of the Pontifical Mission Societies prepare to remember the duty of every baptized person to collaborate in the universal mission of the Church with prayer and financial support. October was chosen as a missionary month in memory of the discovery of the American continent, which began a new page in the history of evangelization.
The month of October opens with the feast of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, from 1927 proclaimed Patroness of the Missions with Saint Francis Xavier, and has its culmination in the celebration of World Mission Sunday, the penultimate Sunday of the month, this year on the 20th October. In some countries the Day is held on another Sunday for pastoral reasons.
At 6 pm (Italian time) on Tuesday 1 October, the Holy Father will preside in the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, the celebration of solemn Vespers for the opening of the Extraordinary Missionary Month. The celebration will be preceded, starting at 5.15 pm (Italian time), by testimonies and prayers prepared by the eight Italian missionary institutes: Comboni and Saverian Missionaries, Missionaries of the Consolata, PIME and Missionaries of the Immaculate. At the end Pope Francis will deliver the crucifix to departing missionaries.
Since the Extraordinary Missionary Month involves and engages the universal Church, each local Church has organized moments of sharing, prayer and missionary commitment in this period according to its own context and situation. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 30/9/2019)