VATICAN - The Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization to the diocesan directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies: “'The mission is mine, not yours,' said the Lord to Saint Francis”

Friday, 19 April 2024 dicastery for evangelization   pontifical mission societies   mission   evangelization   mercy   saints  

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "If we do not have a deep awareness of the meaning and importance of mission in the Church, we would reduce the Pontifical Mission Societies to an organization for collecting and distributing donations, of which there are so many today. It is Rather, it is necessary to help people listen to their own wounds and failures, as St. Francis did on Mount La Verna."

In his address to the diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies who took part in a training organized at the Missionary Animation Center (see Fides, 13/4/2024), Monsignor Samuele Sangalli, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization, focused on the prayer to Saint Francis written by Pope Francis, which he delivered in recent days to the Friars of the Italian Franciscan monastery “La Verna” on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the appearance of the Stigmata received by the Saint (see attachment).

"This prayer 'to the man wounded by love' – continued the Undersecretary – takes us to the core of the mission. What does to evangelize mean, considering that the Dicastery for Evangelization reminds the whole Church that this is our goal, our raison d'être? And when we think about our mission, we should always start from the two questions of Saint Francis in 'La Verna': 'Lord, who are you and who am I?' So let's go back to the basics. Let us return to the basics of our faith and Christianity. Why are we here, why are we missionaries, who sends us and why?".

"The most important thing," continued Father Sangalli, "is our simple presence before we act. Very often we feel demotivated because we don't get the answers we expected, and so the temptation is to do less and to close ourselves off. In the face of apparent fruitlessness or even failure, we must recognize the winged Seraphim who calls us to a more intense adaptation to the surrender of our whole self to the Father, becoming like the Crucified and Resurrected One. "The Church is mine. The mission is mine, not yours," said the Lord to St. Francis. We are called to cultivate the soil and then let the Spirit work according to his time and his ways".

"The prayer to the man wounded by love reminds us, first of all, that we are all people in need and wounded," continued the Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization. "Each of us has our own story and that makes us stand in solidarity with all our other brothers and sisters in the world. Let's assume that we are wounded, that we need mercy, that we need love, that we all seek that great embrace that the Lord does not deny to anyone. This is evangelization, this is the message we can convey within and outside our communities. We are wounded, we are fragile, we are weak and we seek comfort, peace, tenderness, compassion, that which comes from the unconditional love of God. Let us reflect on Christ's passion, consider his words, touch his wounds and through them his love for us, his compassion for us. We must allow our deep wounds to be healed by the love, mercy and compassion of Christ in order to become, like Francis, witnesses of his mercy".

"This – said the Undersecretary of the Missionary Dicastery – is the good news that makes us proclaimers of the Gospel. We are witnesses of his mercy wherever we are, in whatever situation we find ourselves. If this is replaced by frantic activism that is an end in itself, our mission will be a useless waste of time. Spiritual conversion is at the heart of our mission. If we do not share this deep hope, the sign of the resurrection, how can we continue to be missionaries? And without this missionary spirit, the Church loses its distinctiveness, its essence as a 'field hospital' that welcomes and cares for everyone, as Pope Francis says again and again. We must invite people to return to themselves, to feel the need for Christ's love and to long for his comfort".

"We are not self-sufficient," concluded Monsignor Sangalli. "This is contrary to the entire culture that tells us to be strong, to be assertive, to deny our weaknesses, our deepest and truest needs. We are begging for love, and only by finding solidarity and compassion can I share it with others. Otherwise I only share my selfishness. We have to be very careful because behind activism there is often frustration. The feeling of being self-sufficient and not needing compassion, mercy and solidarity is a big lie on which this world is unfortunately built and which in the end leads to conflict and antagonism and not to the harmony and peace that humanity needs for a peaceful present and a dignified future". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 19/4/2024)