Lusaka (Agenzia Fides) - "The Church here is still young but certainly growing. May your efforts today and always produce fruit in vocations and in the effective proclamation of the Gospel. The Holy Father is near to you and assures you that you are an essential part of the Church of God. You are at the heart of the Church. Therefore, continue to intensify your efforts to promote pastoral work and evangelization, exhorting the young to seek Gospel ideals, forming them to create authentic Christian families founded on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as an indissoluble and permanent institution". This is what Cardinal Fernando Filoni said at the opening of the National Catholic Forum, which took place yesterday afternoon, November 9, in Lusaka.
As part of his pastoral visit to Zambia, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples gave a brief introductory speech at the opening of the Forum which brings together Bishops, representatives of associations of the clergy, religious and lay faithful, to discuss the life and mission of the Church in Zambia on the 125th anniversary of evangelization.
"Through the missionary impulse of the Holy Spirit - said the Cardinal -, the seeds of the faith were first brought here to Zambia by the White Fathers and Jesuit Fathers. Indeed, small seeds were already present in the culture and customs, such that today the faith has entered into the life of many here... You are indeed blessed with a Christian society here. However, I urge you to remain vigilant in not allowing forms of syncretism to dilute the authentic truth of Jesus Christ as taught by the Catholic Church".
Since the Forum will gather to discuss the state of pastoral life in Zambia, Cardinal Filoni urged to entrust each and the work of evangelization to the care of the Lord: "this trust in the Lord is especially needed in light of the challenges facing your beloved Country at this time: stressed agricultural production because of drought, unemployment, the resulting poverty felt by many, the terrible affliction of HIV/AIDS and malaria and the struggle to overcome tribal divisions. Do not be discouraged for the Lord is with you every step of the way and will continue to use you to make known the Kingdom of Heaven on earth".
Yesterday morning, Cardinal Filoni had presided over the celebration of Holy Mass in the Cathedral of the Child Jesus in Lusaka. During the liturgical feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Cathedral of Rome, the Prefect of the Congregation focused his homily on two fundamental aspects: "God dwells here among us, God dwells in us and fills us with His Spirit so that we can take Him to those in need".
"In the person of Jesus Christ, God became man and dwelt among us. In every Catholic church throughout the world, God continues to dwell with us in the Most Holy Eucharist", said the cardinal, who, referring to the First Reading of the day continued: "the presence of God in his churches, through the Word and the Sacraments, refreshes, gives life and bears the great fruit of joy". After his return to his Father in Heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to dwell not only with us but also in us, so that every baptized Christian has become temple of God in which the Spirit dwells, as Saint Paul reminds us. But the gift of the Spirit is to be shared and brought to others.
"This mission begins first in the family, in our homes where charity and forgiveness are learned", said the Cardinal, expressing the hope that homes will always be "a school of love, prayer and work", like that of the Holy Family. "God became a child to be near to us and to evoke a loving response from us - highlighted Cardinal Filoni -. With Christ as your true and only foundation, may the great work of evangelization, effectively underway here in Zambia for over 125 years, continue to draw the people of this great land to the love and mercy of God". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 10/11/2016)