Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Since the outset of his magisterium, Pope Francis has repeatedly called our attention to the necessity to bring about a major missionary awakening based on the evangelical approach to the Church’s mission in the world. This calling is in keeping with Pope Benedict XV’s insight in the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, and on the revitalization of the missio ad gentes “as engine and horizon of the faith”. A renewed missionary engagement of all Christians is in deed necessary at a time when mission needs to regain its true significance, life force, and evangelizing drive, “so that the spirit of the missio ad gentes may animate the path of the Church” today and for the future. An evangelizer by nature, the Church should always begin by evangelizing herself: this is the only way to ensure that she is able to preserve her freshness and the Apostolic courage to be recreated and reformed with new modes of Christian presence (Gaudete et Exsultate, 130-132), so as to continue to effectively respond to Jesus’ command “to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear” (Evangelii Gaudium, 23).
The Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019, announced by the Holy Father to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Maximum Illud, is thus a “providential occasion” to revive in the faithful the missionary “boldness”, “courage”, and “zeal of those who first proclaimed the Gospel”.
The chosen theme for this initiative, “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”, reveals the missionary dimension of our Baptism, as being sent on mission is a call that comes with Baptism and is for all the baptized. The “regular book for prayer and meditation” of the Baptized and Sent of all times – Pope Francis highlights – cannot but be the Acts of the Apostles. The “community of missionary disciples” that began evangelization from “Jerusalem […] to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) is their main source of “inspiration” and guiding star in the mission of evangelization and faith witness they are called to execute as members of the Church. (...)