VATICAN - "The Kingdom of God is not built by us, but is a pure gift from Him". Monsignor Sangalli's speech during the course for diocesan directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Friday, 23 February 2024 evangelization   missionary animation   formation   pontifical mission societies  

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "The believer faces constant daily challenges, even in very difficult human contexts, in communion with the Lord through prayer. Without Him and without a real life of prayer, we may be only good social workers, but not true missionaries of the Gospel". With these words Monsignor Samuele Sangalli, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for the First Evangelization and the New Particular Churches), addressed on Thursday February 22nd to the diocesan directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), who were attending a training course at the International Center for Missionary Animation (CIAM).

The Undersecretary's speech, which focused on the importance of mission today and the Service of the Dicastery for Evangelization, was inspired by a prayer by the Spanish Jesuit Adolfo Nicolas, who was Provost General of the Society of Jesus from 2008 to 2016, and died in Tokyo, Japan, in 2020 (see attachment). "A wonderful prayer," said Sangalli, "that allows us every day to plan our life and our mission correctly. A kind of legacy for all Jesuits, but also, in my opinion, for all missionaries of the Gospel".

"This prayer," emphasized the Undersecretary of the Missionary Dicastery, "gives us much consolation and reminds us that we are called despite our weaknesses, or rather, we were called to this mission precisely because of our our shortcomings. These weaknesses constantly remind us how much we need the Lord, his support, his help, his Spirit, that is to say, his Grace. A true missionary is called to be humbly aware every day of his personal limitations, which often limit him and prevent him from fulfilling his service. To say: 'Well, Lord, despite and perhaps because of them, you have called me to gradually learn what it really means to rely on you and not on me. Because this mission is yours, and I am only the echo, the voice, the witness'.

"We should always start the day by invoking: 'Lord save me from myself'. "Otherwise we tend not to emphasize compliance with the will of God, the true good for all, but rather our own desires, our own ideas, our own plans, which, when they fail, make us angry, or fall into depression, or misjudge what you have experienced. It is then that we realize how different the Lord's path is from ours, and how He calls us to follow his plans, to learn what it truly means to love according to the heart of Christ, that is, to serve freely and fully available, wherever God sends us. We can purify ourselves from our failures, our defeats, our powerlessness and free ourselves from our delusion of protagonism by learning that only the Gospel of the One who rose from the dead can give substance to the life of a missionary and fill him with that joy and that deep peace of heart that does not depend on success or external recognition".

"It is worth remembering how Jesus, humanly speaking, completely failed to be recognized by his people as the Messiah announced by the prophets. He preached, he healed many people, but... where were all those he helped when he was in need, when he was in trial? They completely disappeared. Yet redemption was accomplished; victory over sin and death complete. We must remember this in order to measure the truth of our mission not by immediately verifiable successes, but by that fidelity to the Gospel and the intimate union with the Father, which can only be the fruit of a powerful spiritual path of docility to that grace that shapes us".

"Through his apparent failure, through the public shame of the Cross", Monsignor Sangalli continued, "Jesus showed us his perfect filial union of love with the Father - 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit' – and taught us this style of abandonment of ourselves so that this filial consciousness grows within us, which makes us witnesses of the Father's unconditional love, stronger, that is, victorious over death. We know that, especially when God asks us to go through moments of trial or disappointment, that is to experience the cross, we learn in our flesh what resurrection, what salvation, what peace comes into our hearts through our complete agreement with the plans of this God, whose deep closeness we feel even in his absence".

"Let us realize that the Kingdom of God is not a product of our works, but a pure gift from Him", said the Undersecretary in a passage of his speech, "through the events in which, historically the whole Church and we individuals walk in her and with her. Yes, conversion implies a total change in the parameters of our evaluation of ourselves and reality: and it must be invoked every day, with tenacity, as a Grace granted to us. So, Lord, save me from myself, from my projects, from my vision, and continually create in my heart an authentic conformity to your project which is revealed little by little on the path of my life and that of your Church".

"The sole reason for our existence and our mission", emphasized the Undersecretary, "is to be witnesses of this unconditional love, mercy and compassion that is God. That God of whom each of us is gratuitously and solemnly called, to the mission through which his Church is built, a sign and sacrament of salvation for all humanity. Many of you present here, he added, come from Africa, many from Nigeria, which is plagued by violence and kidnappings. We are fully aware that the issues you are working on are anything but simple. Am I speaking to someone who will one day be a martyr? I do not know, but we are aware that the context in which many of you work, in which you serve, may one day call you to extreme testimonies of love. Others before you have already done so, and we venerate their lives today as seeds of the Kingdom of God, as shining examples of a new humanity, as anticipation of that fulfillment of love which is the destiny to which every man and woman is called".

Monsignor Samuele Sangalli urged those present to place their personal conversion at the center of their mission in the Church.
Referring to the first pastoral letter of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini to the Diocese of Milan, Monsignor Sangalli concluded by highlighting the contemplative dimension of life, which opens up a completely different understanding of the fate of individuals and peoples. "Only in this way can conflicts be overcome, through a charity that knows how to put itself in the shoes and hearts of others. I know that it is not easy to maintain an open heart that is not hardened by the wickedness and hatred of the world. However, anchored in God and strengthened by spiritual love, it is possible to cross the sea of life as women and men filled with that light of hope that is faith and witness to the transforming power of love, with that style of dialogue that comes from a heart filled with God's devotion to humanity, which has captivated us, become the reason for our lives and guides us every day "on paths of reconciliation, acceptance, mutual understanding and peace". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 23/2/2024)