On World Mission Sunday

«Prayer Is the First Missionary Duty of Each One of Us»

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POMPEII, Italy, OCT. 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with the crowds gathered at the shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii. The Pope’s one-day visit to the Marian shrine takes place on World Mission Sunday, and in the middle of the world Synod of Bishops, which is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After the solemn Eucharistic celebration and the traditional Supplication of the Madonna of Pompeii, following our customary Sunday practice, we once again turn our gaze to Mary with recitation of the Angelus, and we entrust to her the great petitions of the Church and of humanity.

We especially pray for the ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops that is taking place in Rome and that has “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” as its theme, that it might bear the fruit of authentic renewal in every Christian community.

Another special prayer intention is offered to us by World Mission Day, which in this Pauline Year proposes for our meditation these celebrated words of the Apostle of the Gentiles: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

In this month of October, the month of missions and of the rosary, how many faithful and how many communities offer the holy rosary for missionaries and for evangelization! For this reason I am very glad to find myself today here in Pompeii, in the most important shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. This gives me the opportunity to emphasize with greater insistence that prayer is the first missionary duty of each one of us. It is first of all through prayer that the way for the Gospel is prepared; it is through prayer that hearts are opened to the mystery of God and that souls are disposed to receive his Word of salvation.

On this day there is yet another happy coincidence to mention. Today in Lisieux, France, Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin are being beatified, the parents of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, whom Pius XI declared patroness of the missions. Through their prayer and their evangelical witness St. Thérèse’s parents accompanied and shared the journey of their daughter, who was called by the Lord to unconditionally consecrate herself to him within the walls of Carmel. It was there, in the obscurity of the cloister, that St. Thérèse realized her vocation “to be love in the heart of the Church” («Manuscrits autobiographiques,» Lisieux 1957, 229).

With the beatification of the Martins in mind, I would like to recall another intention that is close to my heart: the family, whose role is fundamental in nurturing in their children a universal spirit, open and responsive to the world and its problems, and in forming vocations to missionary life. And so, following in our heart the pilgrimage that so many families made a month ago to this shrine, we call upon the maternal protection of the Madonna of Pompeii for all the families of the world, already looking forward to the 4th World Family Meeting that is being planned for Mexico City in January 2009.

[The Pope continued in French]

On this World Mission Day, we especially join with the pilgrims gathered in Lisieux for the beatification of Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, patroness of the missions.

They proclaimed the Gospel of Christ through their exemplary married life. They lived their faith ardently and transmitted it to their family and all around them. May their prayers be a source of joy and hope for all parents and all families.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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