VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is pointing to the Eucharist as the seed, nucleus and nourishment of missionary activity.
The Pope stated this Monday in an audience with Brazilian bishops in Rome for their five-yearly visit.
“The disappearance of the missionary spirit perhaps is not due so much to limitations and deficiencies in the external forms of the traditional missionary action but to forgetting that the mission must be nourished by a more profound nucleus,” the Pontiff said. “This nucleus is the Eucharist.”
“For the Continental Mission to be really effective, it must begin from the Eucharist and lead to the Eucharist,” he added, referring to the mission called for by Latin American and Caribbean bishops who gathered with Benedict XVI in 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil.
The Holy Father noted that Jesus came “to show us, with his words and his life, the ordinary ways of salvation, and he ordered us to transmit this revelation to others with his own authority.”
He continued, “This being so, we cannot elude this thought: Men might be saved by other ways, thanks to God’s mercy, if the Gospel is not proclaimed to them, but can I be saved if through negligence, fear, shame or because of following false ideas, I fail to proclaim it?”
Benedict XVI pointed out that “the call to the mission is not something destined exclusively to a restricted group of members of the Church, but an imperative addressed to every baptized person, an essential element of his vocation.”
“In fact," he said, “the mission is the overflowing of the flame of love that inflames in the heart of the human being, which, on opening to the truth of the Gospel and allowing himself to be transformed by it, begins to live his life.”
The Pope noted that “the challenges of the present context could lead to a reductionist view of the concept of mission.”
He stated that this concept “cannot be limited to a simple search for new techniques and ways that make the Church more attractive and capable of overcoming the competition with other religious groups or relativist ideologies.”
The Pontiff continued: “The Church does not work for itself: It is at the service of Jesus Christ; it exists to make the Good News accessible to all people.
“The Church is catholic precisely because it invites every human being to experience the new existence in Christ.
“Hence, the mission is no more than the natural consequence of the very essence of the Church, a service of the ministry of the union that Christ willed to carry out in his crucified body.”
Bishop Franz Merkel of Humaita, president of the regional episcopal conference of those prelates who met with the Holy Father on Monday, explained some of the challenges of missionary work in his country.
In an interview published Sunday by L’Osservatore Romano, the prelate spoke about the difficulties ministering to thousands of small villages in the Amazon region.
He highlighted the role of the laity “both within the communities as well as in the social and political realm.”
On many occasions, the bishop said, they are the ones who “carry forward the way of faith.”
He expressed his concern over the constant growth of sects, especially the Pentecostal communities that began to spread 100 years ago with the arrival of the Assembly of God. “They work where the Catholic Church is not present,” the prelate stated.
Bishop Merkel noted, however, that the evangelizing work of many Catholics, who work through educational activities on Scripture, “is already giving results.”
He pointed out that, due to the vastness of the territory, the Church also uses the media as a platform of evangelization. For example, the majority of dioceses have their own radio stations.
“A large diocese such as Porto Velho has its own broadcasting station that transmits over an area of hundreds of kilometers and reaches the populations dispersed in the interior of the forest,” the prelate explained.
He noted that bishops and priests also use the Internet to reach the people throughout the dioceses, noting that “we use some pamphlets and monthly publications to maintain contact with our faithful.”