VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- During the month of September, John Paul II will pray “that in Africa authentic brotherly cooperation may develop among all those who work for the growth and development of ecclesial communities.”
The missionary intention was announced by the Apostleship of Prayer.
Africa has “light and hope despite the shadows” it endures, because the people “live with a strong sense of religion, which permeates and affects every aspect of life and live daily in a spirit of solidarity, a strong traditional value,” explained Sister Giuseppina Tresoldi, a missionary in Uganda.
Moreover in Africa, “the Church is the ‘family of God,’ and this is the most suitable image to convey the spirit of faith in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a community therefore and supreme relation in unity,” Sister Giuseppina said in a commentary published by the Vatican agency Fides, adding that “all the baptized are called to collaborate to promote the growth of God’s family, the Holy Church.”
The “contribution of every individual is necessary and appreciated,” the sister stressed. “Growth is promoted through witness and practice of the faith confirmed with works of charity, prayer, and union and growth of all around the table of the Eucharist and through the celebration of the other sacraments, channels of grace and salvation for all,” she added.
“In ecclesial communities in Africa, there is a rich and diversified participation in this growth, under the guidance of the bishops and priests in the local Churches,” she explained.
On one hand, there are the “Christian families, small domestic churches, where initiation to the Christian life begins inserted on the most sacred cultural values, such as hospitality, solidarity and fraternity, regardless of ethnic or tribal differences.”
There is also a “great variety of African men and women in different communities and ministries consecrated to God and to evangelization,” and “lay persons committed to transforming the environment in which they live, offering a witness of a life culturally and spiritually rich,” she said.
On the other hand, priests are “called to express in their life and ministry the redeeming mystery of Christ and to guide and coordinate the faithful in the variety of their gifts and in common efforts to promote the growth of the Church…as a community of communion,” Sister Giuseppina continued.
Also collaborating in the growth of the ecclesial community are “those working in Catholic schools at all levels to build a Christian culture through education,” and those working “in the sector of communications” or operating “in the field of justice and peace.”
In addition “we see the rising and spread of various ecclesial movements and associations whose aim is the growth of Church life through apostolic activity and spiritual dynamism, which stems from the word of God, listened to and welcomed as word of life,” she said.
Sister Giuseppina concluded by stating that this “month’s prayer intention takes us by the hand and helps us enter the great family of God, the Church in Africa, to rejoice for its development and vitality and to pray that the efforts and commitment of those working for its growth may proceed in harmony and under the banner of brotherhood.”
Every month the Holy Father also offers his prayers for a general intention, which in September is: “May the elderly be recognized as a richness for the spiritual and human growth of society.”