Pope Francis today promised some 250 families being sent on mission through the Neocatechumenal Way that “I remain here, but in my heart I come with you.”
The Holy Father addressed 8,000 members of the Catholic lay community founded in the early 60s in one of the slums of Madrid by Kiko Argúello and Carmen Hernandez.
Today’s audience marked the establishment of 50 new “missio ad gentes,” mission communities created at the request of local bishops and composed of four or five families – the majority of which have more than four children—as well as a presbyter, a youth and two lay women.
The 250 families being sent out will receive their destination this week. At their destination, they will form a community entrusted with the mission to give signs of faith which will attract men and women to the beauty of the Gospel.
Pope Francis spoke with the families about three key words: “unity, glory and world.”
Regarding unity, the Holy Father reminded them that the communion of the Church was Jesus’ fervent prayer at the Last Supper.
“The enemy of God and man, the devil, can do nothing against the Gospel, against the humble strength of prayer and of the Sacraments, but he can do much harm to the Church by tempting our humanity,” the Pontiff warned. “He causes presumption, judgment on others, closures, divisions. He, himself, is ‘the divider’ and he often begins by making us believe that we are good, perhaps better than others: thus the terrain is ready to sow darnel. It is the temptation of all communities and it can insinuate itself also in the most beautiful charisms of the Church.”
The Pope praised the charism of the Neocatechumenal Way, and urged them to protect it.
“How? By following the masterful way: humble and obedient unity. If this exists, the Holy Spirit continues to work, as He did in Mary, open, humble and obedient,” he said.
Glory and world
Regarding the word glory, the Holy Father recalled that the glory of God was revealed on the cross.
“It is love, which shines there and spreads. It is a paradoxical glory: without noise, without profit, and without applause. But only this glory renders the Gospel fecund,” he said. “Thus Mother Church is also fecund when she imitates the merciful love of God, which is proposed but not imposed. It is humble; it acts like rain on the earth, as the air that is breathed, like a small seed that bears fruit in silence. Whoever proclaims love can only do so with the same style of love.”
Then the Pope urged the families to love the world as God does.
“Show to the children the tender gaze of the Father and consider the reality you encounter a gift,” he encouraged. “Familiarize yourselves with the cultures, the languages and the local usages, respecting them and recognizing the seeds of grace that the Spirit has already scattered.”
The Pope thanked the families in his name and in that of the whole Church, “for this gesture of going, of going to the unknown and also to suffer. Because there will be suffering, but there will also be the joy of God’s glory, the glory that is on the Cross. I accompany you and encourage you, and I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. I remain here, but in my heart I come with you.”
Among the destinations in Europe (a total of 40) to which some of these families will be sent to at the request of the bishops are more than 10 cities in France including Biarritz, Bourdeaux, Toulouse, Orange, Pamiers, and Mulhouse.
Other countries to which families will be sent to evangelize include Luxembourg, Ireland, Sweden, Great Britain, Lithuania, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Cyprus, Serbia, Austria, Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan.
In the Americas, families will be sent to several cities in the United States, Canada, and Peru, while in Asia families will go to India and China, among other countries to be determined.
In Oceania, some missio ad gentes will be destined for Australia and Papua New Guinea while in Africa some will go to Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Ecuatorial Guinea, and Nigeria.
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