By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Go Where You Are Really Needed

It strikes me that some very well-meaning fellow Christians have a tendency to focus too much on the local parish by seeking to start a new group or fellowship in an already healthy and thriving parish when, in fact, they should, so to speak, regularly "refill" themselves in such thriving parishes and then go forth to where they are really needed: in the public square of our stores, schools, businesses, and universities (especially secular universities), in the contemporary equivalents of the areopagus or public square (in the plural: areopagi) made famous by St. Paul in the book of Acts. That is one of the messages that I, for one, hear from the following papal story:

CHRISTIAN UNITY WILL FACILITATE EVANGELISATION

[Emphasis added]


VATICAN CITY, 16 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father to Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, for the plenary assembly of that dicastery, currently being held on the theme: "St. Paul and the new areopaghi".


The reference to the Areopagus in Athens where St. Paul announced the Gospel "represents a pressing call to make good use of today's 'areopaghi', where the great challenges of evangelisation are to be found", the Pope writes.


He also highlights how "the missionary activity of the Church must be oriented towards these nerve centres of society in the third millennium. Nor should we undervalue the influence of a widespread relativist culture, usually lacking values, which enters into the sanctuary of the family infiltrating the field of education and other areas of society, contaminating them and manipulating consciences, especially among the young. At the same time however, despite these snares, the Church knows that the Holy Spirit is always at work.


"New doors are being opened to the Gospel and a longing for authentic spiritual and apostolic renewal is spreading throughout the world", the Pope adds. "As in other periods of change, the pastoral priority is to show the true face of Christ. ... This requires each Christian community and the Church as a whole to offer witness of faithfulness to Christ, patiently building that unity He wanted and called for from all His disciples. In fact, Christian unity will make it easier to evangelise and to face the cultural, social and religious challenges of our time".


The Pope concludes his Message with a call "to imitate the lifestyle and the apostolic spirit" of the Apostle of the Gentiles, "focusing entirely on Christ. Through such complete adherence to the Lord, Christians will easily be able to transmit the heritage of faith to new generations, a heritage capable of transforming even difficulties into opportunities for evangelisation".