Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "If we do not want stagnant water" in the Church, then we "must move from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry", which is what the Neocatechumenal Way has been doing "for years".
This is how Pope Francis expressed his encouragement to the communities of the Way describing them as "a true gift of Providence to the Church of our times", as he received them this morning in the Paul VI. The occasion marked the Holy Father's commissioning of their mission ad gentes to the nations of the world.
During the meeting the families who will go out on mission were presented as they prepare to leave for their assigned country, which include France, Germany, Ukraine, Kosovo, China, Vietnam and Papua New Guineas but to name a few.
Firstly, Pope Francis reaffirmed his desire to "to confirm your call, to support your mission, to bless your charism" and expressed his "appreciation" and "gratefulness" to the "initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, together with Father Mario Pezzi, the great benefit the Way has brought to the Church. He said "I always say that the Neocatechumenal Way does great good in the Church".
"Our meeting today - he said - is a missionary commissioning, in obedience to what Christ asked us: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved "(Mk 16,15-16). And I am particularly glad that this mission is carried out thanks to Christian families, united in a community, who have the mission to give witness to our faith that attract people to the beauty of the Gospel, in the words of Christ: "This is how all will know that you are my disciples"(cf. Jn 13:34), and "be one and the world may believe" (cf. Jn 17:21). These communities, called by the Bishops, are formed by a priest and four or five families, with children some even grownups, and are a "missio ad gentes", with a mandate to evangelize non-Christians. So, even before words, it is your witness of life that manifests the heart of Christ's revelation: that God loves man to the point of laying down His life for us and that he was raised by the Father to give us the grace to give our lives for others. Today's world badly needs this great message. How much solitude, how much suffering, how much distance from God in the many peripheries of Europe and America, and in many cities of Asia! Today, in every latitude, humanity greatly needs to hear that God loves us and that love is possible! These Christian communities, thanks to you missionary families, have the essential task of making this message visible".
"You have received the strength to leave everything behind and set off for distant lands through a process of Christian initiation, experienced and lived in small communities, where you have rediscovered the immense riches of your Baptism. This is the Neocatechumenal Way, a true gift of Providence to the Church of our time, as my predecessors have already stated; especially St. John Paul II when he said: "I recognize the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for society and for our times" (Epist. Whenever, August 30, 1990: AAS 82 , 1515). The Way is based on the three dimensions of the Church which are the Word, Liturgy and Community. So obedient and constant listening to the Word of God; the Eucharistic celebration in small community after the first Vespers of Sunday, the family celebration of lauds on Sunday with all the children gathered round and sharing their faith with other brothers and sisters are at the origin of the many gifts the Lord has given to you as well as the many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. It is a great consolation to see all of this, because it confirms that the Spirit of God is alive and active in His Church, even today, and that He meets the needs of modern man".
"On several occasions - he concluded - I have insisted that the Church has to move from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry (cf. ibid., N. Evangelii gaudium, 15). This is the most important thing to do if we do not want the Church to become stagnant water stagnating. For years now the Way has been undertaking these missio ad gentes among non-Christians, for an implantatio Ecclesiae,, a new presence of the Church, where the Church does not exist or is no longer able to reach people. "How much joy you give us with your presence and your activity!" - said Blessed Pope Paul VI during the very first audience with you (May 8, 1974: Teachings of Pope Paul VI, XII , 407). I also make these words my own and encourage you to move forward, entrusting you to the Blessed Virgin Mary who inspired the Neocatechumenal Way. May she intercede for you with her divine Son. My dearly beloved, may the Lord accompany you. Go forth, with my Apostolic Blessing".