By Pope Francis
Evangelization is the Church’s mission. It is not the mission of only a few, but it is mine, yours, and our mission. The apostle Paul exclaimed: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16).” We must all be evangelizers, especially with our lives! Paul VI stressed that “evangelization is…the grace and vocation proper to the church; her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14).”
Who is the real driving force of evangelization in our lives and in the church? Paul VI wrote clearly: “It is the Holy Spirit who today, just as at the beginning of the church, acts in those who allows themselves to be possessed and led by him. The Holy Spirit places on our lips the words which we cannot find by ourselves; and at the same time, the Holy Spirit prepares the soul of the listener to be open and receptive to the Good News of the kingdom being proclaimed (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 75).”
In order to evangelize, it is necessary to open ourselves again to the horizon of God’s spirit without being afraid of what he asks us or where he leads us. Let us entrust ourselves to him! The Holy Spirit will enable us to live out and bear witness to our faith; and he will illuminate the hearts of those we encounter each day. This was the experience at Pentecost. Gathered in the Upper Room with Mary, “there appeared to the apostles tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in other tongues as the Spirit instructed them (Acts 2:3-4).”
In coming down upon the apostles, the Holy Spirit makes them leave the room they had locked themselves into out of fear. He prompts them to step out of themselves and transforms them into heralds and witnesses of the “mighty works of God (Acts 2:11).” Moreover, this transformation, brought about by the Holy Spirit reverberated in the multitudes that had arrived “from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5)” because each one heard the apostles as if they had been “speaking in his own language (Acts 2:6).”
This is one of the first effects of the action of the Holy Spirit who guides and enlivens the proclamation of the Gospel: unity, communion. It was in Babel, according to the biblical account, that the dispersion of people and the confusion of languages had begun; the results of the pride and conceit of the people who wanted to build, by themselves and without God, “a city and a tower with its top in the heavens (Genesis 11:4).”
At Pentecost, these divisions were overcome. There was no longer conceit with regard to God. There was going out to proclaim his word: a new language of love that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (see Romans 5:5). This is a language that everyone can understand; a language that once learned can be expressed in every life and in every culture. The language of the Holy Spirit, the language of the Gospel, is the language of communion that invites us to overcome isolation and indifference, division and antagonism.
We must ask ourselves: Do I allow myself to be guided by the Holy Spirit in such a way that my life and my witness of faith are both unity and communion? Do I convey the word of reconciliation and love, which is the Gospel, in my life and community? It sometimes seems like we are repeating today what happened at Babel: division, inability to understand each other, rivalry, envy, egoism.
What do I do with my life? Do I create unity around me? Or do I cause division by gossip, criticism, or envy? What do I do? Let us think about these questions. Sharing the Gospel means that we are the first to proclaim and live the reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity, and love that the Holy Spirit gives to us. Let us remember the words of Jesus: “It is by your love for one another that everyone will recognize you as my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).”
A second element is the day of Pentecost. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. He stood with the other apostles. He “lifted up his voice (Acts 2:14)” and “confidently (Acts 2:29)” proclaimed the Good News of Jesus, who gave his life for our salvation and was raised from the dead. This is another effect of the Holy Spirit’s action in our lives: the courage to proclaim the Good News to everyone, confidently, with a strong voice, in every time and in every place. This still happens in the Church and within each one of us: the fire of Pentecost, from the action of the Holy Spirit, releases an ever-new energy for mission; new ways to proclaim the message of salvation; new courage for evangelization.
Let us never close ourselves to this action! Let us live the Gospel with humility and courage! Let us give witness to the newness, hope, and joy that the Lord brings to our lives! Let us feel within us “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelization (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80)” because proclaiming Jesus give us joy! By contrast, egoism makes us bitter, sad, and depressed. Evangelizing uplifts us!
I will now mention a third point which is particularly important: a new evangelization. This means that church which evangelizes must always start with prayer, with asking as the apostles asked in the Upper Room, for the fire of the Holy Spirit. Only a faithful and intense relationship with God makes it possible to get out of our own selfishness and proclaim the Gospel with honesty. Without prayer, our actions are empty and our proclamation has no soul; it is not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Source: General Audience (May 22, 2013)
The Assisi Project
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
Saturday, June 29th
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim Achadinha and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that seeks to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the inspiration of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Our mission is to serve the Church and to give witness to the Good News of Christ through formation and prayer, pilgrimage and retreat, and educating others about our way of life. On the last Saturday of each month (with some exceptions), the Assisi Project meets at 8:00am for “Saturday Morning with Saint Francis” in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church (located at 142 Prospect Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts). Each gathering is a two-hour mini-retreat that includes Mass, formation, faith sharing, and fellowship. Coffee and refreshments are served.
This year, our formation is focused on studying the book, The Franciscan Saints, by Robert Ellsberg. This wonderful new book profiles 101 saints whose lived in the spirit of Saint Francis and offer us the courage and inspiration to follow in their footsteps. In preparation for our next “Saturday Morning with Saint Francis,” scheduled for Saturday, June 29th, we will be reading and reflecting on the following chapters in the book:
- June 7: Blessed Humiliana of Cerchi (p. 23)
- June 13: Saint Anthony of Padua (p. 15)
- June 20: Blessed Michelina of Pesaro (p. 73)
- June 22: Saint Thomas More (p. 97)
- June 30: Blessed Ramon Lull (p. 63)
- June 30: Mother Mary Francis Bachmann (p. 146)
If you are interested in growing closer to Christ Jesus and learning more about Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi (and other Franciscan saints), please prayerfully consider joining us! You do not need to travel with us to Assisi to be part of the Assisi Project! Our members, friends, and followers range in age from 17 to 94! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a tax exempt non-profit charitable corporation. All donations support our ministry and our tax deductible. For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for faith formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
Follow us on Twitter: @Assisi_Project