In a message sent to Bishop Salvatore Boccaccio of Frosinone, on the 17th centenary of the death of St. Ambrose, co-patron of the diocese, Pope John Paul II said the advance of secularism in societies formerly evangelized demands a heroic response of Christian sanctity.
In his message, the Pope recalled that “"In our times, secularism advances, threatening to lead societies of former evangelization to forms of agnosticism that constitute a real challenge for believers."
"In this context, the testimony of those who, out of fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel, have not hesitated to give their lives, acquires extraordinary eloquence. With their example, they encourage Christians to a courageous consistency to the point of heroism,” he said.
The Pope explained that, "Only those who are capable of following him to the end are able to place themselves without reservations at the service of man, the first and fundamental way of the mission of believers in the world."
Moreover, he emphasized that in order to respond to the apostolic commitment Christians should evangelize “bearing concrete witness to the love of God for each human being.”
"In the face of every person, without distinction of race or culture, and especially in the poorest and neediest of men, Christians recognize the luminous face of Christ," he said.
According to the Pope, "This is possible if we keep ourselves well anchored in prayer, if we nourish ourselves with the Eucharist and with the Word of God, if we renew ourselves constantly in the sacrament of reconciliation."
"The real priority for the baptized person consists in seeking holiness,” concluded the Pope, for "without a profound renewal of faith and holiness and without constant divine support, how could the ecclesial community face the great challenge of the new evangelization?"