Pope Benedict XVI exhorted Catholics on Monday, the memorial of St. Therese of Lisieux, patroness of the missions, to “untiringly recognize the importance of the missions, so that in all places Christ may be known and loved.”
In a letter dated September 12 and published yesterday, the Holy Father wrote to Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, that his call echoes that of Pius XII in the encyclical Fidei Donum, inviting Christians to “renew their commitment to the missions unto the ends of the earth, affirming that the cooperation of the entire Church is needed for the spreading of the Gospel.”
Benedict XVI later recalled that “the Pilgrimage of Lisieux and the services of the missionary Cooperation of the Bishops’ Conference of France supported the designation of 2007 as a Year of the Missions in Lisieux.”
“With the same spirit, aware of the concern for the missions of the Church in France, I express the desire that missionary vocations to the priesthood, religious life and among the laity spread throughout the continents, as in past centuries. May the Lord inspire in the hearts of many European young people the desire to give themselves completely to the proclamation of the salvation of Christ, especially in Africa, South America and Oceania!” the Pope exclaimed.
The Holy Father recalled that St. Therese, “without leaving her Carmel,” lived “an authentic missionary spirit in her own way,” offering “to the world a new spiritual way which earned her the title Doctor of the Church. From Pius XI to our days, the Popes have not ceased to reiterate the link between prayer, charity and action in the mission of the Church.”
“Therefore I desire that the celebrations in Lisieux in this Year of the Missions strengthen the missionary sense in all of the baptized, through prayer, testimony of life and Christian determination in all of its forms, so that every member of the faithful can be a missionary wherever they live,” the Pope said in conclusion.