By Gerard Gough

AT A June 3 audience with the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Pope Francis announced that October 2019 will be an ‘extraordinary time for prayer and reflection’ devoted to the missions.

The Holy Father explained to those assembled in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace—including Missio Scotland’s own Fr Vincent Lockhart (above)—that he had chosen the date two years from now in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Maximum Illud, Pope Benedict XV’s apostolic letter on the propagation of the faith.

The Extraordinary Missionary Month will also be aimed at promoting the missionary commitment of the Church in line with Pope Francis’ own 2013 missionary Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium.

In addressing the near 170 participants, Pope Francis focused on the need to cultivate personal habits of life conducive to holiness, foster an even stronger union with Christ and announce the Gospel to all while showing mercy towards everyone.

“Renewing oneself requires conversion,” the Pope said, “It requires living mission as an on-going opportunity to proclaim Christ, to let Him be encountered by bearing witness and making others participants in our personal encounter with Him.”

“I hope that your spiritual and material assistance to the Church makes it increasingly based upon the Gospel and the baptismal involvement of all the faithful, lay and clerical, in the single mission of the Church—bringing God’s love to every man, especially those most in need of His mercy,” the Holy Father added. “The extraordinary month of prayer and reflection on the mission as first evangelisation will serve for this renewal of ecclesial faith, so that the Easter of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, Lord and bridegroom of His Church, always be and remain in Her heart.”

In concluding the meeting, the Pope expressed the hope that the prayer and reflection that will take place in October 2019 will ‘contribute to evangelising, first and foremost, the Church, so that having rediscovered the freshness and zeal of the first love for the crucified and risen Lord, She may evangelise the world with credibility and evangelical efficacy.’

gerard@missio.scot