CHAPTER IV: MISSIONARIES
In our article last month about no. 26 of Ad Gentes, we noted that the Fathers of
Vatican II, while drawing attention to two aspects of our world that future missionaries
should be made aware of in their training, namely, the universality of the Church and the
diversity of peoples, gave advice in no. 26 only about the second of these two realities, i.e.,
the diversity of peoples. Here I would like to take up the second reality, the universality
of the whole Church, despite the diversity of the peoples who belong to her.
Pope Francis captured the second aspect of the Church, its universality, very well in
his general audience on September 25, 2013. Herewith are several sentences from that
“In the Creed we say ‘I believe in one... Church.’ In other words, we profess that
the Church is one, and this Church by her nature is one. How can this be? We find a
concise answer in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
ccc_en.html>, which says the Catholic Church in the world ‘has but one faith, one
sacramental life, one apostolic succession, one common hope, and one and the same charity’
(n. 161). Unity in faith, hope and charity, unity in the sacraments, in the ministry: these are
like the pillars that hold up and keep together the one great edifice of the Church.
Wherever we go, even to the smallest parish in the most remote corner of this earth, there
is the one Church. We are at home, we are in the family, we are among brothers and sisters.
And this is a great gift of God!
“The Church is one for us all. There is not one Church for Europeans, one for
Africans, one for Americans, one for Asians, one for those who live in Oceania. No, she is
one and the same everywhere. It is like being in a family: some of its members may be far
away, scattered across the world, but the deep bonds that unite all the members of a family
stay solid however great the distance.”
The pope makes clear that this aspect of the Church has consequences for each one
of us: “As a Catholic, do I live this unity of the Church? Or doesn’t it concern me because
I am closed within my own small group or within myself? Am I one of those who ‘privatize’
the Church to their own group, their own country or their own friends? Am I indifferent,
or is it as if one of my family were suffering? When I think or hear it said that many
Christians are persecuted and give their lives for their faith, does this touch my heart or
not? Do I pray for my brother, for my sister who is in difficulty because they confess and
defend their faith? It is important to look beyond our own boundaries, to feel that we are
Church, one family in God!”
Mary, Mother of the Church, keep us united in faith, hope and love! Amen.