Monday, March 2, 2009

THE WARNING: THE MISSIONARY CHURCH


The Church is being prepared. The Lord has been readying His Church for the greatest of its missionary efforts, the evangelization of the modern world. Vatican Council II irrevocably altered the direction of the Catholic Church, summoning us back to our primitive fervor and biblical roots, charting for us a new course which has for its destination the conversion of the entire world. The Council Fathers speak not only to the Church itself gathered around the successor of Saint Peter, the Pope, but to our "separated brethren" of the other Christian Churches, and also to the world that is neither Catholic nor Christian. The bishops break the barriers to dialogue by addressing in the Council even those who have never heard the Word of Christ. Their attitude re-stimulates in us the belief that God's Word still has all the power and life it needs to redeem the masses of humanity. The Bishops of the Council assumed the responsibility, issuing from Christ's command, to preach the Gospel to all the nations on the face of the earth. For centuries there have been insuperable obstacles, political, economic, cultural, and otherwise, to this enterprise. But today, many of the forces once antithetical to evangelizing are crumbling. Because of modern technological advances, improvements in communications, political cooperation among many nations, multi-national resources, and other developments, we are fast moving toward geopolitical unity. A similar unity was characteristic of the Roman world in the time of Christ and the apostolic Church. For some three hundred years the Mediterranean Sea was considered a "Roman Lake" across which missionaries like Saint Paul had free access to all the civilized world they knew, and to all its population centers. The "Pax Romana," or Roman Peace, reigned under the Caesars. Not without difficulty, but blessed by the world-situation, the people of the Roman Empire, slave and free, rich or poor, commoner, nobleman, emperor, eventually all entered the Church through the preaching of the apostles of the time. God had made ready the world, in the fullness of time, for the mystery and power of the "Good News" of Jesus Christ. With the indomitable strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the spread of the Gospel and the Church met with total success. Today the Catholic Church looks toward her future with a new awareness of her call to evangelize. Not only did a recent Synod of Bishops (1974) state their commitment to it, but from the grassroots, among Catholics particularly, a new zeal to proclaim the Gospel throughout the whole world is becoming evident. God is preparing His Church for the great age of evangelization that is about to appear.

[To be continued . . .]