Father Cyprian Ahore of the Catholic mission in Duekoue in the Ivory Coast talks to a child earlier this year. CNS photo/Thierry Gouegnon, Reuters

Mission work requires Gospel joy, living God's love, Pope says

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • July 9, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Bringing God's word to mission lands is successful only when missionaries live the Gospel with joy and share the love and goodness they receive from God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"What is good has the inherent need to be conveyed, to give itself; it cannot stay closed up in itself (because) something good and goodness itself are essentially 'communicatio,'" that is, sharing with others, he said during a brief visit to a center belonging to the missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word.

The Pope, who began his vacation July 3 at the papal summer villa of Castel Gandolfo, took a short trip July 9 to the center in the nearby village of Nemi, in the Alban hills southeast of Rome. He used his cane when entering the center's chapel and when walking the grounds.

The Pope said he had fond memories of the center where he spent a week in the spring of 1965 working with three dozen other prelates to draft the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity ("Ad Gentes").

Then-Father Joseph Ratzinger was a theological consultant during Vatican II and was appointed to an editorial commission, led by Verbite Father Johannes Schutte, to help prepare the draft document of the decree.

Father Schutte's invitation to be part of the commission came as a surprise to 37-year-old Father Ratzinger, as "I was a very young theologian of no great importance," the Pope said during an informal talk to Verbite fathers attending their general chapter meeting.

Being in the company of so many eminent theologians and charged with "such an important and beautiful task to prepare a decree on mission" represented "spiritual enrichment and a great gift for me," the Pope said, adding that it was "perhaps the most memorable" time he had during the whole council.

Though there was a slight debate going on at the time, "which I never really understood," as to whether the goal of mission was to "implant the church" or proclaim the Gospel, all sides came together in "the need to bring the light of the Word of God, the light of God's love to the world and to give new joy to this message," he said.

The Pope said it is part of a Christian's duty "to give to others the good that we have received."

He praised the flourishing of vocations in the Society of the Divine Word, which has more than 6,000 members in 70 countries.

"Clearly missionary dynamism lives on and it lives only if there is Gospel joy and if we experience the good that comes from God that must and wants to be communicated."

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