CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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World Mission Month

EACH October, the Church asks our prayers for the specific intention of evangelisation. This goes back to 1926, when Pope Pius XI initiated special collections to fund the evangelisation work of the universal Church.
 
The start of World Mission Month is also the feast day (October 1) of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a doctor of the Church. Born in France, she entered a cloistered convent at the age of 16 and subsequently bore witness to the Lord by leading a humble, contemplative life.
 
Many might wonder how missionary work could be done from inside the walls of a cloistered convent. St. Thérèse constantly prayed for missionaries and missionary work, and even vowed to do so after her death. On 30 September 1897, she died at peace with God. She was canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
 
Pope John Paul II, in his lifetime, said that St. Thérèse ardently desired to be a missionary and indeed, she was one.
 
Another patron of Catholic missions is St. Francis Xavier. He travelled across continents, from Portugal eastward to India, Japan and China to spread the gospel.
 
It is amazing and encouraging that while both saints’ modes of vocations were different, in following God’s call, were able to commit themselves to missionary work in different ways.
 
In October, the Synod of Bishops on Youth (October 3 to 28) will be held in Rome. Pope Francis, since assuming the pontificate, has repeatedly encouraged the faithful to go out from their own comfort zones in to reach all corners in need of the light of the gospel.
 
In this year’s message for World Mission Day, the pope specially mentioned young people, information technology and going to the ends of the earth: “The ends of the earth, dear young people, nowadays are quite relative and always easily ‘navigable.’ The digital world—the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available—dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences. Everything appears within reach, so close and immediate. And yet lacking the sincere gift of our lives, we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life.”
 
The pope encouraged young people: “… this coming October, the month of the missions, we will hold the Synod devoted to you. It will prove to be one more occasion to help us become missionary disciples, ever more passionately devoted to Jesus and His mission, to the ends of the earth.”
 
We would also like to invite Catholic young people to live out and deepen their love for God in prayer and in action, together.
 
At the time writing, news emerged that the Vatican and China would sign a new agreement on the appointment of bishops and that the details would not be disclosed even after the agreement was signed. We must, as always, pray for the Church in China and all the Catholics on the mainland.
 
We also beseech the Lord for His help. Let us trust you and do not abandon the Church which You built upon Peter the Rock. We also beseech you that the sacrifices made by all those who are persecuted for justice will bear abundant fruit through the Holy Spirit, including forgiveness and reconciliation. 
 
We pray that freedom of belief will be supported and respected in China. SE