“The Church is missionary by nature”. Church teaching illustrates this paradigm: starting with Maximum Illud by Pope Benedict XV; then the Council decree Ad Gentes; confirming it with the Evangelii Nutiandi by Pope Paul VI and Redemptoris Missio by Pope John Paul II. Moreover Pope Francis in his Evangelii Gaudium, at number 27 says “I dream of a “missionary option”, that is a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything”: with these words Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples this morning at the Vatican Press Room presented ‘October 2019, an Extraordinary Mission Month” as announced by Pope Francis at the Angelus prayer on 22 October 2017, “to nourish the Church’s evangelising activity ad gentes”.

The occasion stems from the centenary, 30 November 2019, of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud with which Pope Benedict XV gave new impulse to the missionary responsibility of all the baptised to announce the Gospel, a duty of the whole Church not only of religious men and women, and he stressed that at the centre of missionary commitment there must be always and only the Gospel and its announcement, free of any cultural or economic aspect.

The theme of the MMS is “Baptised and Sent: the Church of Christ and mission in the world”, therefore mission understood as a call to faith, as proposed by God to mankind. Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso explained: “We cannot decline mission solely as a proposal of faith which stems from God who comes to us through his Son Jesus Christ, entrusting himself to human freedom. God does not impose he proposes,”. To speak today of Christians “baptised and sent” means that “every single baptised Christian can be a missionary, a channel of the proposal that God offers mankind, through personal testimony, prayer and offerings”, the Archbishop said.

“The content of mission– the President dell PMS explained – is sharing the News that Christ saves mankind. The missionary dimension is inherent to Baptism. Mission today consists not only of the traditional North-South movement, with missionaries sent to distant lands. Today, in the present of our life, in our Western countries to bear witness to the Gospel in our own personal walks in life, is to be missionaries”.

Various initiatives have been launched by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People and the Pontifical Mission Societies to publicise the MMS, Extraordinary Mission Month scheduled for October 2019, announced by Pope Francis: first of all the www.october2019.va website which intends “to promote and animate MMS, so as to contribute with its multimedia contents, to inspire all Christians to pray and reflect on missio ad gentes”, said Fr Fabrizio Meroni, Secretary General of the Pontifical Mission Union, director of CIAM (International Centre for Missionary Animation) and Fides.

The web site has several sections, first of all the Magisterium and Pontifical Mission Societies concerning the subject. Other sections include “Witnesses”, with the lives of Blessed, Saints and Martyrs of yesterday and today; “Formation”, with texts for mission animation; “Voices from the World Mondo” focussing on testimony from missionaries and PMS officials in different parts of the world.

Also available on the MMS web site a special “Guide” on the theme “Baptised and Sent: the Church of Christ on mission to the world”. The text, produced at the initiative of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People and the Pontifical Mission Societies, a collection of contributions from many different countries, is addressed to the Christians of the world. The intention is to provide dioceses material necessary for missionary formation and animation, inspiring the creativity of our local Churches which face the challenges inherent to evangelisation starting with missio ad gentes and in the local context. The sections which make up the Guide correspond to the spiritual dimensions indicated to us by the Holy Father when he convoked the Extraordinary Mission Month: a personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in the Church, the testimony of missionary saints and martyrs, catechetical formation for mission and missionary charity.

The text will be available in English, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. On the web site at present there is only the Italian version of the Guide PDF, the other four languages will be put on the web by the end of the end 2018, by February 2019 the paper version should be ready .

The MMS logo, the Mission Cross with colours for all five continents, is a bright and colourful sign of Christ’s victory resurrection. The earth is transparent because the work of evangelisation knows so barriers or borders: it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The words Baptised and Sent which accompany the image indicate two elements characteristic of every Christian: baptism and sharing the good news.

Also visible on the website, a video about the MMS, illustrating the meaning of mission today, a journey across the continents: Asia, Sri Lanka; America, Ecuador; Holy Land; America, Mexico and USA; Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda; Oceania, Australia; Asia, Japan. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 30/11/2018)