Monday, October 5, 2020

An ecclesial act

The observation that the Church has been sent out and given a mandate to evangelize the world should awaken two convictions within us.

The first is this: evangelization is for no one an individual and isolated act; it is one that is deeply ecclesial. When the most unknown preacher, catechist or pastor in the most distant land preaches the Gospel, gathers his little community together or administers a sacrament, even alone, he is carrying out an ecclesial act, and his action is certainly attached to the evangelizing activity of the whole Church by institutional relationships, but also by invisible bonds and deep roots of the order of grace. This presupposes that he acts not in virtue of a mission which he attributes to himself or by a personal inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in her name.

From this flows the second conviction: if each individual evangelizes in the name of the Church, who herself does so by virtue of a mandate from the Lord, no evangelizer is the absolute master of his evangelizing action, with a discretionary power to carry it out in accordance with individualistic criteria and perspectives; he acts in communion with the Church and her pastors.

We have remarked that the Church is entirely and completely evangelizing. This means that, in the whole world and in each part of the world where she is present, the Church feels responsible for the task of spreading the Gospel.

(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI, No 60, December 8, 1975.)