By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
In his video message for his prayer intention for August, Pope Francis reminds the faithful that “the vocation of the Church is evangelization,” and even more, “the Church’s identity is evangelization.”
In this month, the Holy Father reflects on the situation of the Church, its vocation and its identity, and calls us to renew it “by discerning God’s will in our daily life,” and “embarking on a transformation guided by the Holy Spirit.”
“Our own reform as persons is that transformation,” the Pope said. This allows the “Holy Spirit, the gift of God in our hearts, to remind us what Jesus taught and helps us to put into practice.”
Evangelization and a more missionary option
Pope Francis begins with the specific vocation of the Church, which is to evangelize. The Holy Father dreams of an even more missionary option: "one that goes out to meet others without proselytism and transforms its structures for the evangelization of today’s world.”
He emphasizes that he is not talking about proselytism but rather a reform of the Church through “a reform of ourselves, without prefabricated ideas, without ideological prejudices and rigidity.”
To make progress in this regard, Pope Francis invites all to move forward based on spiritual experience: “an experience of prayer, an experience of charity and an experience of service.”
Reforming the Church
“Let us remember that the Church always has difficulties,” the Pope said, explaining that the Church goes through crises because she is alive; not like the dead who do not go through crises.
In a statement accompanying the Pope’s prayer intention, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, which prepares “The Pope Video” each month, explains that in the recent letter Pope Francis wrote to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in which he refused his offer of resignation, the Holy Father acknowledged the crisis in the Church brought about by abuse cases, emphasizing the need for reform.
“A reform... does not consist in words but in attitudes that have the courage to face the crisis, to assume reality whatever the consequences may be. And every reform begins with oneself. The reform in the Church was made by men and women who were not afraid to enter into crisis and let themselves be reformed by the Lord,” the Pope said.
Concluding the video message, the Holy Father invited all to pray for the Church, “that she may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel.”