May 2019 Allocutio

We are called to be spirit-filled Evangelizers

Fr. Liam O Cuiv

In the year 1975, shortly before the feast of Pentecost, Pope Paul VI who was declared a saint by Pope Francis last October, addressed an Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete in Domino on the theme of Christian joy — Joy in the Holy Spirit.

(Joy was, incidentally, the theme of Fr. Bede McGregor’s most recent Allocutio to the Concilium in December of last year).

Referring to the need for joy in all human hearts, St. Paul VI pointed out that while today’s world could multiply opportunities for pleasure it had great difficulty generating joy. And he stated that this was because joy came from another source. It is spiritual. “The Virgin Mary has grasped, better than all other creatures”, he tells us, “that God accomplishes wonderful things: … she meditates on the least signs of God, pondering them in her heart… she stands, the mother of sorrows, at the foot of the cross, … But she is also open in an unlimited degree to the joy of the resurrection; and she is also taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven. She is the perfect model of the Church both on earth and in glory”. (IV)

All of this points out for us the need to be bearers of the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world where joy is so often absent.

Some months after his Apostolic Exhortation on Joy, Pope Paul issued his Post-Synodal Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. In it he speaks of the interior attitudes which must animate those who work for evangelization.

Firstly, he reminds us that “Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit.” He refers to the Spirit descending on Jesus at his baptism, and Jesus being “led by the Spirit” to experience in the desert the decisive combat and the supreme test before beginning this mission and returning “in the power of the Spirit” to Galilee to begin His preaching at Nazareth.

Even the events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection are in themselves not enough. Saint Paul VI reminds us: “It is only after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that the apostles depart to all the ends of the earth in order to begin the great work of the Church’s evangelization.” He then warns us: Techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit. The most perfect preparation of the evangelizer has no effect without the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the most convincing dialectic has no power over the heart of man. Without Him the most highly developed schemas resting on a sociological or psychological basis are quickly seen to be quite valueless. [75]

We are further reminded, “It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is He who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is He who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood” [idem]. These words are echoed in Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium (2013). As you may be aware the final chapter of this Apostolic Exhortation is entitled Spirit-Filled Evangelizers. Here we hear Pope Francis speak from his very heart: “How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervour, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts. A spirit-filled evangelization is one guided by the Holy Spirit, for he is the soul of the Church called to proclaim the Gospel. Before offering some spiritual motivations and suggestions, I once more invoke the Holy Spirit. I implore him to come and renew the Church, to stir and impel her to go forth boldly to evangelize all peoples”.

We began this meeting with the words of the handbook, “Mary has been so taken up into the Holy Spirit, made one with him, animated by him, that he is as her very soul… when she acts, it is also he who acts; and that if her intervention be not accepted, neither is his”.

If the Virgin Mary’s question to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation was “How can this be? The angel’s response to her was, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you”. And the same Holy Spirit is the answer to all our questioning also. Pope Francis teaches us, “With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit and thus made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost” (EG 284)

May we be supported by her prayers in praying for a new outpouring of the holy Spirit in our hearts that as members of her Legion we may be truly spirit-filled evangelisers.

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Cause of our Joy, pray for us.