Redemptoris Missio Ahead

The encyclical Redemptoris Missio was composed in 1990. You can find it online here Pope John Paul II timed its release to be the silver anniversary of the decree Ad Gentes. That document was designated at Vatican II to outline the state and future of the Church’s evangelization.

Pope Benedict XVI touched on the topic somewhat in his “Year of Faith” document. But there is a clear line from Vatican II, through Pope Paul’s Evangelii Nuntiandi to Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium. It remains a vital topic today. In my opinion evangelization is the issue facing the Church today. Most Catholics don’t seem to get that. We dance around the margins with stewardship, apologetics, and faith formation. We dance at the peril of our future.

John Paul II certainly didn’t neglect the topic. He certainly placed a high value, not only in this document, but by his example of globetrotting to promote the faith. Thanks to him, we have the notion of “new evangelization.” That might be an unfortunate phrasing. The Church, at least in orthodoxy, never ceases the mission entrusted to us by the Lord.

The subtitle of Redemptoris Missio is “On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate.” However we word it–missionary activity, evangelization, RCIA, or expanding the flock–we will never lose this mandate of the Lord. Does it make an impact on your thinking to know that never before in human history have there been more people who do not know Jesus? Tomorrow won’t be any different. The question for the Church today is simple: will we be able to change that tune by the twenty-second century?

I think you can expect daily posts for the thirty-thousand-plus words in Redemptoris Missio. It should take us well into the late summer.

Here’s an outline of chapters and topics:

Introduction (1-3)

Chapter I: Jesus Christ, the Only Savior (4-11)

  • No one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6) (5-6)
  • Faith in Christ Is Directed to Man’s Freedom (7-8)
  • The Church As Sign and Instrument of Salvation (9)
  • Salvation in Christ Is Offered to All (10)
  • “We cannot but speak” (Acts 4:20) (11)

Chapter II: The Kingdom of God (12-20)

  • Christ Makes the Kingdom Present (13)
  • Characteristics of the Kingdom and Its Demands (14-15)
  • In the Risen Christ God’s Kingdom Is Fulfilled and Proclaimed (16)
  • The Kingdom in Relation to Christ and the Church (17-19)
  • The Church at the Service of the Kingdom (20)

Chapter III: The Holy Spirit, the Principal Agent of Mission (21-30)

  • Sent Forth “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) (22-23)
  • The Spirit Directs the Church’s Mission (24-25)
  • The Holy Spirit Makes the Whole Church Missionary (26-27)
  • The Spirit Is Present and Active in Every Time and Place (28-29)
  • Missionary Activity Is Only Beginning (30)

Chapter IV: The Vast Horizons of the Mission Ad Gentes (31-40)

  • A Complex and Ever-Changing Religious Picture (32)
  • Mission Ad Gentes Retains Its Value (33-34)
  • To All Peoples, In Spite of Difficulties (35-36)
  • Parameters of the Church’s Mission Ad Gentes (37-38)
  • Fidelity to Christ and the Promotion of Human Freedom (39)
  • Directing Attention Toward the South and the East (40)

Chapter V: The Paths of Mission (41-60)

  • The First Form of Evangelization Is Witness (42-43)
  • The Initial Proclamation of Christ the Savior (44-45)
  • Conversion and Baptism (46-47)
  • Forming Local Churches (48-50)
  • “Ecclesial Basic Communities” As a Force for Evangelization (51)
  • Incarnating the Gospel in Peoples’ Culture (52-54)
  • Dialogue with Our Brothers and Sisters of Other Religions (55-57)
  • Promoting Development by Forming Consciences (58-59)
  • Charity: Source and Criterion of Mission (60)

Chapter VI: Leaders and Workers in the Missionary Apostolate (61-76)

  • Those Primarily Responsible for Missionary Activity (63-64)
  • Missionaries and Religious Institutes Ad Gentes (65-66)
  • Diocesan Priests for the Universal Mission (67-68)
  • The Missionary Fruitfulness of Consecrated Life (69-70)
  • All the Laity Are Missionaries by baptism (71-72)
  • The Work of Catechists and the Variety of Ministries (73-74)
  • The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Other Structures for Missionary Activity (75-76)

Chapter VII: Cooperation in Missionary Activity (77-86)

  • Prayer and Sacrifice for Missionaries (78)
  • Here I am, Lord! I am ready! Send me!” (cf. Is 6:8) (79-80)
  • It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) (81)
  • New Forms of Missionary Cooperation (82)
  • Missionary Promotion and Formation Among the People of God (83)
  • The Primary Responsibility of the Pontifical Mission Societies (84)
  • Not Only Giving to the Missions But Receiving From Them As Well (85)
  • God Is Preparing a New Springtime for the Gospel (86)

Chapter VIII: Missionary Spirituality (87-91)

  • Being Led by the Spirit (87)
  • Living the Mystery of Christ, “the One who was sent” (88)
  • Loving the Church and Humanity As Jesus Did (89)
  • The True Missionary Is the Saint (90-91)

Conclusion (92)


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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