By Monica Yehle - The Priest, 10/1/2012
“Renewed energy to the mission of the whole Church.”
As he announced a Year of Faith to begin during this Mission Month of October, Pope Benedict XVI focused on its ultimate purpose. That “renewed energy,” he observed, would be directed “to lead men and women out of the desert . . . toward friendship with Christ who gives us fullness of life.”
The Year of Faith (Oct. 11, 2012, through Nov. 24, 2013) is equally a “worldwide moment of prayer,” observed Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In fact, the Pope has urged that Congregation — which coordinates the efforts of the Pontifical Mission Societies worldwide — to launch a “movement of prayer,” central to which will be the promotion of the World Mission Rosary. The Holy Father, the Cardinal said, has “embraced this initiative, which will lead to the nourishment of persons and conversion to God.”
Why is the World Mission Rosary different?
During his Feb. 11, 1951, radio program (The Catholic Hour), Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen — now “Venerable” (see “America Needs a Saint. . .”) and then national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith — inaugurated the World Mission Rosary. He saw the need to pray not just for ourselves, but for the whole world, and especially for those who are poor and vulnerable at home and across the globe. “The World Mission Rosary,” Cardinal Filoni said, “unites all people of the world in a spiritual communion.”
Each decade of that World Mission Rosary calls to mind an area where the Church continues her evangelizing mission: green for the forests and grasslands of Africa; blue for the ocean surrounding the islands of the Pacific; white symbolizing Europe, the seat of the Holy Father, shepherd of the world; red calling to mind the fire of faith that brought missionaries to the Americas, and yellow, the morning light of the East, for Asia.
Venerable Archbishop Sheen linked this Rosary to the missionary work of the Church and to the Holy Father. Praying this Rosary, he explained in that radio broadcast, would “aid the Holy Father and his Society for the Propagation of the Faith by supplying him with practical support, as well as prayers, for the poor mission territories of the world.”
The Pontifical Mission Societies — specifically the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Missionary Childhood Association — are seeking to distribute the World Mission Rosary on a large scale during the Year of Faith, especially among the children and youth of our country. “It is precisely this presence among our young Catholics where the work of encouraging missionary solidarity throughout the world is done in a way that recognizes and proclaims Jesus Christ as the world’s only hope and unique Savior,” explained Cardinal Filoni.
“Our solidarity cannot be fed by corporal acts of charity alone,” he continued. “They must be evangelizing in an explicit way that touches upon the very missionary nature of the Church herself. Good works without faith will fall short of their evangelizing potential.”
“It is good to pray through the intercession of Mary, offering every decade for the evangelization of every continent, each one with its own specific needs,” Pope Benedict XVI said upon receiving the Rosary and learning of the “Prayer Movement” centered on it.
“When the Rosary is completed, one has embraced all continents, all people, in prayer,” Venerable Archbishop Sheen observed in his 1951 radio broadcast, urging: “Won’t you please make a tour of the world on your World Mission Rosary?”
That question is asked again in this Year of Faith, as prayer accompanies the ever-urgent evangelizing mission of the Church. To learn more, please visit WorldMissionRosary.org. TP
MONICA YEHLE is Director of Development and Programs for the Pontifical Mission Socities in the United States, and is editor of MISSION magazine.
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