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LATIN AMERICA
from issue no. 09 - 2003

CELAM. Reflections on the continent of hope

Evangelization is not a strategy


The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa explains what the new evangelization consists of: “It originates solely by radiating outwards, from person to person, family to family, community to community, from testimony of newness in life and an announcement full of hope from those who have encountered the Lord Jesus”.


by Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga


Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga received by the faithful of Santa Rosa de Copán, in Honduras

Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga received by the faithful of Santa Rosa de Copán, in Honduras

The Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) has both the pleasure and the pastoral interest in publishing this book which brings together the reflections on the spiritual exercises which Monsignor Mario Marini – Undersecretary of the Congregation for divine Worship and Sacramental discipline – set down in a first written copy from the course which he held, from 21 to 28 July 1996, in Puebla (Mexico) for the seminarian/novices of “Cruzados de Cristo Rey”, a young religious community of Mexican origin, already widespread in many countries.
One of the priorities of CELAM, in the totality of its overall program, has always been the active concern for spiritual formation, next to the human, cultural, biblical, theological and pastoral training of seminarians and novices, called to be witnesses and servants of the faith in our cities. The department of CELAM for Vocations and Ministeries (DEVYM) has, on different occasions, promoted meetings for directors of seminaries and novitiates, and for those respectively responsible for spiritual training, as a service to the Church of God in Latin America.

A new evangelization
In the face of the enormous challenge of a “new evangelization” – of which the Holy Father has underlined the necessity especially in Latin America (“new in its ardour, in its methods, and in its expression”) and to which he continues to urge the whole Church - one of the fundamental questions is that of basing it, animating it, and nourishing it from the starting point of holiness, which is “the secret spring and the infallible measure of its apostolic working and its missionary impetus” (cf. Christifideles laici 17). A “new evangelization”, of which Latin America has great need at the dawn of the third millenium, and which will certainly not be resolved by human projects and strategies. It has its origin solely in the radiating out, from person to person, from family to family, from community to community, of a witness to a newness in life and an announcement full of hope by those who have encountered the Lord Jesus, live his presence in the communion of his disciples and communicate it to all the places where they live. Latin America has need to make this testimony of the Christifideles shine forth. From all the baptized a radical refoundation of the christian experience is required, a renewed encounter and following of Jesus, a grateful and demanding consciousness of the vocation to sanctity as a passage of perfection in charity. How fundamental it is, for that growth of the people of God and for its evangelizing service, that there be ever more numerous and, above all, holy priests and religious!

“…. and rest a while”
Mexican Catholics during a pilgrimage 
in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mexican Catholics during a pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

And thus, in the tradition of the Church spiritual exercises have been appropriate instruments, through different modes, for this path of sanctification. They evoke that withdrawal of Jesus to the desert, before beginning his public life, to a solitude to which he was later to take his apostles along with himself. It is no accident that Monsignor Martini introduces the retreat by recalling what is narrated by the evangelist Mark (Mark 6,31 ff), when the Lord says to his apostles: «“Come aside in a lonely place, and rest a while”. For there was a large crowd coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went in the boat to a lonely place apart». «And then he got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the district of Dalmanutha» (cf Mark 8,10).
To take one’s distance from agitation and distraction, where others – things and people - become less intrusive, where the “heart” of man is entirely focused on the Mystery present, where both silence and word are concentrated in hearing God, where one contemplates and enjoys remaining in His presence and company, where the grace of conversion works strongly, was always considered, in the Church, to be fruitful teaching and spiritual experience. Is it not in the solitude of Manresa that, in 1522, Ignatius of Loyola wrote, in its fundamental passages, the Spiritual Exercises, which from then afterwards take on a more precise profile and more widespread importance in the Christian community? At present the spiritual exercises, in the variety of their forms, are always present on the “agenda” of the most varied institutions and communities of the Church in Latin America. The spiritual reflections gathered in this book, in the simplicity and spontaneity of their recording, with the biblical and theological, spiritual and pastoral knowledge which they express, can be a cause of inspiration and edification for many.

Friend of Mexico and of Latin America
In my role as president of CELAM I am personally happy to be able to publish these cordial spiritual conversations which introduce to the “glory of God” – the theme of these exercises – and coming from a friend of Mexico and Latin America. Monsignor Mario Marini, born in Cervia on September 13, 1936, with a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Bologna, called afterwards to the priesthood and, while studying in Rome at the time of the Council, formed friendships with quite a number of students from the Holy Latin American Pontifical College. Providence brought him to the north of Mexico, where he served for two years as a missionary: thus he remained “conquered” by a people, loved in a particular way by the presence and company of the Virgin of Guadalupe, evangelized by an extraordinary number of missionaries, faithful to a Catholic tradition tried by persecution and martyrdom, cradle of a flowering of many charismatic foundations ( such as that of the “Cruzados de Cristo Re” themselves). During his later service in the Secretariat of State, successively as office manager in the Congregation for the Clergy and presently as Undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacramental Discipline, Monsignor Marini always gave passionate attention and pastoral solicitude not only to his Church of adoption, but to all of the Latin American Church. He who is a good servant of the Pope is well aware of the fact that in a “continent of hope”, in which half the Catholics of the whole planet live, decisive questions for the existence of its people are in play – for their evangelization and human growth – and also indeed for all of the universal Church in the third Christian millennium which is beginning.



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