DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     August 16, 1999     vol. 10, no. 153


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          The Holy Father concluded the Synod of the Americas, begun in November 1997 and capped with his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America released at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in January this year on the Pope's visit to the Americas. It is the Sovereign Pontiff who has expressed a strong desire to see North, Central and South Americas to be considered "one continent" and he expresses the solidarity, communion and conversion of all nations in the Western Hemisphere in this summation of all that was discussed and decided on between Rome and the Bishops of America at the month-long synod late in 1997. We bring you, over several installments, the entire document since it is pertinent not only to the Bishops and clergy, but to the lay communicants of the Americas. To read the entire document at one time or for footnotes, go to Ecclesia in America. To the right is installment twenty-five of ECCLESIA IN AMERICA, the final one in this Apostolic Exhortation.

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America

      From Pope John Paul II to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious, and all the Lay Faithful on the encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: The Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America

Installment Twenty-five of ECCLESIA IN AMERICA: CONCLUSION

"I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28: 20

    75. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Trusting in this promise of the Lord, the pilgrim Church in America prepares enthusiastically to meet the challenges of today's world and those that will come in the future. In the Gospel, the Good News of the Resurrection of the Lord is accompanied by the invitation to fear not (cf. Mt 28:5, 10). The Church in America wishes to walk in hope, as the Synod Fathers declared: “With serene trust in the Lord of history, the Church prepares to cross the threshold of the Third Millennium freed from prejudice, hesitation, selfishness, fear or doubt, and convinced of the fundamental and primary service which she must provide as a testimony to her fidelity to God and to the men and women of the continent”. (290)

          Furthermore, the Church in America feels especially impelled to walk in faith, responding with gratitude to the love of Jesus, “the merciful love of God made flesh (cf. Jn 3:16)”. (291) The celebration of the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium can be the right moment for the People of God in America to renew “their thanks for the great gift of faith”, (292) which they first received five centuries ago. The year 1492, beyond its historical and political meaning, was the great year of grace when America welcomed the faith: a faith which proclaims the supreme gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God two thousand years ago, and which we will solemnly commemorate in the Great Jubilee now so close.

          This twofold sense of hope and gratitude must accompany every pastoral action of the Church on the continent, permeating with the spirit of the Jubilee the various initiatives in the dioceses, parishes, religious communities, ecclesial movements, and the activities which will be organized at both regional and continental levels. (293)

    Prayer to Jesus Christ for the families of America

    76. I therefore invite all the Catholics of America to take an active part in the evangelizing initiatives which the Holy Spirit is stirring in every part of this immense continent, so full of resources and hopes for the future. In a special way, I invite Catholic families to be “domestic Churches”, (294) in which the Christian faith is lived and passed on to the young as a treasure, and where all pray together. If they live up to the ideal which God places before them, Catholic homes will be true centers of evangelization.

          In concluding this Apostolic Exhortation, in which I have taken up the proposals of the Synod Fathers, I gladly welcome their suggestion to compose a prayer for the families of America. (295) I invite individuals, communities and ecclesial groups, wherever two or more gather in the Lord's name, to strengthen through prayer the spiritual bond between all American Catholics. Let everyone join in the prayer of the Successor of Peter, invoking Christ who is “the way of conversion, communion and solidarity in America”:

            We thank You, Lord Jesus, because the Gospel of the Father's love, with which You came to save the world, has been proclaimed far and wide in America as a gift of the Holy Spirit that fills us with gladness.

            We thank You for the gift of Your Life, which You have given us by loving us to the end: Your Life makes us children of God, brothers and sisters to each other. Increase, O Lord, our faith and our love for You, present in all the tabernacles of the continent.

            Grant us to be faithful witnesses to your Resurrection for the younger generation of Americans, so that, in knowing You, they may follow You and find in you their peace and joy. Only then will they know that they are brothers and sisters of all God's children scattered throughout the world.

            You Who, in becoming man, chose to belong to a human family, teach families the virtues which filled with light the family home of Nazareth.

            May families always be united, as You and the Father are one, and may they be living witnesses to love, justice and solidarity; make them schools of respect, forgiveness and mutual help, so that the world may believe; help them to be the source of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, and all the other forms of firm Christian commitment.

            Protect Your Church and the Successor of Peter, to whom You, Good Shepherd, have entrusted the task of feeding Your flock. Grant that the Church in America may flourish and grow richer in the fruits of holiness.

            Teach us to love Your Mother, Mary, as You loved her. Give us strength to proclaim Your word with courage in the work of the new evangelization, so that the world may know new hope. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, pray for us!

        Given at Mexico City, January 22, in the year 1999, the twenty-first of my Pontificate.

August 16, 1999       volume 10, no. 153


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