The Way of St. Vincent Is Our Way. 40. Responsible for a common mission

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoCharismLeave a Comment

Author: Miguel Pérez Flores, C.M. & Antonino Orcajo, C.M. · Translator: Charles T. Plock, C.M.. · Year of first publication: 1986.
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By the grace God gave me, I succeeded as an architect and laid the foundations on which someone else is doing the building. Everyone doing the building must work carefully. For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 3:10-11

This characteristic is to be kept in mind in this work of evangelization which the Congregation proposes to carry out: … genuine community spirit in all our apostolic works, so that we may be supported by one another in our common vocation. Constitutions, 12, 4

The individual members of the Congregation do not, by themselves, take on an apostolic work; rather it is the Congregation, as a whole, who accepts the task of evangelization and the responsibility for carrying on this work. Since the foundation of the Company, this has been a fundamental principle. From this perspective, the missionaries should make themselves available to work where obedience sends them to labor and to carry on those works which have been entrusted to the Community.

1. We Live as Servants of the Gospel

When Saint Chantal wrote Saint Vincent, and asked him for information about the Congregation of the Mission, Vincent clearly explained the ideals which ought to guide the missionaries in their work and in their relationships with the bishop in whose diocese they were working:

In our relationships with the bishops, we live as servants of the Gospel. So when the bishop says: ‘Go there,’ we go. ‘Come here,’ we come. ‘Do this,’ we do it. We conduct ourselves in this way because we have submitted ourselves to them. The Superior General, however, is responsible for the internal discipline of the Congregation1.

On many other occasions, Vincent restated this same idea, and emphasized that total availability is to characterize the missionary when he preaches the Word of God as a servant of the One who sent him:

Continue to explain to the bishop that you are unable to go where he wishes to send you. At the same time, however, be available to do what he asks of you. Perhaps you ought to come to some kind of agreement among yourselves and nominate someone to present your situation to the bishop2.

2. Evangelization Is Never an Individual, Isolated Action; Rather it Is Profoundly Ecclesial

However, what Paul VI said about the Church and about those involved in the process of evangelization is also applicable to the members of our local communities and to each province:

The observation that the Church has been sent out and given a mandate to evangelize the world should awaken in us two convictions. The first is this: evangelization is, for no one, an individual and isolated act; it is one that is deeply ecclesial. When the most obscure preachers, catechists or pastors in the most distant land preach the Gospel, gather their little community together or administer the sacraments, even alone, they are carrying out an ecclesial act, and their actions are certainly attached to the evangelizing activity of the whole Church by institutional relationships, as well as by profound invisible links in the order of grace. This presupposes that they act not in virtue of a mission which they attribute to themselves or to some personal inspiration, but act in union with the Mission of the Church and in her name3.

3. Evangelizers Are Not the Absolute Masters of Their Evangelizing Action

From this flows the second conviction: if anyone evangelizes in the name of the Church, who herself does so by virtue of a mandate from the Lord, then evangelizers are not the absolute masters of their evangelizing action, with discretionary power to carry it out according to some personal criteria and perspectives; they act in communion with the Church and her pastors. We have remarked that the Church is entirely and completely evangelizing. This means that, in the whole world and in each part of the world where she is present, the Church feels responsible for the task of spreading the Gospel4.

  • Do I take on apostolic works without the approval and support of the Community?
  • When other members of the Company work in a mission that the Community has established and taken on, do I support them?
  • Do I stand by the members of the Community and support them in our common missionary vocation?


God our Father, may your Church always be a holy people, united, as you are, with the Son and the Holy Spirit. May it be for all the world a sign of your unity and holiness, as it grows to perfection in your love. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen5.

  1. O.C., i, 550.
  2. Letter to Luis Rivet, March 11, 1657, O.C., vi, 244.
  3. Evangelii Nuntiandi, December 8, 1975, 60.
  4. Ibid., 60.
  5. Votive Mass for the Church.

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