What is the Extraordinary Missionary Month?
In 2019, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV's Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, Pope Francis announced that October will be an Extraordinary Missionary Month.
For the Extraordinary Missionary Month, the Holy Father has chosen the theme ‘Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on a Mission in the World’. Awakening the awareness of the missio ad gentes, and reinvigorating the responsibility of proclaiming the Gospel with new enthusiasm, are themes that combine the pastoral concern of Pope Benedict XV in Maximum Illud with the missionary vitality expressed by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: "Missionary action is the paradigm of every work of the Church" (EG 15).
How to Live Your Own Extraordinary Missionary Month
There are four dimensions, specified by the Pope, to live more intensely the journey of preparation for the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019:
- A personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in His Church through the Eucharist, the Word of God, personal and communal prayer;
- Testimony: missionary saints, martyrs and confessors of the faith, as an expression of the Church scattered throughout the world;
- Missionary formation: biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological;
- Missionary charity.
Extraordinary Missionaries Doing Extraordinary Work
Pope Francis' Prayer for October 2019
when your only begotten Son Jesus Christ
rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to “go and make disciples of all nations”
and you remind us that through our Baptism
we are made sharers in the mission of the Church.
Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and zealous
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to the Church,
which is still very far from completion,
may find new and efficacious expressions
that bring life and light to the world.
Help us make it possible for all peoples
to experience the saving love
and mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever.
Maximum Illud – an extraordinary document
Maximum Illud was proclaimed by Pope Benedict XV on 30 November 1919. It takes its title from the opening words of the original Latin text, meaning "that momentous". Benedict begins by recalling "that momentous and holy charge" found in Mark 16:15: "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to all creation." Benedict wrote the apostolic letter because “there still remain in the world immense multitudes of people who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death”. [# 6] Its theological message, therefore, was not new. However, it was striking for its time. It came at the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars”. This war was so shocking that it undermined the confidence of many in Europe and the United States in religion and especially Christianity.
We're here to help
The Extraordinary Missionary Month is to be an opportunity for reflection, prayer and support for the missionary efforts of individuals, communities and whole Church. In the lead-up to October 2019, Catholic Mission will be here to help the Church in Australia, providing expertise, materials and support throughout Australia.
As the Pope’s official Mission aid agency of the Catholic Church in Australia, Catholic Mission helps Catholics in Australia to live out the call to live God’s mission in the world at Baptism as the Church of Christ on a Mission in the World.
The Holy Father’s expresses his care for all Churches through the prayer and solidarity Catholic Mission encourages. Thanks to your support, Catholic Mission can help Churches and local missionaries around the world reach out to their own communities with the love and compassion of Christ.
The General Secretariats of Pontifical Mission Societies and, in particular the Pontifical Missionary Union are developing resources and hosting ideas and initiatives of various countries at www.october2019.va.
Beyond October 2019
The Extraordinary Missionary Month is not an end in itself, but a means to revitalise, renew, and reawaken ongoing commitment to Missio Ad Gentes, to mission throughout the world. Catholic Mission will continue to play its part in encouraging and channelling this commitment to reach out and give life.
Look out for more updates, resources and information throughout the year, as we build towards EMM in October 2019. Coming soon: Socktober, song competition, discussion and reflection resource for individuals and adult groups, WMM Parish Resources, WMM School Resources... and much more.
“… to announce an extraordinary time of prayer and reflection”
“… a favourable time for prayer, the witness of many saints and martyrs of the mission, biblical and theological reflection, catechesis and missionary charity”
“… with the aim of fostering an increased awareness of the mission ad gentes and taking up again with renewed fervour the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity”
“… prove an intense and fruitful occasion of grace, and promote initiatives and above all prayer, the soul of all missionary activity. May it likewise advance the preaching of the Gospel, biblical and theological reflection on the Church’s mission, works of Christian charity, and practical works of cooperation and solidarity between Churches, so that missionary zeal may revive and never be wanting among us”