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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Teaching a Living Faith
Fr Alvaro Corcuera’s letter to Holy Week missionaries focuses on teaching the faith—and being open to learn.

"We are going to evangelize, but we are also evangelized."

April 18, 2011. Evangelization missions present a unique opportunity to practice one of the spiritual works of mercy this Lent by teaching the faith. In a letter addressed to Holy Week missionaries around the world, Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, encourages the missionaries to teach the faith not just by passing on knowledge, but by being living witnesses of Christ—and by being open to learn from the people they evangelize.

An English translation is presented below and is available for download in PDF format


Thy Kingdom Come!



Rome, April 8, 2011

To the participants on Holy Week missions

Very dear friends in Christ:

A few days ago we recalled in a special way our beloved John Paul II, who ended his passage through this world six years ago. We are moved remembering the images of his last days. We are especially impressed by the photo in which we see him in his chapel, praying the Via Crucis, embracing the crucifix. It fills us with joy to know that his beatification will be celebrated in a few weeks!

We can say that he, like Christ, went about doing good, that he lived
New York City evangelizing
"One of the great challenges of the new evangelization is getting all Catholics to know our faith well."
loving and giving himself to others. He is an example of what it means to “be a missionary,” to live to fulfill the mission God entrusted to us. With his witness fresh in mind and heart, and now that you are preparing to participate in evangelization missions, I would like to send you these reflections on one more of the works of spiritual mercy. A year ago, we covered forgiveness, consolation, and patience. On this occasion, I propose another: instructing the ignorant.

One of the great challenges of the new evangelization is getting all Catholics to know our faith well. There is a great need for formation, catechesis, and reflection on the truths we believe so that they will not be something superficial, something we inherited without making them our own. We ourselves experience it, and that is why we constantly seek to gain a deeper knowledge. We know that we cannot love what we do not know. St. Paul asked in his letter to the Romans, “But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” (Rom 10:14). Those of us who have received more opportunities are called to share this treasure. The faith formation we have been given in our families, parish, school, and in the Movement is a talent that God gives us to put at the service of others.

Missions are a great opportunity to teach those who have not had so many opportunities. The catechesis that you will offer to people will be a blessing for them. And how much it moves us to see how they value it, because they are so eager to learn!  Thus, it is very important for
Medical missions with a personal touch
"God teaches us and gives us big lessons, especially through the witness of the people."
you to prepare with great enthusiasm.

This is surely a form of teaching that you will be able to put into practice, but there is another that is perhaps more important, since in the end, all truths, doctrines, and teachings are centered on Christ, and the final goal is not for people to know a few more things, but to be able to meet God and experience his great love. And this is not taught with words, but with witness. We know that the Lord wants to work miracles and authentic conversions through you in the people you will meet. When they see you full of love for God, living charity, giving yourselves without reservations, people will be learning the most important lesson of all: God loves us, he is with us, and he gives meaning to our lives.

The best missionaries and catechists have always been the saints. John Paul II said as much in one of his encyclicals: “People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, and in life and action than in theories” (John Paul II, Redemptoris missio, 42). If we want to catechize and carry out a mission that transforms men
Boys on missions in Hartwell
"The final goal is not for people to know a few more things, but to be able to meet God and experience his great love."
and women, we must be witnesses first, salt of the earth and light of the world. Einstein once said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything learned at school.” Thus, it is not enough to pass on some knowledge. Catechesis must lead to maturity in the faith, to an encounter with Christ.

In this sense, I believe that in the missions, we experience that we are setting out to teach, and surely we do so, but we also go to learn. God teaches us and gives us big lessons, especially through the witness of the people. Their simple faith, their piety and fervor, their abnegated generosity, their details of hospitality, and their patience in the face of suffering are things that remain imprinted on our hearts. They are messages that God gives us, inviting us perhaps to a change in our own lives. Thus, how important it is for us to go with an open heart, with a deep awareness that we also have much to learn. Above human wisdom is the wisdom of God. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor. 1:25).

We are setting out to give and teach, but it may be that we end up being the ones who receive more and who learn more. We are going to evangelize, but we are also evangelized. We are going to share the love of Christ, and our heart is also touched by this grace. Thus is the logic of God, the Gospel, the beatitudes, and the works of mercy. God takes nothing away and gives us everything, as Benedict XVI said at the beginning of his pontificate. When we give with joy, we are the first to benefit.

Holy Week offers us
Philippines, missions, extreme
Be not afraid!
the ideal setting for God to be able to touch the hearts of many souls and our own heart in these evangelization missions. I pray very much for you to be instruments of his grace. I am sure that, like the first disciples, you will come back happy, telling the wonders that God did through you, and also contemplating the work of God in your own souls. Thank you very much for your witness and generosity in joining in on this work of evangelization! Christ chose to need you, and he will be pleased with your presence.

Yours affectionately in Christ and the Movement,

Fr Álvaro Corcuera, LC



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