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Braindel Rene S.

Cabañog 17 September 2019


4th Year- SThB Missiology

THE PRE-VATICAN II AND VATICAN II DOCUMENTS ON MISSION

The four letters (one Apostolic Letter and three Encyclicals) prior to Ad Gentes
helped me to understand better the development of the missionary activity of the Church.
There may be some differences between the pre-Vatican II documents with the Ad Gentes,
nevertheless, one common thing between these two kinds of documents is that of the
importance of continuing mission of the Church to bring people back to God.

To my surprise, the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud has the same number of
paragraphs/articles with that if Ad Gentes (42)! Among the unique discussions I found in
the letter of Benedict XV is that missionary zeal must extend to all parts and those natives
in the land, foreign missionaries must forget the country of their origin, and the
missionaries’ need to the master the local languages.1 One thing that I saw unique in Rerum
Ecclesiae is the role of local religious congregations and how it should collaborate with the
dioceses in terms of doing the mission. I admire how Pius XI opened up the topic on
establishing indigenous religious communities for men and women.2 I find this as a way of
“owning” or putting one’s heart into the mission. In this way, religious men and women
have a way of living out their religious life that is according to the culture of a certain area,
which I find the Church “friendly.” In the Encyclical Letter Evangelii Praecones, what
strikes me is how the Church would tap the laity to help in the missions.3 Finally in
Princeps Pastorum, although the encyclical is somehow a gathering of thoughts from the
three previous letters, one thing that was explicitly mentioned by John XXIII is that of
integrating Missiology in the seminary formation,4 for the Church, according to Ad Gentes,
is missionary by nature.

In Ad Gentes, the Church would tell us that the missionary activity is, “nothing else
and nothing less than an epiphany.”5 In the proclamation of the Word and the celebration
of the Sacraments, we encounter Christ, “the author of salvation.” We, as people of God
are called to share in the mission of Christ – that is to bring people back to God.

To end, I would like to share my thoughts as I was reading Ad Gentes. Paragraph


41 of this decree says that “Laymen cooperate in the Church’s work of evangelization; as
witnesses and at the same time as living instruments, they share in her mission.” In the
parish, pastors work closely with the lay leaders through the Parish Pastoral Council. I saw
the importance of witnessing not only on the part of the pastor, but also on the part of the
lay leaders. I see that these two must complement each other in journeying together towards
the goal of bringing people, or maybe first and foremost ourselves, back to God.

1
Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud (MI) (30 November 1919), no. 18, 24.
2
Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Rerum Ecclesiae (RE) (28 February 1926), no. 27.
3
Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Evangelii Praecones (EP) (2 June 1951), nos. 30, 54.
4
John XXIII, Enclyclical Letter Princeps Pastorum (PP) (28 November 1959), no. 18.
5
Vatican II, Decree Ad Gentes (AG) (7 December 1965), no. 9.