At and after Pentecost
Dear Friends in Jesus,

At Pentecost and after the Pentecost, the great movement of evangelization of peoples began in a miraculous way because the timid disciples of Jesus became daring preachers of salvation through the crucified but risen Lord whom they themselves had seen.  But the disciples of Jesus not only preached the Good News of Jesus as the risen Lord but they prayed for help and strength from God.. “They all gave themselves to constant prayer with one mind, together with some women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers.” (Acts 1/14) As a consequence, it is written that the Holy Spirit came down on Our Lady and the Apostles while they were in prayer.  And  filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to proclaim the Risen Christ as the Messiah of Jewish expectation, boldly. “And suddenly from heaven came a sound like a strong rushing wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared tongues as of fire which parted and came to rest upon each one of them. All were filled with Holy Spirit and spoke different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2/2-4) After the Pentecost, the preaching of the Gospel and the formation of the various Christian communities began with great enthusiasm and zeal. All these communities had a point of departure. And that was prayer. The early Christian communities came together to pray. Their fellowship was a prayer-fellowship. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Act 2/42) And when they prayed the Holy Spirit came on them and filled with spirit they listened to the Apostles’ message and large number of those who attended these prayer-fellowship and preaching of the Apostles joined into the community of believers. Christian community from the very beginning is a worshipping community, which asked God to spread the Good News of His salvation. What does this mean? It means that the primary concern of the Church must be to be a Church of prayer, a worshipping community. The existence of the Church is first and foremost for the worship of the only true God. If that is the case, those who are called out to be evangelizers in our time also must be people who really pray for the glory of God and for the evangelization of the world. Let’s make the  “Acts of the Apostles” as the model for our evangelical ministry.

There is an often asked question – why does India not have a sizable number of Christians even when it has had the privilege of receiving the faith from one of the Apostles of the Lord himself? Even when we have had the privilege of zealous missionaries like St. Francis Xavier, St. John de Britto, Robert de Nobili and many others as missionaries in our midst, why so many people are ignorant of Christ in India today? The answer may be that the spirit of prayer, imploring God’s help, has not taken a predominant place in us for the salvation of our people. Hence, we must become praying missionaries. Prayer must precede all our good works and we must depend more on the Holy Spirit for the evangelization of India, than on our good works and even preaching.

Coming to our own specific evangelical ministry of Catholic Enquiry Centres, I have come to realize that it is the Holy Spirit who inspires our enquires to look for our Centres and to contact us.  Therefore every enquirer is a God-sent seeker and we must respect him or her and thank God for them. The same could be said about people who come to our charismatic retreat centres and pilgrim shrines. They are those “who are not against us; and therefore with us”. They are faith-seekers, led by the Holy Spirit.

Hence my request to all of you in the Catholic Enquiry Centre ministry is to make it a point that we pray for the Evangelization of India. I am glad to note that a few of our CECs have also composed common prayers for the success of their ministry. Therefore, as evangelizing disciples of Jesus, let us pray for all our enquirers and for the evangelization of our country, as the Apostles and the first disciples did. Let this be our constant prayer: May God fill us with His Spirit, that we may proclaim His Word everywhere. Let the Spirit of Pentecost abide in you always to share the Good News.

May your mission and ministry be filled with prayer and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Varghese N. SVD
(Secretary & Executive Secretary, ACECI),
New Delhi, 15th May, 2013

Please pray and encourage others to pray  for the Evangelization of India
A Sample Prayer :
A Prayer for the Evangelization of India
Almighty Eternal God, we adore and thank you for sending your Son and your Spirit for the salvation and sanctification of the whole human race. Make us all worthy to be called as your children and help us to live with one another as your children.

Father, we thank you especially for your offer of salvation through your Son to our country through St. Thomas the Apostle and many great missionaries like St. Francis Xavier. Even then millions of our country grope in ignorance of and unbelief in your son and fail to acknowledge you as the one and only true God. Send your Holy Spirit into the hearts and minds of our people, so that they may be drawn to your Son and recognize and accept him as their Lord and Saviour. Give them the grace to accept each other as brothers and sisters without any discrimination and prejudice, so that we may accept each other as your children.

Father, fill your Church in India with your Holy Spirit, so that all those who believe may be true witnesses to your Son, and are eager to share the Good News of your saving and caring love. Fill all our Missionaries with eagerness and courage to reach out to all our people and share the message of your love and salvation with everyone. Mary, queen of Apostles, pray for the salvation of our country. St. Thomas, St. Francis Xavier and Missionary martyrs of India pray for the salvation of all of us.  We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. [Amen]

(prepared by ACECI National Office, N. Delhi)