NINTH DAY: Evangelize in the Fire of Pentecost
God’s love kindles our souls to carry it to others. This is the whole Spirit of Pentecost: an Outpouring of the Spirit that must continue until the Coming of our only Lord and Master and Friend (L007).
Pierre Goursat summed up the vocation of the Emmanuel Community in these three words: adoration, compassion, and evangelization.
Adoration, the source of compassion, impels us to evangelize. Jesus, having made us perceive the suffering of His Heart, broken by sin and the indifference of men, asks us to announce to all, by whatever means He shows us, His desire that every man come back to Him (M21).
The desire to evangelize is born of the awareness that we must share the treasure of the faith we have received: “We cannot keep silent about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Pierre was convinced of this: We must proclaim God’s love to the world. This love is misunderstood and despised. We must proclaim it (E029). If he was animated by an ardent missionary zeal, it is because he allowed himself to be set ablaze by the burning fire of the Holy Spirit: Now that Pentecost has come, let us no longer look at our navel, but let us allow ourselves to be caught up in this fire of love. And above all, we must go towards our brothers (E009).
At Pentecost, which is the sending of the Church on mission, this promise of Christ is fulfilled: “You will receive power, the power of the Holy Spirit who will descend upon you. You will then be My witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Pentecost frees the Apostles from the fears that paralyzed them. They then began to evangelize with confidence, despite persecutions: “With great power, the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33).
In the face of the serious crisis that the Church was going through, Pierre Goursat never gave in to discouragement and resignation. And when he discovered the Charismatic Renewal, he saw in it the “new Pentecost” that John XXIII had invoked before the Second Vatican Council. For Pierre Goursat, the outpouring of the Spirit was a “personal Pentecost” that made him more aware of the urgency of the mission: For me, “the baptism in the Spirit” was the confirmation to launch myself belatedly into the midst of the world to proclaim it (L008).
Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we have received this Spirit of strength that impels us to witness and to proclaim the Good News to all:
We must proclaim the Lord because we have received a spirit of Pentecost, a spirit of power and boldness. If we stay warm and comfortably in our communities, we will rot in our communities (E008).
Pierre Goursat was strengthened in his missionary intuitions by the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, published in 1975. Paul VI recalled that evangelization is “the essential mission” of the Church and constitutes “her proper vocation”, her deepest “identity” (n. 14). Mission is not “an optional contribution” (n. 5) reserved to a few specialists, but a necessity which is incumbent on all the baptized: we are called to give an account of the hope which is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15). It is the salvation of souls that is at stake!
Pierre often quoted the words of the Apostle Paul: “To proclaim the Gospel is not a title of glory for me; it is a necessity that falls to me. Yes, woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel! “(1 Cor 9:16). The awareness of our incompetence should not serve as an alibi: The apostles did not wait until they were perfect to proclaim Jesus. He sends us to our brothers (E002).
The Holy Spirit is “the principal agent of evangelization” (Evangelii nuntiandi, n. 75) and “the protagonist of the mission” (Encyclical mission by John Paul II, n. 21). He guides us to the people to whom we should speak, He gives the right words to those who evangelize and acts in the hearts of their listeners.
The first beneficiary is the one who bears witness because “faith is strengthened when it is given! “(Redemptoris Missio, n. 2):
By loving Jesus in our brothers, we evangelize ourselves, because the Spirit is in us, and we are the first converts (E002).
Seeing people open themselves to God when we announce to them the hope of salvation brings us joy and transforms us :
By evangelizing others, it is you who come back evangelized. You have your heart opened, you see the suffering and hunger for the Lord that these people have in the streets, who know nothing. You have only one desire left, and that is to evangelize (E037).
Pierre Goursat developed “direct” evangelization in the street, at a time when it was not practiced by Catholics. To stimulate the members of the Emmanuel, he offered them the “evangelization booklet”, a simple and concrete means inspired by the Legion of Mary. Pierre also stressed the importance of witnessing in one’s usual environment :
Nowadays, it is more and more important to be able to proclaim Jesus. And to announce Jesus is not simply to go out into the street, but also in the workplace and everywhere (E014).
Pierre, who had followed with interest the beginnings of the Young Catholic Workers (YCW) founded by Cardinal Cardijn, encouraged the group “Renewal and the Working World” which brought together priest-workers and Christian trade unionists.
Pierre Goursat was a precursor and an important actor of the “new evangelization”. He saw the need to intensify missionary action, find suitable means and train lay evangelizers to deal with the cultural changes in society and to stem the process of secularisation. In this context of ignorance of the faith and religious indifference, Pierre created the John Paul II Centre and the Workers’ University, which offered courses and public lectures. He also founded the International School of Formation and Evangelization to welcome young people who wished to dedicate a year of their lives to God in view of the mission.
Pierre Goursat showed great missionary creativity and was always thinking about new projects. He launched the magazine “Il est Vivant!” and FidesCo, an organization for missionary cooperation, as well as various apostolic initiatives for young people, couples and families, the world of education and culture, ….
In the last months of his life, Pierre Goursat meditated at length on the encyclical on mission that John Paul II had published in December 1990. He rejoiced to find in it the various intuitions he had sought to implement. During one of the last councils of the Emmanuel Community, in which Pierre participated, he murmured exhausted: “The mission, the mission, the mission! “These words expressed what his life had been like all devoted to evangelization.
Lord Holy Spirit, I want to welcome you today to become a witness for my brothers
Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height,
Your pure beaming radiance give.
Come, You, Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure,
Come, You, light of all that lives.
You of all consolers best,
You the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.
You in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe,
Light immortal, light divine,
Visit now these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If You take your grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
On our dryness pour the new,
Wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.
You, on us who evermore,
You confess and you adore,
With your sev’nfold gifts descend.
Give us comfort when we die,
Give us life with You on high,
Give us joy that never ends