Feb. 3: ST. ANSGAR (OSCAR).
Short bio and reading.
Born in Bremen, Germany, St. Ansgar or Oscar (801-865) became known as the “Apostle of the North” for his great evangelical work in Denmark and Sweden. He was Bishop of Hamburg and then of Bremen. Gregory IV appointed him as his delegate to Denmark and Sweden. In reply to those who questioned some miracles attributed to him he said, “Were God to choose me to do such things I would ask Him for one miracle only: that by his power he would make me a good man.”
We must boldly proclaim the mystery of Christ
From the decree on the missionary activity of the Church of the Second Vatican Council
Every disciple of Christ is responsible in his own measure for the spread of the faith, but Christ the Lord is always calling from among his followers those whom he wills, so that they may be with him and be sent by him to preach to the nations.
Through the Holy Spirit, who distributes gifts as he wills for the good of all, Christ implants in the hearts of individuals the vocation to be a missionary, and at the same time he raises up in the Church institutes which make their own the task of spreading the Gospel that belongs to the whole Church. A special vocation marks out those priests, religious and lay people who are prepared to undertake the missionary task in their own country or abroad, and have the right natural disposition for it, with suitable gifts and talents. Sent by lawful authority, they go out in obedience and faith to those who are far from Christ. They have been set apart for the task to which they have been called as ministers of the Gospel, to make the Gentiles an acceptable offering, sanctified in the Holy Spirit.
Those whom God calls must answer his call in such a way that, without regard for purely human counsel, they may devote themselves wholly to the work of the Gospel. This response cannot be given except with the inspiration and strength of the Holy Spirit.
The person who is sent enters into the life and mission of him who emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave. He must be ready therefore to be true to this vocation for life, to deny himself, renouncing all that he had before, and to become all things to all men. In preaching the Gospel to the nations he must boldly proclaim the mystery of Christ, whose ambassador he is, so that in Christ he may have the courage to speak as he ought, and not be ashamed of the scandal of the cross. He must follow in the footsteps of his Master, who was gentle and humble of heart, and reveal to others that his yoke is easy and his burden light.
By a life that is truly according to the Gospel, by much endurance, by forbearance, by kindness and sincere love, he must bear witness to his Lord, even, if need be, by the shedding of his blood. He will pray to God for strength and courage, so that he may come to see that for one who experiences great hardship and extreme poverty there can be abundant joy.
O God, who willed to send the Bishop Saint Ansgar to enlighten many peoples, grant us, through his intercession, that we may always walk in the light of your truth. Through our Lord.
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