The Heralds of the Gospel is an International Association of Christ’s Faithful of Pontifical Right, the first to be erected by the Holy See in the third millennium, on the occasion of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22, 2001.
Made up mainly of young people, this Association is present in 80 countries. Its consecrated members practice celibacy, dedicating themselves wholly to apostolate, living in houses destined specifically for young men and women. Their daily life alternates between recollection, study, and prayer, along with evangelizing activities in dioceses and parishes, with special emphasis given to the formation of youth.
Although they do not profess vows and while remaining in the lay state — with the exception of some who have embarked on the priesthood — the Heralds of the Gospel seek to practice the evangelical counsels, in all their fascinating purity.
It is their practice to live in community (masculine or feminine), in a setting of fraternal charity and discipline. Their houses foster a deep life of prayer and study, in accordance with the wise directive of Saint John Paul II:
“The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission.” (Christifidelis Laici, 58).
The founder of the Heralds of the Gospel is Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias.
The “Companions” form another category of members, who “while identifying with the spirit of the Association—as laid out in its statutes—are unable to commit fully to its objectives due to their priestly commitments, or because of belonging to some institute of consecrated life or society of apostolic life, or due to their matrimonial or professional duties. ”
Therefore, as married or single lay people living in the world, priests, deacons, religious, lay people of consecrated life or members of other associations or ecclesiastical movements, the Companions of the Heralds of the Gospel, besides observing the precepts and duties proper to their state in life, make an effort to live in conformity with the charism and spirituality of the Association, dedicating their free time to it and committing themselves to fulfill certain obligations.
The opening articles of its Statutes outlines the vocation of the Heralds of the Gospel: This Association […] was born with the aim of being an instrument of sanctity in the Church, helping its members respond generously to the call of the fullness of Christian life and the perfection of charity, aiding and fostering an intimate unity between practical life and faith. […].
Furthermore, the Association aims at conscious and responsible active participation of its members in the salvific mission of the Church through apostolate, to which there are destined by the Lord, in virtue of Baptism and Confirmation. In this way, they should act in favor of evangelization, sanctification, and the Christian advancement of temporal realities.
The spirituality of the Heralds of the Gospel is anchored on three essential points: the Eucharist, Mary, and the Pope as defined in its statutes.
“The spirituality has as its mainstay, adoration of the Eucharistic Jesus—of inestimable value in the life of the Church, to build it up as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, body and spouse of Christ. (EE 25, 61); filial Marian piety, imitating the ever Virgin Mary, and learning to contemplate the face of Jesus in her (NMI 59), and devotion to the Papacy, visible foundation of unity of faith. (LG 18).”
These points are vibrantly represented in the emblem distinguishing the Association.
Its charism leads it to seek to act with perfection in search of pulchritude in all the acts of daily life, even while in private, and is expressed in the sublime commandment of Jesus Christ: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).
For the Herald of the Gospel, this calling to perfection should not remain restricted to interior acts, but should be exteriorized in all activities, in order to better reflect God. This is to say that the Heralds should clothe all of his daily actions in ceremonial, both in the intimacy of private life and in public; in works of evangelization, in interacting with his brethren, in participation in the Liturgy, in musical and theatrical presentations, and in all other circumstances.
This search for perfection signifies not only embracing and practicing virtue, but also doing so with pulchritude, with beauty, which can be an important element to sanctification.
With good reason, Paul VI emphasized this important teaching of the Second Vatican Council in his Message to Artists:
“This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration!”
Evangelization through culture and art
Seeing culture and art as efficacious instruments of evangelization, the Heralds execute a broad range of vocal and instrumental music.
They have formed numerous choirs, orchestras and musical ensembles, to bring their message of faith and hope to contemporary society.
The important role of art has been recently emphasized by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI—himself a great appreciator of music—on various occasions, as, for example, in his closing words during the concert offered by the President of the Italian Republic, on the occasion of the third anniversary of the pontificate, 24/04/2008.
“There is a mysterious and deep kinship between music and hope, between song and eternal life: not for nothing does the Christian tradition portray the Blessed in the act of singing in a choir, in ecstasy and enraptured by the beauty of God. But authentic art, like prayer, is not foreign to everyday reality although it requires us to “water” it and make it germinate if it is to bring forth the fruit of goodness and peace.”