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Soul of the Apostole

The following excerpts are  from Divine Intimacy by Fr. Garbriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD and offer encouragement and guidance on how to be a fruitful apostle.

 Every type of apostolate is a collaboration in the one work of redemption and sanctification which God has been developing through the centuries. As St. Paul teaches, we do nothing but lend God our activity. (1Cor 3,6.7) p. 959

…the activity of the apostle is necessary, but not sufficient; only God can give the increase. As only God can cause the sun to shine or send the rain to make the fields fruitful, so God alone can give the grace to make the field of the apostolate fructify. p.960

Section 317

According to the measure in which the love of God takes possession of our heart, it creates and nourishes in us an ever increasing love for our neighbor; this love, being supernatural, seeks only the supernatural good of our fellow men and thus become zeal for the salvation of souls.

 p. 954

  Zeal for souls finds its source in charity and in the contemplation of Christ crucified. His wounds, His Blood, the excruciating sufferings of His agony, all tell us how much God values souls and how dearly He loves them.

Devoting ourselves to the spiritual life does not mean shutting ourselves up in an ivory tower to enjoy God’s consolations undisturbed with no concern for the welfare of others. It means concentrating all our powers on seeking God, working for our own sanctification in order to please God, and thus acquiring a power of action an impetration capable of obtaining the salvation of many souls.

 Section 318, p. 956

O Jesus, You who have accepted me as a member of Your Mystical Body, grant that I may not be in it as a stranger, but that I may work for the good of all my brethren.

“If a thorn,” says St. John Chrysostom, “gets into the soul of the foot, the whole body feels it and is solicitous for it: the back bends, the hands reach down to draw it out, the head is lowered, and the eyes watch very carefully and anxiously.” As the back, the hands, the head, and the eyes do not disregard the good of the foot, nor say, ‘What is this to me’ but each, in its own way, hastens to help the suffering member so no Christian can be  unconcerned about his brother, but is obliged, according to his ability, to work for the good of his neighbor’s soul; and this by reason of his Baptism, which constitutes him a member of the Mystical Body, making him one with the other members, so that the good of others is his good, the suffering of others is his suffering.

p.957, from Mystici Corporis

“ Not only the sacred ministers and those who have consecrated themselves to God in the religious life, but also all the other members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ have the obligation of working hard and constantly for the upbuliding and increase of this Body.”

Jesus wills to make use of His members, that is, all Christians, to continue His redemptive work in the world.

p. 958 

 To be apostles means to lend Christ our talents and activity, so that He may continue to redeem and sanctify souls through us. 

Section 319

 p. 959

  Every type of apostolate is a collaboration in the one work of redemption and sanctification which God has been developing through the centuries. As St. Paul teaches, we do nothing but lend God our activity. (1Cor 3,6.7)

…the activity of the apostle is necessary, but not sufficient; only God can give the increase. As only God can cause the sun to shine or send the rain to make the fields fruitful, so God alone can give the grace to make the field of the apostolate fructify.

p.960  

If the apostle is God’s instrument, he is not, however, a material one such as a pen in a writer’s hand. He is a living, personal instrument endowed with intellect and will; therefore he should put these powers at the service of the divine Artist, trying to harmonize, or better, to synchronize his way of thinking, willing and acting with the divine way, that is to say, with the divine order and will. Each one of us will be an apostle in the measure in which we are docile instruments in God’s hands, ready to be used as He wishes.

Like the work of personal sanctification, so also the work of the sanctification of others, that is, the apostolate, can be reduced to a matter of docility, of openness to grace and to God’s will; in other words, to death to self and to everything in one’s thought’s, will, and actions that might be even slightly  contrary to God’s thoughts, will, and actions.

Section 320 One with the Mind of Christ

p. 962

The apostle must thoroughly understand that God’s action on souls is entirely the action of love: it is the action of the Father who goes in search of the prodigal son, of the shepherd who seeks that sheep that has gone astray; it is the action of a God who offers His friendship to men to make them happy, to be able to welcome them into His Home, to admit them to His intimacy, to make them blessed with His eternal beatitude. An apostle should try to put his own heart into contact with the Heart of God, that it may be filled with God’s love and share in His charity toward men. The apostle should, as it were, have the mind of God, the mind of Christ, that is, he should cultivate deep sentiments of love for the brethren, a pale reflection of the love of God for men.

p.963

Not only at prayer, but in the very exercise of the apostolate, the apostle should strive to keep in contact with God nd with the mystery of His love for me, in which he should humbly collaborate. 

Section 321

p. 965

It follows therefore, that the more a soul cultivates the interior life, the nearer it will come to God, and having become like Him by grace and love, will be able to live in intimacy with Him, enjoy His friendship, penetrate His mysteries and participate in them.

 A deeper friendship is required, one which creates such uniformity of will, desirem, and affection that the apostle is enabled to act according to God’s Heart; he is moved not by his own impulses, but by the impulse of grace, by God’s will, and the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. It is a very significant fact that Jesus made His apostles live for three years in intimacy with Him, treating them like dear friends, before sending them out bo convert the world….

P966

Only if we are friends of God can we be apostles; God himself invites us to this friendship, but we must correspond by living an intense interior life, one which makes our reflections with God ever more intimate and richer in love.

The interior life is a secret hearth, where a soul in contact with God is inflamed with His love, and precisely because it is inflamed and forged by love, it becomes a docile instrument which God can use to diffuse love into the hearts of others.

p. 967

When a soul has been captivated by the odor of Your perfumes, she cannot run alone: as a natural consequence of her attachment toward You, all those whom she loves are drawn in her train.

Section 322

P. 968

O my God, give me the sovereign grace to respond to all Your invitations with generosity.

p. 969

How have we responded to the invitation? Have we not also shown more interest and concern for earthly matters than for the things of God?

In order to respond to this invitation, our assent must be more than nominal. It must involve the sincere and profound commitment of our whole soul.

It is well to remember that the problem of corresponding to a vocation is not one that can be resolved once and for all on the day that we embrace a particular state of life; it is a question that arises every day, because each day our vocation calls for new response, a fresh adherence adapted to the circumstances and grace of the moment. A vocation attains its full realization only by our continual fidelity to God’s invitation. These invitations  follow one another without interruption and reveal to the attentive soul ever new horizons, presenting new duties, new opportunities for generosity, and new aspects of perfection and immolation. The parable ends with this grave sentence: : “Many are called but few are chosen” Why are only a few chosen? Because there are few who know how to correspond day by day with the grace of their vocation; because there are few who know how to accept all the consequences and demands of the divine call and who always answer yes to the solicitations of grace.

P974

Our apostolate consists in associating ourselves with what Jesus has done for the redemption of mankind; therefore it is not limited to external activity, but it also consists and essentially so , in prayer and sacrifice. Thus on clearly sees that there are two fundamental forms of apostolate: the interior apostolate of prayer and immolation, which is a prolongation of the hidden life and of the Passion of Jesus; and the exterior apostolate of word and of work, which is a prolongation of His public life. Both are a participation in the redemptive work of Jesus, but there is a great difference between them.

p. 977

What still remains to be done is the application of these graces (the precious Blood of Jesus) to each individual soul; and it is for this that God wishes our collaboration. He wants it so much that He has made the granting of certain graces necessary for our salvation and that of others, dependent upon our prayers. In other words, by the merits of Jesus, grace – God’s infinite mercy – is ready to be poured out abundantly into men’s souls, but it will not be poured out unless there is someone who raises supplicating hands to heaven, asking for it. If prayer does not ascend to the throne of the Most High, grace will not be granted. This explains the absolute necessity for apostolic prayer and its great efficacy. ….Our activity, our words and works can prepare the ground for grace, but if we do not pray, it will not come down to refresh souls.

Apostolic Immolation 326

P981

Our participation in the apostolate of Jesus attains its fulfillment in the sacrifice of ourselves – not an imaginary, hypothetical sacrifice, but one that is real and concrete. The form and measure of this sacrifice will be made known to us by God Himself, through the circumstances of our life, the events permitted by His divine Providence, the orders of our superior, and the duties of our state in life. When, for the salvation of souls, we are disposed to live in continual sacrifice of our own  will, in continual renouncement of self; when we are disposed to let ourselves be crucified in whatever way the holy will of God ordains, in order to win other souls to His love, then we shall have reached the apex of the apostolate and hence of apostolic fruitfulness.

P982….

Christ has purchased our souls at the price of His precious Blood; and whoever wishes to collaborate with Him in the salvation of mankind, should be willing to unite to the most precious Blood of Christ some drops of his own blood. Souls cost dearly, and an apostle must pay with himself for those he wants to win. The apostolate is true and fruitful in the measure in which it is imbued with suffering, which is the fruit of immolation.

When we have a right intention, that of giving glory to God and drawing others to His service, we should not fear lest our good works be seen; on the contrary, we should feel it a duty to edify others by our conduct.

P990

Anyone who sincerely seeks God’s will and follows it, will be guided not by his own spirit, but by God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and can be sure that he will not go astray. ….When a soul allows itself, with childlike docility, to be led by the Holy Spirit, He takes complete possession of it, filling it entirely with Himself and from this plenitude, the spirit of prayer, virtue, humble submission and fraternal love spontaneously blossoms forth. To follow God’s will under the direction of the Holy Spirit is the quickest and safest way of reaching our heavenly home.

p. 992

One who is just setting out in the spiritual life is not capable of attending to his own sanctification and the sanctification of others simultaneously; he should first have time to concentrate all his powers on his own spiritual formation. Furthermore, since the effectiveness of the apostolate corresponds to the degree of love and union with God which the apostle has attained, it is evident that a beginner will not be capable of exercising a very fruitful apostolate. Hence, if he engages in the active apostolate prematurely, he will dissipate his energy uselessly, with consequent harm to his own interior life and to the fruitfulness of his apostolate.

This true Catholic tradition demands that, before apostles go out into the field of battle, they must prepare themselves by the practice of an intense interior life, which will make them qualified, fruitful instruments for the good of souls

p 999

“The apostolate should always be exercised in a saintly manner, with such purity of intention, such interior union with God, such generous forgetfulness and abnegation of self, and with so great a love for souls that it (the apostolate) flows from the interior spirit which informs it and at the same time nourishes and renews this same spirit.” Pope Pius XII P

O God, remove from my heart all secondary intentions and all movements of self-love, so that I may seek only Your glory.

P1002

O Lord, You who give Yourself to us even to becoming our food, teach me to give myself to souls even unto total forgetfulness of myself.

“O lord, help me to understand well that my work has eternal value only in proportion to the love with which I do it, and not to the success or failure it may or may not have. Even if I do not see the fruits, what does it matter as long as You see them? You want me to work in the spirit of faith, without seeking personal satisfaction.” Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, OCD

p. 1005

Impress in me such a deep sense of my poverty, O Lord, that I may look to You for everything and attribute to You, to You alone, all that is good.

P1006

If only we were truly convinced that, although God may will to make use of us, He alone can produce fruits of eternal life, He alone can give grace to souls, and we are nothing but instruments! In fact, the smaller we make ourselves by acknowledging our own poverty, the more qualified we become to be used as a means for the salvation of others. What glory can a brush claim if a skilled artist uses it to perfect a work of art? Can the marble used by Michelangelo to sculpture his Moses boast of any merit? 

P1007

O Lord, you wish that in my apostolate I may feel and recognize my nothingness, but at the same time You want me to let myself be taken and carried by You to accomplish the mission that You confide to me, and then enter again into obscurity and silence, boasting of nothing and saying only: ‘ servi inutiles sumus’; I am a useless servant, without You I can do nothing.  Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, OCD

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