Presence of God – Take me, O Lord, and make me worthy of collaborating with You in the work of extending Your kingdom.
St. Paul, speaking of the work of the apostolate, says: “Dei sumus adjutores” (1 Cor 3:9); we are God’s coadjutors, collaborators with Him.
The apostolate, therefore, is not merely a personal activity, the more or less praiseworthy result of our own resources and initiatives; nor is it an activity which we can carry on according to our own ideas, and much less by our own powers. Every type of apostolate is a collaboration in the one work of redemption and sanctification which God has been developing through the centuries. No one but God, who is Sanctity itself, the Creator and Source of all grace, has the power to redeem and sanctify. “There is one Mediator of God and men” (1 Tm 2:5); one alone is the Redeemer and Sanctifier: Jesus, the Incarnate Word. All others, the greatest saints, and even our Blessed Lady, are apostles only insofar as they collaborate in Christ’s work. As St. Paul teaches, we do nothing but lend God our activity: “I have planted, Apollo watered, but God gave the increase. Therefore, neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Cor 3:6,7).
The field certainly must be cultivated before it can produce fruit, but the farmer’s work is not enough; there must be rain and sunshine, and the season must be favorable. Similarly, in the plan established by God for the salvation of men, 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. St. Paul was so thoroughly convinced of this fact that, when speaking to the Corinthians he exclaimed, “Dei agricultura estis, Dei aedificatio estis” (1 Cor 3:9); You are God’s husbandry; you are God’s building. And although he was the first to bring them to the faith, he does not say, you are my children, you are my field, but “you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” The apostolate is not a human but a divine work, to which man lends his collaboration as a humble instrument.
“O my God, I know that You have no need of anyone to accomplish Your work, but just as You permit a clever gardener to cultivate rare and delicate plants, providing him with the necessary skill to accomplish it, so You wish to be helped in the divine cultivation of souls…. Oh! how many souls might attain great sanctity if only they were directed aright from the start!
“My God, the greatest honor You can do a soul is not to give it much but to ask much of it. Therefore, when You make me suffer for the salvation of souls, You are treating me like one of Your privileged friends! Was it not by suffering and dying that You redeemed the world? O Jesus, I aspire to the happiness of sacrificing my life for You, but I know that martyrdom of the heart is no less fruitful than the shedding of one’s blood, and even now this martyrdom is mine. How beautiful, O Lord, is the part You have reserved for me, a part worthy of an apostle!
“O Lord, I desire to work with You for the salvation of souls; I have only the single day of this life in which to save them and thus give You proofs of my love. The morrow of this day will be eternity; then You will return me a hundredfold for the joys I am sacrificing for You.
“How sweet it is, O Jesus, to offer You our slight sacrifices to help You save the souls which You have redeemed at the price of Your Blood, and which await only our help in order not to fall into the abyss.
“How happy I would be if, at the hour of my death, I could have a single soul to offer You! There would be a soul snatched from the fire of hell to bless You for all eternity” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Letters 184, 171, 23).
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Art: St. Paul, El Greco, 1610/1614, PD-US old, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.