Presence of God – I place myself in the presence of Jesus, in order to learn from Him, the first Apostle, the Apostle par excellence, the qualities I need to make my activity of real value to souls.
During the three years of His public life, Jesus carried out an exterior apostolate on a large scale, but His activity was never separated from His intimate union with the Father; rather, it blossomed from it: a union not limited to His hours of prayer, but a permanent, indissoluble union embracing every moment of His life. Such a union, a substantial union with God, could exist only in Christ because of the hypostatic union and the Beatific Vision which He enjoyed. Nevertheless, as far as is possible for mere creatures, we should strive to imitate this conduct of Jesus and to live in constant union with God, even while working for our brethren. In this sense the interior life is the soul of the apostolate; a really efficacious activity, the bearer of grace to souls, can proceed only from one who lives intimately united to God. Jesus Himself has proclaimed it, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
Union with God, union with Jesus, is the preliminary and indispensable requisite for the efficacy of any apostolic life. This union is accomplished by means of sanctifying grace, it grows with the fervent reception of the sacraments and with the generous practice of the virtues; it is established more firmly and strengthened by prayer, and is consolidated and preserved by recollection and detachment. The more one’s union with God increases, the more the action which flows from it will bear fruit for souls. An apostolic activity which is purely external, one which under the pretext of having important duties, neglects the exercises of the interior life—prayer and the quest for union with God—condemns itself to sterility.
O Jesus make me understand that the greatest works of the apostolate are only useless agitation if they do not proceed from a profound interior life. You are the true vine through which the sap of divine grace flows, and only the branch which is grafted onto You can distribute it to souls by bringing forth for them fruits of grace. What illusion is mine if, allowing myself to be carried away by the urgency of my works, I squander myself on them, neglecting to nourish and strengthen my union with You! Yet your warnings are ever before me: “Without Me, you can do nothing.” Only “he who abides in Me bears much fruit.” O vain agitation! O the uselessness of so many of my works, undertaken only by human activity, as if their fruit depended on my industry and ability! O my God, preserve me from such stupidity. No, I do not wish to waste my energy and lose my time in this way. What would be the value of being consecrated to You and dedicated to the apostolic life if, afterward, I confined myself to a purely human activity which could be done by any professional or workman? Even those who do not believe in You devote themselves to social work: they open schools and hospitals, they print books and newspapers and spread propaganda…. My activity must be distinguished from theirs by the interior spirit which animates it: the spirit of union with You, the spirit of prayer, of sacrifice. Only this spirit has the great power to transform poor human activity into supernatural action, into apostolate. Grant, O Lord, that my activity may be that of a vigorous branch which is firmly grafted onto You; grant that it may be impregnated with prayer, permeated with sacrifice.
Make me understand, O my Jesus, how necessary it is for me to die to myself in order to attain that complete purity of intention which should animate every true apostolate! How often I think I am moved by zeal for Your glory and the welfare of souls, when perhaps, on the contrary, I am moved, at least in great part, by my pride. I want that initiative, that work, because I find in it an outlet for my natural tendency toward activity, for my secret hankering to put myself forward, to make myself important, to obtain praise and success. And is it not for just such motives that I so often resist obedience, the wishes, and even the expressed will of my superiors, thinking that they do not understand me and that, therefore, I can follow my own opinion in preference to theirs?
O my God, when I consider all these possible errors of my ego seen thus in Your light, how ugly, mean, hateful, and profoundly unworthy of a consecrated soul they seem! Yet if they arouse in me a feeling of horror, I do not ask You, O my God, to diminish Your light; on the contrary, I beg You to make it always more penetrating, so that I may be able to see clearly into my soul and, with the help of Your all-powerful grace, to fight energetically against these base inclinations of my ego which, like gnawing worms, threaten to ruin and destroy my apostolate. Grant me purity of intention, humility of heart, and the truth of love. Draw me to You, my God, and I shall seek none but You!
Note from Dan: This post “Apostolic Action” is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on Apostolic Action: Vine branch on the way “Algunder Waalweg”, Huberbe, 10 August 2012, CC; The Narrow Gate, 2005-12-12, http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/90997 geograph.org.uk, author: http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/3495 David Long, CC, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.