The Holy Spirit and the Apostolate
Presence of God – O Holy Spirit, take possession of my soul and transform it into a chosen instrument for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
The heart of the apostolate is love. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus understood this well; after having passed in review all possible vocations, and recognizing that they would not suffice to appease her immense apostolic desires, she exclaimed: “My vocation is found at last—my vocation is love!… In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love! Thus shall I be all things” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul 13). Where can we obtain such a complete and transforming love? We must never forget that the source of charity is the Holy Spirit, who is the personal terminus of the love of the Father and of the Son, the eternal breath of Their mutual love. This Spirit “has been given” to us, He is “ours”; He dwells in our hearts precisely to pour forth in them that supernatural love which makes us burn with love for God and for souls. “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us” (Romans 5:5). By communicating the flame of divine charity to men and associating them to His infinite love, the Holy Spirit is the secret animator and sustainer of all apostolate; “It is He,” Pius XII teaches, “who through His heavenly breath of life is the source from which proceeds every vital and efficaciously salutary action … in the Mystical Body of Christ” (Mystici Corporis). He is the soul of the Church. Do we wish to become apostles? Let us open our hearts wide to the outpourings of the Holy Spirit, in order that His love may invade and penetrate us to the point of absorbing our poor love into Himself. When the love of a soul is united to “the living flame of love” which is the Holy Spirit, so as to “become one thing with it” (cf John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love 1,3), then it becomes a vivifying love in the heart of the Church. This is the only way to realize the magnificent ideal: “In the heart of the Church I will be love. Thus I shall be everything” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul 13). To attain to this supreme summit of love and of the apostolate, we must follow, day by day, moment by moment, the motions of the Holy Spirit, open ourselves submissively to His action, and allow ourselves to be directed and governed by Him. Above all, we must yield ourselves to His infinite love which diffuses itself totally in the Father and the Son, and then overflows on souls, to draw them all into the Blessed Trinity.
“Pardon me, my Jesus, if I venture to tell You of my longings, my hopes that border on the infinite; and that my soul may be healed, I beseech You to fulfill all its desires. To be Your spouse, O my Jesus … and by my union with You, to be the mother of souls, should not all this content me? Yet other vocations make themselves felt, and I would wield the sword, I would be a priest, an apostle, a martyr, a doctor of the Church…. O Jesus, my Love, my Life, how shall I realize these desires of my poor soul?
“You make me understand that all cannot become apostles, prophets, doctors; that the Church is composed of different members; that the eye cannot also be the hand…. You teach me that all the better gifts are nothing without love, and that charity is the most excellent way of going in safety to You.
“At last I have found rest…. Charity gives me the key to my vocation. I understand that since the Church is a body composed of different members, she could not lack the most necessary and most nobly endowed of all the bodily organs. I understand, therefore, that the Church has a heart—and a heart on fire with love.
“I see too, that love alone imparts life to all the members, so that should love ever fail, apostles would no longer preach the Gospel and martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. And I realize that love includes every vocation, that love is all things, that love is eternal…. O Jesus, my Love! my vocation is found at last—my vocation is love! I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, You Yourself have given to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love. Thus shall I be all things and my dream will be fulfilled” (cf Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul 13).
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Art for this post on the Holy Spirit and the Apostolate: Gravure de “Sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus, Histoire d’une âme écrite par elle-même, Lisieux, Office central de Lisieux (Calvados), & Bar-le-Duc, Imprimerie Saint-Paul, 1937, édition 1940″; PD-US copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.