Monday, February 3, 2014

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene on the Apostolate, pt. 1

An apostle, working for God for the good of souls, must live an intimate spiritual union with Him, so as to enter as far as possible into His views and plans for the salvation of the world.

Only by penetrating to the depths of the mystery of God's love for mankind can the apostle cooperate in the actual diffusion of love and grace. He must keep in close contact with God by means of the theological virtues, and must try to grasp the profound inspirations of His love. [...]

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. [...]

Unless our life is one of intimacy with God and His Son Jesus, we cannot be His collaborators, docile instruments in His hands; unless we have an intense interior life, we cannot have the mind of Christ and be associated with His love and His work for the salvation of souls.

By means of prayer and the struggle against sin, by self-renunciation, and the practice of the virtues, the interior life progressively rids the soul of all that is defective [....] 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. Who, then, will be better able to understand the great mystery of the Redemption and contribute his share to it, than one who by means of a fervent interior life, lives in intimate friendship with God?

The first degree of friendship with God, which consists in the absence of serious [mortal] sin, does not suffice to fulfill the purposes of the apostolate. A deeper relationship is required, one which creates such uniformity of will, desire 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. [...]

Only if we are friends of God can we be apostles. [...]

The more a soul is united to God, the more it shares in the power of God Himself; and hence, its prayers, sacrifices, and works undertaken for the salvation of souls, are efficacious and attain their end. [...]

In a single moment [...] God infused charity into us without any cooperation on our part, but He does not preserve this gift, much less increase it, unless we remain united to Him by living an interior life. The purpose of the struggle against our passions, the practice of the virtues, recollection, prayer, the practice of the presence of God, and frequent reception of the Sacraments, is to foster union with God and the growth of charity. [...] The interior life is the soul of the apostolate. A deep interior life will generate intense love and intimate union with God, and, therefore, from it will spring a fruitful apostolate, a true sharing in Christ's work of saving souls; on the other hand, a mediocre interior life can produce only a feeble love and union with God; hence, the resultant apostolate cannot have an efficacious influence on souls. [...] If this interior flame be extinguished, then the apostolate will be emptied of its substance and reduced to mere external activity which may make a great noise, but will not bring forth any fruit. St. John of the Cross says, "It is the hammer vigorously and to accomplish little more than nothing, at times nothing at all; at times, indeed, it may even be to do harm" (Spiritual Canticle, 29.3). [...]

The interior life is the vital principle, the force, and the flame of the apostolate. [...] When a soul is fired with zeal for the apostolic life, its very desire to win other souls for God impels it to devote itself with greater generosity to prayer, mortification, and the practice of the virtues, with the intention of making itself more capable of a fruitful apostolate. [...] The apostolate in its turn is a very powerful mainspring urging the soul on to union with God, to perfection, to sanctity. [...]

The dogma of the Communion of Saints tells us precisely that the grace and holiness of one of Christ's members necessarily redounds to the advantage of all the other members. [...]

A cold spiritual life, indifferent to the good of souls, is necessarily dwarfed; it is nothing more than a mean, petty and selfish form of piety; it has lost its vital heat, the warmth of charity, and does not even deserve the name of life. On the contrary, where the fire of the apostolate burns brightly, one's interior life becomes more vigorous than ever and makes one capable of great generosity. [...] When we think that the salvation of other souls may depend on our generosity, our fidelity to grace, or our immolation, then we can refuse nothing to our Lord, and we find the strength to accept even what is most bitter and painful. [...]

God 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. [...] There is no substitute for prayer, because prayer draws grace directly from its source, God. 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. [...]

By their lives of continual prayer, adoration and unceasing praise to the Most High, these souls supply for the negligence and carelessness of many, and thus they re-establish in the world the balance between God's rights and man's duty, between action and contemplation. [...] In the Church they are "powerhouses" of supernatural energy, energy derived from and accumulated by prayer, and diffused by it to the utmost bounds of the earth. [...]

Unfortunately we often put more trust in our work, our diligence, our technique, than in our prayer; we have not enough faith in its efficacy, in the help which God will surely give those who invoke Him from their heart, and as a result, we consider wasted the time we give to prayer. This basic error springs from a lack of faith and humility; it is an error which explains the sterility of so many works. "Let those, then, who are great actives," admonishes St. John of the Cross," that think to girdle the world with their outward works and their preachings, take note here that they would bring far more profit to the Church, and be far more pleasing to God (apart form the good example they would give) if they spent even half of this time with God in prayer" (Spiritual Canticle, 29.3). [...]


Source: Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, Divine Intimacy, trans. by Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Boston (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 2005), 962-963, 965-967, 971-973, 977-979, "320: One with the Mind of Christ," "321: The Soul of the Apostolate," "323: The Apostolic Ideal," "325: Apostolic Prayer."

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