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The Many Aspects of the Christian Apostolate

In 07 Observations on 2011/08/28 at 1:11 AM

The apostolate is not something one adds to one’s normal Christian activities.  It is the Christian life itself.  A Christian needs to be many things, but above all, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, consistently giving example with cheerfulness.

Aspect 1:  The Sanctity of Today
God gives Christians the help needed to turn each routine day into a day of value and influence.  Christians can and must manifest Christ, and in doing so, bear great witness to their Christian faith in an exemplary way.  The Holy Spirit, sanctifier of the soul, inspires the desires that prod us to be better.  When the Christian meets the day, he needs to remember that today is the only time he can offer to God.  The past is memory; the future, imagination.  Therefore, he has only the present, and it is only in the present that God gives the grace to cope with whatever happens. Keeping this truth in mind, one can sanctify the day, heeding the many inspirations and graces given throughout the day to cope with its problems. This grace also enables us to concentrate on what we are doing, being faithful to those seemingly insignificant details that can be vivified by grace.

Aspect 2:  Carrying One Another’s Burdens
Our neighbors’ problems must be our problems.  As Christians we cannot be indifferent to anyone.  Friendship with the enriched by grace is powerful.  Friendship is an instrument we can use to reach others, particularly our relatives, friends and co-workers with the love of God.  With our friendship, we can lead others to God by offering encouragement, support and sound advice.  In the New Testament, the paralytic represents all of us whose sins or ignorance keep us from God.  Remember that it was his friends who cared not for human respect but went about the task of removing the roof to help their friend reach Christ, who was waiting for him and who waits today for us.  We must learn to see Christ in our neighbors, to take up His cross by taking up theirs, to minister to Him by ministering to those in need.

We simply cannot make  islands of ourselves.  We should seek to have as many friends as possible and encourage the deepening of those friendships.  It was often through friendship, as we see in the Gospels, that people were brought to Christ.  Andrew through friendship brought Peter to Christ; Phillip brought Nathaniel.

Aspect 3:  The Special Graces of Femininity
Women, in particular, are endowed with special traits given them by their Creator: gentleness, warmth, generosity, love of detail, piety, perseverance, constancy, quickness and, above all, intuition.  Pope John Paul II said:  “Your example of honesty in thought and action, joined to some common prayer, is a lesson for life and an act of worship of singular value.  In this way you bring peace to your homes.  It is thus that you build up the Church.”

Aspect 4:  Collaborating with Grace
St. Thomas Aquinas refers to men as collaborators with God’s grace, the Holy Spirit using them as instruments of that Grace.  We must be good collaborators with God’s grace, for the Holy Spirit uses men and women as an instruments.  The inert tools in the hand of a good craftsman can produce a masterpiece.

Let us ask Christ to give us a good heart, capable of having compassion for the pain of others.  To enable us to bring our suffering friends face to face with Christ and then humbly recede to leave them in the presence of Him, who alone can transform souls.  We must never forget, though, that we cannot do any good nor make Christ known if we are not making a sincere effort to live the teachings of the Gospel.  We must fix our eyes on Jesus, and with our eyes thus fixed we need fear nothing.

Aspect 5:  Listening in Silence
To make our apostolate effective we need to imbibe the doctrine of Jesus Christ which is always relevant and timely, a teaching directed to each one of us personally.  Christ always has something to tell each one of us individually.  In order to hear him, we must have a heart that knows how to listen and is attentive to the things of God.  Blessed Mother Teresa used to say: “God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts.”  His words in the New Testament speak to us; they are always relevant because they are living and eternal.  Blessed John Henry Newman says of Jesus: “He took on a human heart so he could feel.”

Aspect 6:  Viewing Decisions with God’s Eyes
When I make a decision, however large or small, do I keep in mind above all else what it is God wants of me?  We must remember that what God considers important might be very different from what we might decide is important.  Let us follow the example of His mother whose words echo in Scripture: “Be it done according to Thy will” and “Do what He tells you.”  We must meet each day’s challenge with a smile and fulfill our daily tasks regardless of their difficulties.

Aspect 7:  Forgiving Faults
A generous Christian will quickly forget the little irritations that are part of daily life, doing the unpleasant task first, accepting people as they are, ignoring their faults, giving others the benefit of the doubt and, all in all, trying to make life more pleasant for those with whom we are in contact, assisting them to grow closer to Christ by our example.

Aspect 8:  Finding Happiness in Suffering
Happiness can be found in everyday things rather than in flights of fancy and daydreams  And, we know that we will be tested.  Pain of body or mind serves to purify the soul and make it yield a better harvest.  Although suffering is a mystery, through faith we can see the loving and provident hand of God who sees the whole narrative of our lives.  Accepting the suffering, leads us closer to God and produces peace and serenity of mind and soul.  We can find God in everything including challenging situations.  God is always present, often in secret and mysterious ways.  Place your hand in His; He will never abandon you.  And if you do abandon Him, He is always ready with an extended hand to receive the prodigal child.

St. Augustine said with experience that “even our mistakes and wanderings from the right path always end up well, for God arranges absolutely everything to His own advantage.”  St. Paul also tells us “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.”  Isaiah reminds us that “no one who works for God with rectitude on intention can work in vain.”

To be instruments of God, we must cherish a life of prayer, of a personal relationship with Christ through prayer.  Prayer is the mainstay of a Christian life and the irreplaceable source of strength for any Christian work or apostolate. The apostolate is the fruit of our love for Christ, and it is only possible if we are united to God through faith, through love and through prayer.

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