Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Economic melt-down

You thought I was going to write about that which is on everyone's mind these days? Actually, I was thinking more in terms of the "economy of salvation" - to use a seldom used term. But without a doubt, the two are related, for without a solid foundation, can a wall stand? No, it will fall, especially if you take out the cornerstone (see next Sunday's gospel, Matthew 21:33-43). And the structure that is the Church, built on the foundation of the apostles & prophets(Ep 2:20)? what happens to the household of God, when those whose prayers hold it together say, "I don't want to do this any more?"

From DIVINE INTIMACY, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, teach me to pray, suffer, and work with You for the salvation of souls.


I. When we speak of the apostolate, we think almost exclusively of external activity; this is certainly necessary, but it is not the only kind of apostolate. We must always bear in mind that Jesus saved us not only by the activity of the last three years of His life, which were dedicated to the evangelization of the multitudes and the formation of the first nucleus of the Church, but also by prayer, suffering, vigils-by His whole life. Jesus was always an apostle, always the one sent by the Father for our salvation. His apostolate began at Bethlehem in the dreariness of a cave; as a tiny Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, He was already suffering for us; it continued during the thirty years spent at Nazareth in prayer, in retirement, in the hidden life; it took an external form in His direct contact with souls during His public life, and reached its culmination in His agony in the Garden of Olives and His death on the Cross. Jesus was an apostle in the stable of Bethlehem, in the shop of St. Joseph, in His anguish in Gethsemane and on Calvary no less than when He was going through Palestine, teaching the multitudes or disputing with the doctors of the law.

Our apostolate consists in associating ourselves with what Jesus has done for the redemption of mankind; therefore, it is not limited to external activity, but it also consists, and essentially so, in prayer and sacrifice. Thus one clearly sees that there are two fundamental forms of apostolate: the interior apostolate of prayer and immolation, which is a prolongation of the hidden life and of the Passion of Jesus; and the exterior apostolate of word and of work, which is a prolongation of His public life. Both are a participation in the redemptive work of Jesus, but there is a great difference between them. The interior apostolate is the indispensable foundation of the exterior apostolate; no one, in fact, can hope to save souls by exterior works which are not sustained by prayer and sacrifice. On the other hand, there are cases where external works can be dispensed with, without, on that account, lessening the interior apostolate of prayer and sacrifice, which can still be very intense and fruitful. Every Christian is an apostle, not only in virtue of the activity in which he engages, but principally because of his participation in the prayer and sacrifice by which Jesus has redeemed the world.

2. The interior apostolate can subsist by itself; in fact, there are states of life that justify the absence of an exterior apostolate. One of these is the purely contemplative life, which has always flourished in the Church. Like a mother, she jealously defends it against the attacks of those who condemn it as an escape from the field of action. Those who follow God's call and retire from active works to give themselves to this kind of life are not deserters; if they leave the ranks of the external apostolate, they do this only in order to give themselves to a more intensive apostolate, that of prayer and continual immolation.

"Those in the Church who perform the function of prayer and continual penance, contribute to the growth of the Church and the salvation of the human race to a greater degree than those who cultivate the Lord's field by their activity; for, if they did not draw down from heaven an abundance of divine grace to irrigate the field, the evangelical workers would certainly receive less fruit from their labors" (Pius XI: Umbratilem). This authorized statement of a great Pope can leave no doubt as to the immense apostolic value of the contemplative life; but, on the other hand, it is but just to remark that such value is realized only when contemplatives engage themselves with all their strength in prayer and continual immolation. In other words, it is not any kind of prayer or sacrifice that will result in such great fruitfulness, but only the prayer and sacrifice that come from an extremely pure and generous heart, a heart wholly given to God and which, day by day, renews and lives its immolation with ever greater freshness and intensity. When the contemplative life is lived with such intensity it is, in an eminent way, an apostolic life.

It is in this sense that Pope Pius XII has defined the vocation to a cloistered life as "a universal, apostolic vocation...a fully and totally apostolic vocation, not limited by boundaries of place, time, and circumstances, but always and everywhere, zealous for everything that in any way relates to the honor of the heavenly Spouse or the salvation of souls" (Apostolic Constitution: Sponsa Christi). Furthermore, contemplative monasteries, by the simple example of their hidden life, their prayer and penance, are a continual reminder for all to be detached from earthly things and to seek those that are heavenly : union with God and sanctity.


"What can I do, O Jesus, to save souls? You answer me with the words You once addressed to Your disciples, pointing to the fields of ripened corn: 'Lift up your eyes and see the countries; for they are already white for the harvest. ...The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He send forth laborers.'

"How mysterious it is! O Jesus, are You not all powerful? Do not creatures belong to You who made them? Why then do You say, 'Pray ye the Lord of the harvest to send laborers?' Why? O Jesus, because You have so incomprehensible a love for us that You want us to have a share with You in the salvation of souls, You want to do nothing without us. You, the Creator of the universe, wait for the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls redeemed like it at the price of Your blood.

"My vocation is not to go harvesting in the fields of ripe corn; You do not say to me: 'Lower your eyes, look at the fields, and go and reap them'; my mission is still loftier. You tell me: 'Lift up your eyes and see.... See how in heaven there are places empty; it is for you to fill them...you are to be My Moses praying on the mountain; ask Me for laborers and I shall send them, I await only a prayer, a sigh from your heart!'

"Behold, O Lord, the mission You have entrusted to me, to contribute by prayer and sacrifice to the formation of evangelical workers who will save millions of souls whose mother I shall be" (cf. T.C.J. L, I 14).

1 comment:

  1. Really liked the "Economic melt-down" post.

    I've only read fragment of Divine Intimacy. Somehow, I had the impression that it was from the 19th century or older. Well, obviously that's not true, if it contains quotes from Pius XI and Pius XII.

    I have at times wondered about intercessory prayer. Surely, God's love for the intended beneficiary of my intercessory prayers is truer than my own. So how could my failure to pray cause Him to withhold help from the beneficiary? Aware that my understanding is wretched, I have not allowed this to stop me from rubbing sticks together to heat up my lukewarm prayer. But I have continued to wonder about it.

    This passage places a nice perspective on the problem. God hungers for collaboration in the work of salvation. Like a mother trying to get a 3-year-old to help set the table. The mother could do it faster herself, but she wants to get the child involved.

    Thanks for posting this.

    -- Mike T.

    P.S. So what happens when those who are supposed to pray stop? I guess the Master of the vineyard sends another representative to reason with those caretakers. As Father Mariusz says, "Why does He keep on doing that?" Yes, He has a sense of urgency, and yes, He has far more than all the time in the world.