Monday, January 18, 2016
Fr. Eduardo Barrios, SJ
By definition, every baptized person is an apostle. There are no passive members in the Church. Every Christian should feel called and sent by the Lord to do apostolic work.
It is true that not all parishioners are trained to assist in ministries such as catechesis or sacred music, to name just two examples; nor do they all have qualities to lead apostolic movements.
There are also ministries that require a special vocation and years of preparation, as those inherent to the ministerial priesthood. There are also apostolic services that ask for an appropriate age and to be healthy enough, such as youth ministry.
But there is always an apostolate that is accessible to all and that can be exercised until the last day of our life: the apostleship of prayer.
If "apostle" means "sent," Jesus is the apostle of the Father. During his years in our world, Jesus developed his saving mission as a prophet-teacher, shepherd-king and high priest. To his priesthood belonged the offering of his life – with which he began a new worship – and his prayer.
Jesus prayed a lot, as is particularly evidenced by the evangelist Luke. Jesus prayed, for example, for Peter: "I have prayed that your own faith may not fail" (Luke 22:32). A few hours before his passion and death, gathered in the Upper Room with his apostles, Jesus prayed not only for the present but also for his future disciples: "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word" (Jn 17:20). And after his glorious Ascension, Jesus remains in eternal prayerful attitude for us: "Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25).
The Church was born at Pentecost, and the disciples lived through difficult situations that at times left them only with the apostleship of prayer. They did it, for example, when the authorities arrested Peter: "Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf" (Acts 12.5).
Good Christians have always been dedicated to prayer. They recognize the weakness of human nature in the order of salvation, so they pray encouraged by the words of Jesus: "Without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15,5).
What was always a practice became an institution when young French Jesuits founded in 1844 what became known as the Apostleship of Prayer. Those seminarians felt eager to go to the missions, and formation seemed too long. Father Gautrelet, their spiritual director, made them understand that from the seminary they could “do mission work" through prayer, sacrifice, study and offering all daily activities and passivity to God for the salvation of the world.
With the Morning Prayer called “Daily Offering,” the prayerful exercise their baptismal priesthood, offering themselves to the Father for the salvation of their brothers and sisters in union with Jesus Christ, who perpetuates his oblation in every Eucharist. That apostolic prayer gives great comfort to people with poor health or advanced age who can no longer participate in the pastoral activities carried out in their parishes.
As an institution, the Apostleship of Prayer arises at a historic moment characterized by the height of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In that Heart, the worshipers see the symbol of Jesus’ love for the Father and for us his brothers and sisters. From that Heart, flow the ideals, projects and feelings of Jesus. The devout person wants to tune in to the Lord, and therefore likes to repeat the aspiration: "Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like yours;" he or she also practices a prayer of trust with this one: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You."
The recourse to the Virgin Mary cannot be omitted from the Apostleship of Prayer. Marian devotion, a permanent dimension in worship and Christian life, is expressed in a privileged way with the daily recitation of the Rosary.
Since the second half of the 19th century, every pope has welcomed the Apostleship of Prayer as his own, and entrusted specific intentions for each month of the year, complying with the Pauline exhortation: "I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone" (1 Tim 2,1).
Every fervent believer seeks frequent participation in the Eucharist and in practicing diverse forms of mental and vocal prayer. Meditation based on texts of the Scripture is particularly helpful.
In some parishes of the archdiocese, like Sts. Peter and Paul in Miami, the Apostleship of Prayer is conducted formally. Every year, there is a growing group of men and women consecrated to faithfully comply with the basic practices of piety and to collaborate with the parish ministries.
There is an office here in the United States that offers printed materials to live the Apostleship of Prayer with readiness. Of utmost importance is the leaflet with the Daily Offering and the pope's monthly intentions.
In terms of organization, the Apostleship of Prayer does not compete with any apostolic movement, but it can empower everyone with the nourishment of prayer. Those wishing to receive aid for prayer, please contact:Father James Kubicki, S.J.
Apostleship of Prayer
1501 S. Layton Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924