The apostle

The Cross on your breast?… Very good. But the Cross on your shoulders, the Cross in your flesh, the Cross in your mind. Only then will you live for Christ, with Christ and in Christ; only then will you be an apostle.

Apostolic soul: first of all, yourself. Our Lord has said, through Saint Matthew: 'When the day of Judgment comes, many will say to me: "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, work many miracles in your name?" Then I shall tell them to their faces: "I have never known you; away from me, you evil men"'.

God forbid — says Saint Paul — that I, who have preached to others should myself be rejected.

The military mind of Saint Ignatius has left us a picture of the devil calling up innumerable demons and scattering them through nations, provinces, towns and villages, after a 'sermon' in which he exhorts them to fasten their chains and fetters on the world, leaving not a single person unbound…

You have told me that you want to be a leader; and what good is a leader in chains?

Look: the apostles, for all their evident and undeniable defects, were sincere, simple… transparent.

You too have evident and undeniable defects. May you not lack simplicity.

There is a story of a soul who, on saying to our Lord in prayer, 'Jesus, I love you', heard this reply from heaven: 'Love means deeds, not sweet words.'

Think if you also could deserve this gentle reproach.

Apostolic zeal is a divine craziness I want you to have. Its symptoms are: hunger to know the Master; constant concern for souls; perseverance that nothing can shake.

Don't rest on your laurels. If, humanly speaking, that attitude is neither comfortable nor becoming, what will it be when — as now — the laurels are not really yours, but God's?

You have come to the apostolate to submit, to annihilate yourself: not to impose your own personal viewpoints.

Never be men or women of long action and short prayer.

Try to live in such a way that you can voluntarily deprive yourself of the comfort and ease you wouldn't like to see in the life of another man of God.

Remember that you are the grain of wheat the Gospel speaks of. If you don't bury yourself and die, there will be no harvest.

Be men and women of the world, but don't be worldly men and women.

Don't forget that unity is a sign of life: to disunite means putrefaction — a clear sign of being a corpse.

Obedience, the sure way. Unreserved obedience to whoever is in charge, the way of sanctity. Obedience in your apostolate, the only way: for, in a work of God, the spirit must be to obey or to leave.

Bear in mind, son, that you are not just a soul who has joined other souls in order to do a good thing.

That is a lot, but it's still little. You are the Apostle who is carrying out an imperative command from Christ.

Be careful that contact with you doesn't make people feel like that person who once exclaimed (and not without reason): 'I'm sick of these righteous types!…'

You must inspire others with love of God and zeal for souls, so that they in turn will set on fire many more who are on a third plane and each of these latter spread the flame to their professional companions.

What a lot of spiritual calories you need! And what a tremendous responsibility if you let yourself grow cold! And — I don't even want to think of it — what a terrible crime if you were to give bad example!

It shows a bad disposition if you listen to God's word with a critical spirit.

If you want to give yourself to God in the world, rather than being scholarly (women needn't be scholars: it's enough for them to be prudent) you must be spiritual, closely united to our Lord by prayer: you must wear an invisible cloak that will cover each and every one of your senses and faculties: praying, praying, praying; atoning, atoning, atoning.

You were amazed to hear me approve of the lack of 'uniformity' in that apostolate in which you work. And I told you:

Unity and variety. You have to be different from one another, as the saints in heaven are different, each having his own personal and special characteristics. But also as alike one another as the saints, who would not be saints if each of them had not identified himself with Christ.

You, favourite son of God, should live and feel our fraternal spirit, but without familiarities.

To aspire to positions in any apostolic undertaking is a useless thing in this life, and a danger for the next.

If it's what God wants, you will be called. And then you ought to accept. But don't forget that wherever you are you can and you must become a saint, for that is why you are there.

If you are working for Christ and imagine that a position of responsibility is anything but a burden, what disillusionment awaits you!

To be in charge of an apostolic undertaking demands readiness to suffer everything, from everybody, with infinite charity.

In apostolic work there can be no excuse for disobedience, nor for insincerity. Remember that simplicity is not imprudence, nor indiscretion.

You are under an obligation to pray and sacrifice yourself for the person and intentions of whoever is 'in charge' of your apostolic undertaking. If you are careless in fulfilling this duty, you make me think that you lack enthusiasm for your way.

Be particularly respectful to whoever is in charge, whenever he consults you and you have to contradict his opinions. And never contradict him in the presence of those who are subject to him, even if he is in the wrong.

In your apostolic undertaking don't fear the enemies 'outside', however great their power. This is the enemy most to be feared: your lack of 'filiation' and your lack of 'fraternal' spirit.

I well understand your being amused by the slights you receive — even though they come from influential enemies — as long as you can feel united to your God and to your brothers in the apostolate. Slighted ? So what!

I frequently compare our apostolic work to an engine: gears, pistons, valves, bolts.

Well, charity — your charity — is the lubricant.

Get rid of that 'self-satisfied air' which isolates your soul from the souls that approach you. Listen to them. And speak with simplicity; only thus will your work as an apostle grow in extent and fruitfulness.

Contempt and persecution are blessed signs of divine predilection, but there is no proof and sign of predilection more beautiful than this: to pass unnoticed.

References to Holy Scripture
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