Just as the clamour of the ocean is made up of the noise of each one of its waves, so the sanctity of your apostolate is made up of the personal virtues of each one of you.
You have got to be a 'man of God', a man of interior life, a man of prayer and sacrifice. Your apostolate must be the overflow of your life 'within'.
Unity. Unity and subjection. What good to me are the loose parts of a clock — even though they are finely— wrought — if they cannot tell me the time?
May I never see 'cliques' developing in your work. It would make a mockery of the apostolate: for if, in the end, the 'clique' got
control of a universal undertaking, how quickly that universal undertaking would be reduced to a clique itself!
'There are so many ways', you told me dejectedly. There need to be many; so that each soul can find its own in that wonderful variety.
Bewildered? Make your choice once and for all: and the bewilderment will turn into certainty.
Rejoice, when you see others working in good apostolic activities. And ask God to grant them abundant grace and that they may respond to that grace.
Then, you, on your way: convince yourself that it's the only way for you.
You show bad spirit if it hurts you to see others work for Christ without regard for what you are doing. Remember this passage in Saint Mark: 'Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.' But Jesus said, 'You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us'.
All that exterior activity is a waste of time, if you lack Love. It's like sewing with a needle and no thread.
What a pity if in the end you had carried out 'your' apostolate and not 'his' apostolate!
Joyfully I bless you, son, for that faith in your mission as an apostle which inspired you to write: 'There's no doubt about it: the future is certain, perhaps in spite of us. But it's essential that we should be one with the Head — 'ut omnes unum sint, that all be one!' — through prayer and sacrifice.
Those who, leaving action for others, pray and suffer, will not be noticed here; but what a radiant crown will be theirs, in the kingdom of Life! Blessed be the 'apostolate of suffering'!
It is true that I have called your discreet apostolate a 'silent and effective mission.' And I won't go back on what I said.
I think so highly of your devotion to the early Christians that I will do all I can to encourage it, so that you — like them — will put more enthusiasm each day into that effective apostolate of discretion and friendship.
When you carry out your 'apostolate of discretion and friendship', do not tell me you don't know what to say. For, with the psalmist, I will remind you: Dominus dabit verbum evangelizantibus virtute multa — the Lord places on his apostles' lips words filled with efficacy.
Those well-timed words, whispered into the ear of your wavering friend; the helpful conversation that you managed to start at the right moment; the ready professional advice that improves his university work; the discreet indiscretion by which you open up unexpected horizons for his zeal. This all forms part of the 'apostolate of friendship.'
'The dinner-table apostolate': it is the old hospitality of the Patriarchs, together with the fraternal warmth of Bethany. When we practise it, we seem to glimpse Jesus there, presiding, as in the house of Lazarus.
It is urgent that we strive to rechristianise popular celebrations and customs. It is urgent that public amusements should no longer be left to face the dilemma of being either over-pious or pagan.
Ask God to provide labourers for this much-needed work which could be called the 'entertainment apostolate'.
You praised the 'letter-apostolate' very highly when you wrote: 'I just can't manage to fill the pages with stuff likely to help the friend I'm writing to. When I begin, I tell my guardian Angel that all I want is that my letter may do some good. And even if I only write nonsense, no one can deprive me — or my friend — of these moments spent praying for what I know he needs most.'
'Before their letter arrived I had been feeling in low spirits — for no particular reason — and I was immensely cheered as I read it and saw what the others are doing.' And another: 'Your letters and the news of my brothers help me like a happy dream in the midst of the reality around us!'… And another: 'It's so wonderful to receive those letters and to realize that I'm a friend of such friends!' And another, and a thousand others: 'I had a letter from "X" and was ashamed to think of my lack of spirit compared with his.'
Now don't you agree that the 'letter-apostolate' is effective?
'Follow me, and I will make you into fishers of men'. Not without reason does our Lord use these words: men — like fish — have to be caught by the head.
What evangelical depth there is in the 'intellectual apostolate'!
It's human nature to have little respect for what costs but little. That is why I recommend to you the 'apostolate of not giving.'
Never fail to claim what is fairly and justly due to you from the practice of your profession, since your profession is the instrument of your apostolate.
'Have we not the right to take a christian woman round with us, like all the other apostles do and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?'
Words of Saint Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians. We cannot underestimate the co-operation of women in the apostolate.
'Now after this' — we read in the eighth chapter of Saint Luke — 'he made his way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chusa, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources'.
I copy. And I pray God that if some woman reads this, she may be filled with a holy and fruitful envy.
Woman is stronger than man, and more faithful, in the hour of suffering: Mary of Magdala and Mary Cleophas and Salome!
With a group of valiant women like these, closely united to our Lady of Sorrows, what work for souls could be done in the world!