The apostolic spirit

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IF we truly are consistent with our Christian identity, there should be no doubt that an essential part of it is that we are meant to be apostles and disciples of Christ who is asking us to go to the whole world, preach the gospel, and baptize people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (cfr. Mt 18,19-20)

Vatican II itself spelled it out very clearly. “The Christian vocation is by its very nature a vocation to the apostolate.” (Apostolicam actuositatem, 2) So, anyone who wants to be truly consistent to his Christian identity and calling should realize ever deeply that he is called to help others get closer to God. This is what apostolate is all about.

This duty actually springs first of all from our nature, since we are not only individual persons but are also a social being. Our sociability is not an optional feature. It is part of our essence, violating which would be equivalent to violating our very own nature.

We can never live alone. We need to be with others. And more, we need to care for one another. We have to be responsible for one another. And while this caring and loving starts with the most immediate material human needs like food, clothing, etc., it has to go all the way to the spiritual and more important needs of ours.

That’s why we need to practice affection, compassion, understanding, patience and mercy on everyone. We have to understand though that all these can only take place if they spring and tend towards God, “the source of all good things” for us.

Forget it if we believe we are capable of doing these duties merely on our own will power. We can give some semblance of their fulfilment, but if not anchored on God, the mask will just fall off sooner or later.

We have to be more aware of this duty. We need to talk about it more freely and more often. In the first place, because it has its complex and dynamic side that should be dominated and mastered. Besides, it has to contend with a world culture that is quite averse and even hostile to it.

The realization of this crucial aspect of our Christian life is what actually gives meaning and perspective to our whole life and everything contained in it. It puts our life in the right orbit.

Our life can’t simply be a life in pursuit of personal sanctity without doing apostolate. These two go together inseparably, mutually affecting each other to put us on the right track in our life.

This joint God-and-man effort is also in keeping with our dignity as persons and as children of God. As persons, we need to see to it that we get to be responsible also for our whole life, for attaining its true fullness of purpose.

And that’s nothing less than to participate in the life of God, since more than persons, we are children of his, meant to live with Him.

Thus, to do apostolate engages our intelligence and will in their proper way. It’s how we can best use our freedom and our loving. It’s how we can be truly responsible for our life.

In short, if these distinctive human faculties and activities are not used for apostolate but rather for some other human purpose, we would be misusing them. No matter how noble these human purposes are, if the apostolic dimension is missing, we would be misusing these God-given powers.