instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, January 22, 2007

Little-a apostles

"Are all apostles?," St. Paul asked the Corinthians, and the answer, of course, is no, not in the big-A Apostle sense of being sent by God on a particular mission to carry the Gospel to an area of the world that has not yet heard of Jesus.

But every Christian is called to be a little-a apostle, so to speak, to carry the Gospel to areas of their own little worlds of family, friends, and associates. Everyday Apostles: Commonsense Ways to Draw Others to Christ is a book about this sort of everyday apostleship, a Sophia Press reprint of a 1912 book by Fr. Edward F. Garesché, SJ.

The book contains eleven brief chapters covering different but interrelated apostleships:
  1. The Apostleship of the Common Man: Most of us will never work mighty deeds for the Faith, but we can bring Christ in countless ordinary ways.
  2. The Apostleship of Speech: Be ready to give reason for the hope within you. If your friend has a question, is he going to call up a priest or is he going to ask you?
  3. The Apostleship of Service: You aren't prepared to answer the need that lies before you? So you aren't prepared. Answer it.
  4. The Apostleship of Home: If you can't live your faith in front of your children, why would they live the Faith?
  5. The Apostleship of Encouragement: Don't fail to encourage people who need encouragement.
  6. The Apostleship of Praise: Praise virtue, and others might come to value it.
  7. The Apostleship of Speech in Business: Refrain from evil speech at work, and people might notice.
  8. The Apostleship of Character: "Put on a Catholic face," which is to say, live with a Catholic spirit so that you put a human face on Catholicism.
  9. The Apostleship of Counsel: You wouldn't let a friend invest in a losing stock. Will you let him invest in a losing worldview?
  10. The Apostleship of Charity: The poor you will always have with you, so the opportunity to help them you will always have, too.
  11. The Apostleship of Consistency: Imagine what effect just one non-hypocritical Catholic might have on the world.
Some of this amounts to pointing out the beneficial effects on others of simply doing what you ought to and not doing what you ought not do.

But a lot of it also requires a conscious decision or commitment to add to what is required of you. And a number of these apostleships -- Speech and Counsel in particular, I'd say -- are just the things in practice that give apostleship a bad name.

The artlessness with which counsel is so often offered is enough to put a body off counsel altogether. But of course, the problem isn't with counsel, it's with artlessness. We can overcome artlessness with preparation, and the best preparation is prayer.

Who doesn't think it would be nice to lead others to Christ? Well, whoever thinks that but doesn't pray for the gifts to actually do it is just daydreaming.

NOTE: I bought Everyday Apostles when I heard about the financial problems Sophia Institute Press is having. It has some excellent books in its catalog, and it would be a real shame if some of those old classics were to go out of print again. You might consider taking a look at their books and, if the spirit moves you, placing an order yourself.