May I Trasmit "that which I have also received": A Testimony Against Activism

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The theme of this month's Holy Cross Seminary Newsletter resolves on prayer and the necessity to place prayer first in our lives - even before our apostolic works.  The full newsletter is below but I quote from it now to highlight some noteworthy sections:

Prayer is work and it is the work of God. Man was. created in order to share in the divine occupation of. glorifying God in his life on earth and in heaven. Nonetheless, man may, and must, apply himself to the. vicissitudes of life in a prayerful manner, as is befitting. the talents God has given him.

What a work prayer is! It is a work we do not take on alone. Christ was sent to dwell among us for this reason – to pray for us and to pray with us. Christ is our success. If we refuse to work with Him, our prayer becomes restless, we seek distractions from His loving and piercing gaze, and we avoid prayer for some other good work. This temptation to ignore prayer for good works is the fallacy of activism. Activity becomes a replacement for prayer and may accomplish some good, but for others who will profit from the work – for such an activist is not growing, but is spiritually undeveloped and therefore risks losing his soul. St. Paul illustrates this danger: But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway (I Corinthians 9:27).

How many misguided souls made spiritual dwarves are caught up in busy-work and not the work of adoring God as He wishes? Such a soul has no recollection and fails to purify his intentions in his activities, which become more and more for the glory of the worker. By contrast, the true apostolate is genuine when the apostle is “pre-occupied” with, and steeped in, the life of prayer.

St. Pius X, in Hærent Animo (his 1908 Encyclical on priestly holiness, §27) says: There are some who think, and even declare openly, that the true measure of the merits of a priest is his dedication to the service of others; consequently, with an almost complete disregard for the cultivation of the virtues which lead to the personal sanctification of the priest (these they describe as passive virtues), they assert that all his energies and fervour should be directed to the development and practice of what they call the active virtues. One can only be astonished by this gravely erroneous and pernicious teaching.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law directs Bishops to ensure that their clergy adhere to a regimen that fosters holiness of life and “success” in the ministry, beginning with frequenting the Sacrament of Penance, daily mental prayer, regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament, the daily Holy Rosary and examination of conscience and the spiritual retreat.


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