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The Duty of the Apostolate

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Apostolate, Carmelite Spirituality, Dan Burke, Divine Intimacy

The Duty of the Apostolate


Presence of God – O Jesus, You who have accepted me as a member of Your Mystical Body, grant that I may not be in it as a stranger, but that I may work for the good of all my brethren.


Regardless of the degree of charity to which a soul may have attained and of its particular vocation, there is for every Christian a duty of apostolate based on the very fact of his being a Christian, that is, a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. “So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:5); for as in our body each member is interested in the welfare of the other members, “and if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the others rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26), so every Christian is bound to be concerned about the welfare of others.

modifiedboypullingthornfromfootbentobarbosameninotirandoespinhodope1897“If a thorn,” says St. John Chrysostom, “gets into the sole of the foot, the whole body feels it and is solicitous for it: the back bends, the hands reach down to draw it out, the head is lowered, and the eyes watch very carefully and anxiously.” As the back, the hands, the head, and the eyes do not disregard the good of the foot, nor say, ‘What is this to me?’ but each, in its own way, hastens to help the suffering member, so no Christian can be unconcerned about his brother, but is obliged, according to his ability, to work for the good of his neighbor’s soul, and this by reason of his Baptism, which constitutes him a member of the Mystical Body, making him one with the other members, so that the good of others is his good, the suffering of others is his suffering.

“The cause of all evils lies in the fact that we consider as alien the things that concern our own body [the Mystical Body of Christ]. No one is fulfilling his own duty if he ignores his neighbor’s salvation. If you dare to contend that you have nothing in common with your fellow member; if you think you have nothing in common with your brother, then neither have you Christ for your Head.” These strong words of St. John Chrysostom remind us that the apostolate is not an extra, it is not something optional, left to the free will and generosity of individuals; it is the express duty of every Christian, a duty which comes from the very nature of Christianity, a duty so binding that one cannot be a true Christian without complying with it.


“O Lord, turn Your merciful eyes upon Your people and upon Your Mystical Body, the Holy Church, since You will receive more glory from pardoning many souls than You will by pardoning only me, a wretched creature who has offended You so often. I beseech You, therefore, divine eternal Charity, to avenge Yourself on me and be merciful to Your people; I shall never depart from Your presence until I see that You have shown mercy to them. How could I be happy if I had eternal life and Your people were condemned to death?… Therefore, I wish, and as a favor I implore You, to show mercy to Your people by that same charity which moved You to create man to Your image and likeness so that He might have a share in You and in Your life.

“O Lord, I offer You my life now and forever, whenever it shall please You to take it, and I offer it for Your glory, humbly beseeching You, by the merits of Your Passion, to cleanse and purify Your Spouse, the Church, from every defect; delay no longer!… I turn my gaze in another direction and I see the lost souls of countless sinners. My heart is broken at the sight of them, or rather, it is dilated by the force of bitter regret. I am overcome with compassion, and I cannot help weeping for their misery as if I found myself—like them—soiled with the mire of their guilt.

“Lord, during Your mortal life, You bore the weight of two crosses by carrying in Your body the heavy burden of our sins. In order that I may be conformed to You, You have burdened me with the weight of two crosses: one crushes my body with infirmities and other distresses, the other transfixes my soul which grieves for the perdition and blindness of so many poor, obstinate sinners” (St. Catherine of Siena).


Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this post on The Duty of the Apostolate: Modified Menino tirando espinho do pé (Boy removing a thorn from his feet), Bento Barbosa, 1897, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons; Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Patricia

    Today”s post is clear that the Christian is obligated to be concerned about the sufferings of others because we are all one body. We understand the corporal works of mercy, hunger etc, but what about the spiritual sufferings of others?

    We have to take it one step further: do not CAUSE the sufferings of others because this is not of love. We can think of many examples in today’s society that involve the suffering caused by being forced to do something against one’ conscience, or purposefully doing something mean and misguided to teach someone a lesson in humility, realizing and allowing someone to treat others unjustly, because after all, ” they are not doing it to me”. And what about the. “unwanted ones” that we pass by every day; some on the streets, but some in out workplace and families. With just a moment’s thought, one can easily think of situations in our own daily lives that fit this description.

    Saint Teresa of Calcutta brings forth the Gospel of Saint Matthew beautifully to make this point. She says, “We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must “put on Christ” as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loves us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it to Me.” On the last day He will say to those on His right, “whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me, and He will also say to those on His left, whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for Me” (National Prayer Breakfast (Sponsored by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives) February 3, 1994).

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