The Little Apostolate
— for All
“Numquid apertae sunt tibi portae
mortis, et ostia tenebrosa vidisti?”
“Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? Or hast thou seen the
doors of the shadow of death?”
Many seek some form
of active Apostolate to serve Christ and the Church, especially in the
way of helping those poor souls most in need of assistance ... they
seek to assist, to be actively involved in the lives of others who
desperately need help — and it has nothing to do with money.
Most of us do not have money, and even if we did, it would be of no
avail whatever — although it involves the gravest, the most vital act
of charity possible. What is more, you do not have to go anywhere. It
will come to you.
What, then, is this most needful act of charity, and in the direst need
possible in any person‘s entire life?
It is this:
Whenever you read of or hear
about another's death — in the news, in your town, in another and remote
part of the world ... no matter who it is ... you should immediately
make the Sign of the Cross and beg God’s mercy on the person who has
died, and His pardon for their sins, and to bring that soul to final
repentance and everlasting life in God's presence.
He alone is the just Judge. It matters not to us who it is that has
died: not his faith or his lack of it; that soul is in dire need
of God's mercy and forgiveness ... and so often has no one else to pray
you are doing for the moment, even if it is within yourself,
and pray for them. It will take a few seconds ... but could mean the
salvation of a soul in and through the immeasurable mercy of Christ
You will be surprised how active — even demanding — you
will find this quiet and hidden apostolate to be.
What is more, carry it a step further: when you hear the wail of an
ambulance, do likewise, and pray for the healing of the soul to whose
need it is going. If they are in peril of death (and you know not!)
pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
This way, you will accompany so many souls on their last and often most
perilous journey: from this life to the next; from this world to Heaven,
despite the very real danger of Hell.
One day you will need the prayers of others — and perhaps
one single person's prayer will open the gates of Heaven
... and shut the gates of Hell. Your prayer to our merciful God may
be the one that makes the difference.
Remember this the next time you read the news or browse the Internet.
Especially in these evil days.
“I am house-bound — what can I do”?
“I am at work all day — what can I do”?
“I am old and alone — what can I do”?
What clarion is needed to remind you of what only you
can give in a way and measure that is yours alone, and of inestimable
Allow me to suggest a few:
- When you hear
- When you see a racing fire truck
- When you see a speeding ambulance
- When you watch a hearse pass
- When you hear the screeching of tires
- When you see tears in the face
Each of these is a clarion, a loud call, to
stop whatever you are doing ... and to pray for
someone in desperate need; in the case of an ambulance, urgent,
even critical need; and upon observing a hearse, an even greater need
for mercy that extends to eternity.
you say. Yes — but to put this into practice is difficult: it requires
sacrifice (of time) and discipline (lest you become callous and indifferent
through constant exposure) and most of all, the realization that
it is a genuine Apostolate ... an Apostolate of Prayer. It requires
your believing that God hears our prayers, and that God answers our
prayers. It is a realization that we are, for that time in prayer,
intimately united with those who suffer and die. Our prayers
can help them! But ONLY if we pray.
“But” you further
protest, “I would be praying practically all day!”.
Yes ... you would. And some day — absolutely for certain — you
will be that person in need of the prayers of others who prostrate
themselves (inwardly or outwardly) before God Who can do all things.
“Whatever you ask in My Name will be given you”,
Christ told us. Yes, but what if no one invokes that Most Holy Name?
What if we leave it to others? To the children of a dying father, children
who have not yet learned to pray or who do not know God? To the rescue
workers at a suicide bomber site in some remote part of the world
... that may come to your own doorstep so much sooner than you imagine?
To the mother who alone survived the car crash that killed her husband
and all her children. Your reading or hearing in the news of a tragedy
that has afflicted some unfortunate soul, or perhaps many hundreds.
Our circumstances, it seems, always limit us. We never seem to be where
we feel that we could be able help others in their desperate need ...
even in their last need. Perhaps we even feel that we seldom encounter
the need by others for our prayers at all: everyone we know and care
about is well and there is no impending crisis at hand.
What will call us to prayer? What will remind us of our desperately
needed prayers? How can can we help those of whom we know little or
nothing ... and yet need our prayers? Perhaps
we will be the only ones praying for them!
People do not need your “thoughts”!
The currently senseless and terribly monotonous —
as well as utterly pointless and useless — “sound-bite”
that we ever hear upon some calamity is this: “You are in our
What on earth is that supposed to mean, apart from
a clear and “correct”
aversion to the word “prayers”?
What is the point of these self-inflating words? Do your “thoughts”
somehow magically help others? Do your “thoughts”
really comfort anyone? Among my many “thoughts”,
are spontaneous and unrelated things such as, “Where is that pen
I just had?”
Or, “Imagine! Researchers have found what appear to be the
remains of a three-toed crustacean! Hmmm ...”
Your thoughts are an endless train of related and unrelated
events, ideas, or intuitions. They all have this in common: they
are only thoughts ... and nothing more. They will pass or soon
(as in “within seconds”)
be replaced by other thoughts, and you are invested in them only
fractionally, momentarily. Some thoughts will result in actions (most
of them not memorable), but most do not. We are most often simply passive
spectators of our own thoughts — if we are aware of them at all!
Our prominent political leaders are extremely adept at keeping unfortunate
people and their families “in their thoughts”
following some tragedy, and this is to say that they will forget them
as soon as they leave the press conference hastily assembled to demonstrate
their supposed solidarity with the sufferers — and because they have
more pressing issues that are (surprise!) “in their thoughts”
also. Especially when on the links immediately following the press conference
for the dead every time you hear or read of someone's death
every time you hear a siren — fire, ambulance, police — and pray when
you witness a somber funeral cortege (which will one day be your own)
for the sick
for the dying
They do not want or need your “thoughts”
— but they desire, indeed, they need your prayers ...
to One Who can help them and deliver them.
Boston Catholic Journal
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