In Piety, our whole life is directed to God; study helps up establish a better relationship with God, and to come to know His will for us. Action is the exercising of our mind, will and senses—basically doing something. However, in the life of the Christian, our action has Jesus Christ as the focus or reason we do a thing—the things we do and say—our actions are a consequence of being Christian.
Apostolic Action takes Christian action a step further. Apostolic Action is exercising the power of Love; love of God and love of neighbor to bring them closer to Christ. Apostolic Action is important to us. James reminds us that faith without works is dead.
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. [James 2:15-16]
• On Ash Wednesday, in the Best Lent Ever, Matthew Kelly reminds us that as Christians we are called to act in the world; not to be spectators. We are called to take action—to take bold action—to be involved, to be engaged in the life of our culture and our country.
• Matthew reminds us that it is easy to get distracted by all of the things that we have little to no control over and that we can’t influence. When we get caught up or discouraged by the things that are outside of our control or influence, we often wander away from what Matthew calls our ‘sweet spot.’ That place in our lives where we can have the most impact.
How often have you heard the phrase, “Walk the talk and not merely talk the talk?” Apostolic action or to be apostles means living in Grace so that God can work through us to bring others to Himself.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear much fruit.” [John 15:16]
Finally, Apostolic Action is essential to the Church
If we don’t act, the Church is not able to carry out its mission to, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” [Mark 16:15]
How do we participate in the Church’s mission to ‘proclaim the Gospel to every creature’? Does that scare you?
It’s hard for me to recognize my Action. I believe my action is something that just flows from who I am. For me, I can see moments when I have been Christlike in my actions, attitudes, and thoughts. But until they become intentional, I’m not sure they are necessarily apostolic in nature.
On the weekend, we learned that for our action to be apostolic it needs to be more than just being kind or considerate towards our neighbors. A non-Christian and non-believer can perform good deeds. To clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick or in prison are all good things, but if we fail to introduce them to Jesus, we have missed the punch line. Remember, “The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today” ― St. Francis Of Assisi.
On the weekend we learned about the qualities of Action:
• Rational – we need to employ our mind. We need to have a plan of action.
• Resolute – our apostolic action needs to be bold, decisive, intentional.
Part of our Lent, we are praying for the conversion of poor sinners. I believe we need to go after the most influential who are doing the most damage. First, what comes to mind are those who lead Catholics in the wrong direction. Especially, but not limited to, those who are in positions of power and profess to be Catholic, while advocating falsehoods and immorality, leading Catholics to believe this is somehow the "New Catholicism." "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES LENT" goes for 40 days, starting on Ash Wednesday and going until April 15 (Day 54). We will name a person each day and keep a running list. I encourage you to keep a notebook, and record each name, and pray over that notebook each day. Let's ask God to convert these poor sinners!!!
• Enthusiastic – our apostolic action needs to be enthusiastic.
• Constant – it is ongoing. We need to look for opportunities. We must avoid discouragement.
I can read or hear about the laws being proposed or signed into law that are anti-life. Laws that promote the killing of unborn children and even infanticide.
After attending the March for Life in Washington DC, we woke to the news about the law being proposed in New York that was to make New York the abortion capital. It was disheartening to hear about the law being voted on in New York that would expand the killing of infants and the planned celebration by the supposedly Catholic Governor.
It was a cold morning, but we knew that no matter how cold it was we had to attend the NJ Right to Life Rally in Trenton. We couldn’t tell the legislators of New York how we stood on abortion but by attending the NJ Right to Life rally we could show our support to any NJ Legislators that happened to walk by.
After hearing about the bill in New York state, I was a little discouraged and had to be reminded that the final battle is already won—Jesus wins.
• Supernatural – trust in God
It is His Grace, living in us, that helps us live out our Baptism; which in turn, helps to nurture the seed planted in their soul. People want to see it in you before they will want to hear it from you.
We know that our Apostolic Action is accomplished with Christ because our life in Grace and our prayer help us to trust that He is beside us. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” [Psalm 23:4]
• Apostolic – everything we do, we do for the Lord, not for our own glory.
Jesus sent His Apostles, now He sends you and me to love and serve our neighbor through our Apostolic Action. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” [John 20:21]
From the Cursillo perspective we all know the answer; we are called to proclaim the Gospel to those we meet in our moveable square meter by making a friend, becoming friends, and making them friends with Jesus.
• Make a friend. Probably the easiest step. All it takes is the will to take the first step; to introduce yourself. It is important that we are looking for them, don’t expect them to be looking for you.
• Becoming a friend. Live a true, Christlike life. Be interested in knowing them—what they believe and what they are interested in.
• Making them a friend of Jesus. This final step is not accomplished unless it is done for Christ, with Christ, in Christ and like Christ. Our Apostolic Action must be focused on Jesus; we desire that others love Jesus, and we are not worried whether or not they love us.
We need to be open to and look for opportunities.
Recently, on our flight to California, I was sitting next to a gentleman that appeared Asian. I noticed the book he was reading and writing in looked like a bible. When the opportunity presented itself, I introduced myself to him and asked him if the book was a bible. It was a bible, in Korean and English. We talked for a few minutes. I learned that he was returning home to California. He had been teaching bible studies to Spanish-speaking people in north Jersey. He said that he goes to New Jersey several times a year to teach. When I told him that I was Catholic, he shared that his parents were Catholic, and he was raised Catholic, until in his words, “I got saved.”
I wasn’t ready for the “Catholic until I got saved” comment. I spoke with him a little more sharing my faith but felt insecure and inadequate to ask why left his Catholic faith. After landing we both wished each other a safe trip and a blessed day. But I felt like I missed an opportunity to share deeper.
As a couple, we complement one another. We need each other’s support to get out of our own way.
Recently, after the birth of their second daughter, our son let us know that he might need some financial help. Richard’s response was, “If he needed help, he would ask”. Similarly, our niece who has asked for financial help in the past, indicated that they were having financial issues. When we hadn’t heard from her for several weeks, Richard felt we should reach out to her. For my part, I wanted Richard to reach out to our son and see if he needed help. I was more willing to help our son than our niece, while Richard was more willing to reach out to our niece.
Sometimes our feelings and attitudes can get in the way; but together we can be open to all the opportunities that present themselves in our lives. Maybe that’s why Jesus sent the disciples out in twos—to support each other; to be strength to the other when they are tired or worn down; and in our case, to reveal the attitudes that may get in the way of our being Christ to someone else.
We also need to be prepared for successes as well as failures; sometimes people will be open for the message of the Gospel and there will be times that people are not willing to hear the Good News. There will be times that you may see success in your apostolic action but there are times you may not. As St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, “God does not call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful.”
Our oldest son grew up Catholic, and got married in the Catholic Church, but ever since he and his wife have not had anything to do with God or the church. When asked about Baptizing their first daughter, they said that they would let her choose. Now, they have two daughters and all we can do is love them and pray that God works in their lives. I’m sure there were things we could have said or done differently, but you can’t worry about what was, only what happens from now on. We pray and hope and try to be an example of Jesus Christ in the world.
Sometimes that is all you can do. Remember, you may be the only bible that someone ever reads or hears. Let me leave you with one last thought from Matthew Kelly:
“Go out tomorrow and create one Holy Moment. Just one Holy Moment. Not a holy day, not a holy hour, not a holy fifteen minutes, just one single Holy Moment.”
A holy moment is a moment where you set aside self-interest, you set aside self-will, you set aside what you want to do and you just do exactly what you feel God calling you to do in that moment.