Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Good Advice

I mentioned last week that I recently finished reading The Soul of the Apostolate. If I had to sum up in one sentence what I took away from it, it's this:

Do not neglect prayer.

The following excerpt is probably my favorite, and is surely one I will revisit often in my schlep toward holiness:

Now for a man in the active life to give up his meditation is tantamount to throwing down his arms at the feet of the enemy. “Short of a miracle,” says St. Alphonsus, “a man who does not practice mental prayer will end up in mortal sin.” And St. Vincent de Paul tells us: “A man without mental prayer is not good for anything; he cannot even renounce the slightest thing. ‘It is merely the life of an animal.’” Some authors quote St. Theresa as having said: “Without mental prayer a person soon becomes either a brute or a devil. If you do not practice mental prayer, you don’t need any devil to throw you into hell, you throw yourself in there of your own accord. On the contrary, give me the greatest of all sinners; if he practices mental prayer, be it only for fifteen minutes every day, he will be converted. If he perseveres in it, his eternal salvation is assured.” The experience of priests and religious vowed to active works is enough to establish that an apostolic worker who, under pretext of being too busy or too tired, or else out of repugnance, or laziness, or some illusion, is too easily brought to cut down his meditation to ten or fifteen minutes instead of binding himself to half an hour’s serious mental prayer from which he might draw plenty of energy and drive for his day’s work, will inevitably fall into tepidity of the will.

In this stage, it is no longer a matter of avoiding imperfections. His soul is crawling with venial sins. The ever growing impossibility of vigilance over his heart makes most of these faults pass unnoticed by his conscience. The soul has disposed itself in such a manner that it cannot and will not see. How will such a one fight against things which he no longer regards as defects?


Andy Kirchoff said...
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Andy Kirchoff said...

I'm giving a presentation at a mini-retreat next week. This excerpt will be of great help, I'm sure!

Having spent the past 7+ weeks at a summer apostolate myself, I can say firsthand just how true the words of Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard are. Sin has a way of creeping on me unexpectedly, and if I don't keep tabs on my prayer life, it's breathtakingly easy to fall into sin, even serious sin. I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one who'd echo Bl. James on this, either. I guess I'll find out at the retreat next week!