THE APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER: EFFICACIOUS MEANS OF APOSTOLATE
A Letter of His Holiness to John Baptist Janssens, General of the Society of Jesus and World Director of the Apostleship of Prayer, approves the new Statutes and recommends the Association to Prelates and pastors.
Beloved Son, health and Apostolic Benediction:
Religious organizations best serve the needs of the times when on occasion, without giving up their peculiar spirit, they adapt themselves to changing conditions. The Apostleship of Prayer often has recognized this in the past. In one hundred years this association has grown from humble origins into a vast undertaking, and from time to time, as in 1896, it has revised its Statutes without surrendering those elements essential to its peculiar spirit.
Through the past fifty years the Holy See has issued many letters and exhortations having to do with various phases of the apostolate. These letters have praised the Apostleship of Prayer as being most suited to our times. With wise judgment the Directors thought to make the Apostleship even more effective by incorporating into it the strengthening ideas of these Apostolic letters. Accordingly they have reconsidered the Statutes of the Association and have submitted them in new form to this Holy See.
We ourselves are very familiar with the fruitful work of the Apostleship of Prayer. Out of zeal for souls and for the extension of Christ's Kingdom, We have recommended it many times to all. So We had these revised Statutes examined and have found them to be most worthy of Our full approbation.
The Statutes set forth clearly the weighty importance of the Association. They show the Apostleship to be a very efficacious instrument of modern apostolic ministry both for the salvation of individuals and for the general pastoral good of souls. From those features in the new Statutes which assist most in the pastoral care of souls We pick out three as being worthy of special recommendation.
First, the Association encourages the faithful to help in the conversion of souls by the offering to God of their prayers, works, and sufferings. This labor for the extension of Christ's Kingdom not only kindles a zeal for souls, a concern for the eternal salvation of the neighbor, but it promotes and puts to work those supernatural means upon which the real success of all apostolic labor depends. Hence the Association makes the work of the apostolate most effective. Its energy is not dissipated in externals, but made to produce solid and lasting fruit.
Secondly, attention should be called to the perfect way in which the members of the Apostleship of Prayer are urged to pray for and to dedicate themselves to apostolic endeavors. They are not asked merely to recite certain prayers. Their whole lives must be offered to God as a prayer and a sacrifice for the cause of the apostolate. The daily offering of self is the essence of the Apostleship of Prayer. This is perfected by other acts of piety, especially by devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The daily life of each member is thus converted into a sacrifice of praise, reparation, and impetration. In this way the forces implanted in Baptism are activated and the Christian offers his life as a sacrifice in and with Christ for the honor of God the Father and for the salvation of souls.
All the sacred practices of which the Apostleship of Prayer makes use to round out and to perfect this oblation, taken together, contain the sum total of Christian perfection. Through this sacrifice demanded by the apostolate, they put into the hands of all men the means by which Christians sanctify their lives. Personal holiness renders their apostolate most fruitful.
Finally, in as much as the Apostleship of Prayer offers "the most perfect form of Christian life" (Letter of Pius XII to the General of the Society of Jesus, 19 Sept., 1948; AAS 40-500) and contains within itself a rule and compendium for the pastoral care of souls, pastors will find the Apostleship of great use in all the ramifications of their ministry.
If the reverend pastors will introduce the flocks committed to their care to the spiritual practices of the Apostleship of Prayer, they will satisfy no small part of their pastoral obligations. For when they persuade the faithful to make the daily Morning Offering, they are teaching them that one's whole life should be offered, together with the offering of Christ, to God the Father. They are teaching them that they should aspire daily to the perfection of Christian life, in which each one tries to make himself a worthy offering to God. When they prompt the faithful to unite this self-offering with the Eucharistic Sacrifice and to approach the Holy Table as often as possible in a spirit of reparation, these reverend pastors are teaching their people to consider the unbloody Sacrifice of the Altar as the very center of their lives.
Moreover, when a pastor urges his people, as devoted children of Mary, to make their daily offering through her, when he persuades them to say the Rosary in honor of her merciful and loving heart, he is instilling in them an active and solid devotion to the Virgin Mother of God. Likewise, when the associates are taught to offer daily their prayers, sufferings, and works for the needs of the Church according to the wishes of the Vicar of Christ, or as it is usually put, for his intentions, they not only foster in themselves love for the Church and full conformity with her, but they also promote an intense love for the Supreme Pontiff, without which there can be no true union between the members and the Head of the Mystical Body of Christ. Finally, through a most ardent devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is as it were the soul of this Pious Association, the faithful are led to an intimate union with Christ; for then brotherly love becomes more fervent, their prayers, works, and sufferings acquire the utmost efficacy, then in fine is enkindled the desire to consecrate themselves to the Divine Heart and to offer Him assiduous acts of atonement, for which, as He promised, we know that He will and actually does pour out upon the human race involved in so many miseries, torrents of mercy and of grace.
Nor should we overlook the fact that the Apostleship of Prayer, which We have termed as it were a compendium of the pastoral ministries, can, by means of the special "sections" organized by it, such as the "Leagues or Federations of the Most Sacred Heart" for men, the "Eucharistic Crusade" for children, both of which this Apostolic See has more than once highly praised, adapt itself to different classes of people and thus more fully satisfy the temperament, aspirations, and requirements of each individual.
Therefore by virtue of Our authority We most willingly approve of the new Statutes of the Pious Association of the Apostleship of Prayer; and again We recommend it to the Bishops in the full confidence that they on their part will do their best to promote it with all diligence and care. We also cherish the certain hope that this Pious Association, far from obstructing or supplanting the functions of other apostolic works, will rather raise them to a higher degree of sanctity, infusing into them that spirit of holiness and love for God and men which is perpetually burning in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and kindles all with its own fire.
As a pledge of heavenly favors and as a sign of Our paternal benevolence, We lovingly in Our Lord impart to you, Beloved Son, to the Directors and to all the members of the Association, the Apostolic Benediction.
Given at Rome, from Saint Peter's, the twenty-eighth day of October, the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, in the year 1951, the thirteenth of Our Pontificate.
1 Reported above in this volume under this same canon 684.
AAS 44 365; Pius XII, Letter, 28 Oct., 1951. Annotations, <Monitor Ecclesiasticus>, 1952, p. 370 (Schwendimann).
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