23. APOSTOLATE OF PRAYER
In the Holy Mass this morning, we have read and repeated the expression: Gaudium erit coram Angelis Dei super uno peccatore paenitentiam agente, quam super nonagintanovem, qui non indigent paenitentia1 (There is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance).
Let us confidently welcome these divine consoling words, added to those others: There will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.2 Therefore, should someone who is in mortal sin rejoice? The Lord is good, very good, very good, indeed. He wants that a soul who had fallen into sin may obtain great good, uplifting it more than before. Humility is that which attracts blessings and divine graces.
The Son of God was incarnated, he came on earth for sinners. Hence, when the conversion of a sinner is obtained, he applies the fruits of his redemption. He came on earth to exercise mercy. It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.1 Jesus gave his Blood for us sinners; his Blood of infinite value. Folly of love, worthy of a God! His expression is a mystery: there will be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people...2 It would seem an injustice, so much so, that the brother of the prodigal son deplored it: so there, all the preferences are for him!3
Do not desire to be sinful souls, but may you know how to make use of sins for the following purposes:
1. To set yourselves to always walk in humility. If we have sinned even once, oh!, what an occasion and reason should we have to humble ourselves! With it, we have offended the Lord.
2. To be grateful of the forgiveness and to love God even more, the more we have offended him; the more Jesus has forgiven us, the more we love him.
3. To gain experience, so as to avoid the occasions, to use vigilance and to pray.
Peter and the Apostles had been warned repeatedly by Jesus: Pray that you may not be put to the test.1 Peter did not want to believe and he failed. After the offence, he met Jesus who looked at him with much love, Peter understood...2 Jesus does so, even with us; this morning, he also looked at you with love and asked you: let me live in your soul.
For anyone who has an apostolate like yours, there is still a way to gain something from the shortcomings: to love the sinners. To have pity on the sinners. How many souls are out of God's grace! How many do not know him nor serve him! May you have pity on those who are making their way towards hell. Our Lady told the seers of Fatima: Many souls are lost because there is nobody who prays and makes penance for them.
Do you like to pray? Do you like to devote yourselves to penance for sinners and thus, console the Heart of the Divine Master? Religious life has its sacrifices, may they be offered for sinners. Jesus Master answered the one who accused him of being always with the tax-collectors: I have come to call not the self-righteous, but sinners.1
How good he was with the repentant thief,2 with Peter,3 with Mary Magdalene4! We know how we should relate with a Jesus so good, consequently, there must never be discouragement, mistrust, dismay. Jesus is good, good, good and he shall listen to the prayer you will make for all those who are far from him.
The apostolate of prayer. To consecrate ourselves to pray for the glory of God and to obtain the health of the world is apostolate of prayer.
The prayer can be private and organized. Whoever prays for particular intentions, like for example, for the priests, schismatics, or for others, makes a private prayer; whereas, whoever takes part of the Apostolate of Prayer, makes an organized prayer.
What was Mary doing in the cradle, in the house of Nazareth, in the temple, in the Cenacle? The apostolate of prayer. What was Jesus doing in Bethlehem during his first years, in his hidden life? The apostolate of prayer. What a great deal of prayers, supplications had risen to the Heavenly Father from that little house of Nazareth! In his public life, the Divine Master was so busy, that he did not even have time to eat, but, he always found time to pray. During full working days, he would spend the previous nights in prayer: et erat pernoctans in oratione Dei1 (he spent the whole night in prayer to God).
God wants that all souls be saved,1 but through the ministry of men. The apostolate of prayer precedes baptism, conversions and obtain them. All of us have the duty of this apostolate; nobody is excluded. All can pray for the conversion of the world. Our word can be dead, unless there is the grace that vivifies it.
Roschini1 says that Mary Most Holy followed Jesus in his apostolic journeys and served him together with the Apostles. She was the head of the pious women who were assisting her. She was following Jesus so as to serve him, but also and first of all, she was praying as Jesus was preaching. Mary was the most attentive Disciple in listening to the word of the Divine Master, but she was also the most fervent prayer.
There is the big association of the Apostolate of Prayer1 in the Church, composed of around 40,000,000 associates and these offer to the Lord in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary: prayers, actions, all the work and occupations to which they devote themselves, the sufferings. Jesus offered to the Heavenly Father: sufferings, thorns, cross, lance. Let us also offer our interior and exterior sufferings, everything! The meritorious value is always ours for the increase of grace and merit, this is not ceded and it gives right to glory. The satisfactory value can be given up for the souls in purgatory.
The entreaty value is offered in the Apostolate of Prayer, with the intentions for which Jesus died on the cross and is immolated on our altars. There are no better intentions; these are the most beautiful, most intimate, most extensive, most meritorious that can be thought of. How good it is to substitute ours with them! Oh, if we could discover the intentions of Jesus in the Sacred Host, if we could get into his Heart! We will see these heartbeats: God's glory, good of souls. The same intentions sang by the angels in the hut of Bethlehem.1
Thus, unite yourself with the Heart of Jesus, participate in his desires and aspirations. The true Bride makes hers the interests of the Bridegroom, she feels in herself that which Jesus feels, seeks, loves and wants. Oh, how intimate one becomes with the Divine Savior! The whole life is spent in union with him.
In the Orient, the Sisters are called Marys, because the people understand how a religious should continue and accomplish in the world, the mission which the Most Blessed Virgin Mary had, no other than the aims of Jesus.
Your mission is united to Mary's mission. As a consequence, you are placed in the most beautiful, meritorious condition that could ever be desired in this life. You are other Marys! Enter more and more in this spirit.
We often recite the prayer, Divine Heart of Jesus...1 to remember and to repeat that we offer everything to the Lord with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The pictures that show the two Hearts united into one are very nice.
When Jesus was on his way to Calvary carrying the cross, he met his Mother. Oh, what a torment! Jesus, martyr in the body, Mary, martyr in the soul. On Calvary, two victims, two altars, a single offering, consummated on the altar of the Cross and on the altar of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin.
You are called Mary and you feel exalted having this name.1 Are you worthy? Are you really a Mary? Oh, the beautiful thing that the Lord did for you! He gave you, exactly to you, the grace to continue the mission of Our Lady in the same spirit, in union with Her. It is your turn to speak to the Heavenly Father of the interests of Jesus, to understand the palpitations of that Divine Heart. Oh, if you weren't only 400, but 4,000, 40,000, 400,000!
An invitation: there are 400,000 Priests in the world,1 which means that in every minute, there are from 4 to 5 consecrations on earth. What treasure to unite yourselves to all! Live the Holy Mass with Jesus immolated, Jesus Divine Lamb, slained and living!2 Oh, if you would understand this, how joyful your life would be, how pious, effective, meritorious! How much help you could bring to souls, to the whole world!
1 Lk. 15, 10 and 7.
1 Mt. 9, 13.
2 Cf. Lk. 15, 10 and 7.
3 Cf. Lk. 15, 29-30.
1 Mt. 26, 41.
2 Cf. Lk. 22, 61.
1 Mt. 9,13.
2 Cf. Lk. 23, 43.
3 Cf. Jn. 21, 15-17.
4 Cf Lc 8,47-48.
1 Lk. 6, 12.
1 Cf. 1Tm 2, 4.
1 Roschini Gabriel Maria, of the Servants of Mary (1900-1977), mariologist.
1 Association of the “Apostolate of Prayer.” Cf. Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 1, 1676-1678.
1 Cf. Lk. 2, 14.
1 Cf. The Prayers of the Pauline Family, p. 17.
1 In March 1940 was introduced in the rite of the first Profession that which is expressed in art. 126 of the present Directory: “At the time of religious profession, the Pious Disciples place the name of Mary before their religious name.”
1 Statistics of 1947.
2 Cf. Rv. 5, 12.