CHARACTERISTIC OF THE PUBLISHING APOSTOLATEThe publishing apostolate has its own distinctive characteristic, which we can describe as being pastoral, both in substance and in style.
Pastoral work is the divine art of governing people's souls. It is to shepherd them, that is, to guide them to the salutary pastures of the truth and to the sources of supernatural life by way of the straight path of Christian holiness.
This was Jesus' God-given task; this is the task that the Teacher handed on and entrusted to his Shepherds: "As the Father sent me, so am I sending you."1
This, and not otherwise, is the great work of the priest, whether he preaches from the pulpit, or whether he preaches by means of a news sheet, a book, a film or a microphone. So let him therefore use this publishing tool, for God's minister has a sole office, a sole teaching, and a sole program: "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle."2
The substance of the publishing apostolate, in other words, the content that it presents through its productions, must first of all be pastoral.
Here the Church is a Teacher. She, who is the depository of sacred doctrine, is also the altrice3 of all human knowledge, since all human learning and the arts are in some way enlightened by revelation. Thus the Church is supremely placed in the field of knowledge. But her concern and her basic role is to point the way to heaven; and therefore to instruct people in the truths of the Christian faith, morals and worship.
In the footsteps of the Church and following her directives, the publishing apostle will take an interest in the sciences and the arts only insofar as they help him to achieve his specific goal, in the way the missionary
attends to them so as to more easily achieve the conversion of the heathens.
His main concern is not therefore to give readers the most recent news, nor to deal directly with matters political, financial, agricultural, literary, and so on, but only to the extent that they can open the way to Christian thought, save people from being led astray and because they too can and must be sanctified with Christian thought.
He is, instead, first of all to communicate sacred doctrine either setting it out in a direct catechetical or scientific manner by taking divine truth as the basis, background and content of every task and methodically applying it to the Christian life - individual, family, social and international; or by taking as his basis, background and content the liturgical life that the Church lives out in the course of the ecclesiastical year; he can then deduce the truths, the precepts and the means of grace from the feasts, the Gospels and the Epistles, as well as from the development of worship, and set them out in a way that the people are able to understand.
Or he can take as his basis, background and content the life of the Church down through the ages. He can thus apply the doctrines that Popes, Bishops and Priests teach; be a guide and often the advance scout in the struggle that this city of God sustains against the city of the devil; defend morals, doctrine and worship against enemy
attack; spread and distribute throughout the whole world the treasures that Mother Church has the office of apportioning to people.
Or by applying Catholic doctrine to the political, economic, social, scientific and moral issues that come to the fore with every new age.
In the first two ways the publishing apostle can rely on a doctrinal basis and material evidence; in the third, on a method that is historical and doctrinal.
The press apostolate must also be pastoral in the presentation of the subject matter. It must be aimed at all the faculties of a human being: mind, will, and feeling, so that all three are nurtured with God's gifts, with God himself, in order that the human person may be given a God-like transformation.
The whole human being must give glory to God in a suitable way: all of a human being's powers must submit and render to God complete and wise homage, "discerning homage."4
The mind must pay due homage to God. The Divine Teacher said: "haec est vita aeterna; ut cognoscant Te (Pater) et quem misisti Jesum Christum."5 Thus he himself "Bonus Pastor" did not cease to teach in
every way "aperiens os suum docebat: beati pauperes spiritu..."6
The will: "Si vis ad vitam ingredi serva mandata."7 The will must be enlightened, prodded to duty by the example of the Divine Teacher, perfect exemplar; by the good example of the saints and of all who have beaten a track to heaven: "For the gate is wide that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many; the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few."8 Force yourself.
To God, our feelings, our heart! May the life of God, namely, the grace of God pervade it completely and transform it into Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Three passions beset human beings: "Omne quod est in mundo concupiscentia carnis, concupiscentia oculorum, superbia vitæ."9 They must instead be substituted by purity, by the spirit of poverty and by a lowly heart.
Let the apostle aim for all this.
1 Jn 20:21.
2 Gen 14:21. * The text of scripture reads: "The king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give me the persons, but take the goods yourself.'" In the tradition of Christian ascesis the expression has come to mean: "Guarantee the salvation of people's souls; keep the rest."
3 * Nourisher, nurse.
4 Rom 12:1.
5 Jn 17:3. * "This is eternal life: that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
6 Mt 5:2-3. * "He opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit...' "
7 Mt 19:17. * "If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
8 Mt 7:13-14.
9 1 Jn 2:16. * "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world."