GOD, MODEL OF THE APOSTLE WRITERTo not fall short in one's duty as a press apostle to give the true in doctrine, the good in morals and the beautiful in appearance, does not mean one has to write always about religion. One needs, however, to write always in a Christian way; this is possible for every Christian writer.
The apostle, however, has to go further. His specific mission is to continue in time and space the work of God who is the author of Holy Scripture.
God is thus the model. The Bible is God's long letter addressed to human beings, calling them to heaven. Now the Bible has an attribute all
its own; it is God's book. It embodies the laws to be practiced and the truths to be believed; it indicates, reveals and prepares the means of grace in order to believe and to act as God's children so as to reach the goal. It is, in other words, way, truth and life for human beings.
So too must be the writings of the apostle.
The apostle's writings must be "Way"
If his writings are to be the true way that leads to Heaven, the apostle must model himself on the Bible. In other words, he must explore the same kind of issue, in the same way and with the same aim in mind.
The issues the Bible looks at are the truths regarding God and the soul - everything that has a supernatural character. Thus there is revealed and set out the work of God the Father, the work of God the Son, the work of God the Holy Spirit. As well there are the duties regarding the soul set out in the commandments, in the evangelical counsels, and in the virtues, from the simplest to the loftiest, and all the means of sanctification.
These and not other matters, must be the issues dealt with by the apostle writer.
How is he to deal with them? In the biblical way, that is, with that simplicity which hallmarks God's truth and style.
Let the apostle write then in that simple
style and manner of the holy books: a style that is polished, elegant even, but popular and clear. Unaffected simplicity, as instanced by the Divine Teacher who, consistent with his testimony, "I was sent to the poor", did not want the external apparatus of the professor's chair, of a school, of posture nor of lofty and abstruse forms of speech; what he wanted, contrariwise, was the maximum simplicity as regards place, audience, tone of voice, words, example and parable...
Eucharistic simplicity. The Eucharist is under the appearance of the most common of food. Yet it contains Jesus Christ, God and Man. Likewise must it be for the apostle of the press. In the simple format of a book or a news sheet, presented in an unpretentious way, he must give God's truth to men and women of all circumstances, in a form that is low-cost and readily accessible, just like bread. At times this will demand great sacrifice but let it be made generously for it is a sacrifice God himself invites us to take up.
Furthermore, the press apostle must resolve, in his writings, to have the same goal that God had in writing the Holy Book: God's glory and the salvation of people's souls.
God's glory; hence, not one's own satisfaction, not riches, not honor, but the salvation of people's souls, all of them, because it is a matter of faith that God wills to save all: "Deus vult omnes homines salvos
fieri",1 and in this his effective will God has addressed a letter to all his sons and daughters inviting them to heaven.
The apostle's writings must be "Truth"
It is not the aim of the press apostle to draft scientific or literary works, as such; nor to spread his own or other people's ideas. His exclusive aim is to spread God's revealed truths as given to us by the Church, and what leads to these truths or complements them. He does this either by increasing the editions of the Bible itself or by a commentary, an explanation or a summary of the truths contained in it.
It follows that he will have to learn God's language in order to instill it into his works. These will be effective to the degree that he speaks of God and not of himself for, as the Apostle states: "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden."2
A wonderful adornment
in an editorial office is a picture of the Evangelists; the best sign and object of veneration is the Gospel opened at the words "Semen est verbum Dei";3 the most precious reference book is a Bible with an extensive commentary by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
But this is still not enough. If the writer is to instill knowledge of God's book he himself must have a full grasp of its content! Such mastery will be the result of his making the Bible his daily reading and meditation under the guidance of the Church. Such reading is not simply a pastime, it is not an oddity; it is made with that filial fondness for listening to and emulating wholeheartedly his Father in heaven. The writer must be like the Church Fathers, the desert Fathers, and the Saints. He is to be found on his knees, submissive in spirit, his will firmly established in obedience, buoyed by the hope of God's kingdom and his glory, which he will manifest in his own self and in his relations with the world.
His mind will then gradually acquire such perceptive and marvelous knowledge of the adorable word of God that he will unconsciously instill it into his writings.
God's book will aid the apostle as spiritual reading, as a means of recollection and uplift in his Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, as his main book of meditation,
as God's revealed word to be consulted in all his needs - spiritual, apostolic and social.
Here there are no particular rules. But for those who want to follow an order, the best way is to follow that of the Liturgy and the Roman Breviary, dividing the matter in such a way that the Bible can be read over the period of a year.
Those who [already] recite the Divine Office [Breviary] will in this way find a support; those who do not will experience the particular benefit of being linked, by means of this spiritual reading, to the Church's public prayer.
All will learn from God himself the way to write in view [of the needs] of people's souls.
The apostle's writings must be "Life"
When the Fathers and Doctors of the Church read the Holy Scripture they received insight and enlightenment for their own sanctification and that of others. Through the reading of the Bible Saint Anthony the Abbot, Saint Augustine, Saint Benedict, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Ignatius... changed their lifestyle and reached the peak of perfection. Reading God's Book, the saints and ordinary people too found spiritual light and strength. This is because the Bible contains a divine power which comes from God,
its principal author, as well as from the holiness of its content, from the purpose for which it was written and from the intercession of the Church, the guardian of God's word.
But the writings of the press apostle too, inasmuch as they are an extension of God's work, must move the hearts of people and make them holy. Otherwise the press apostle would not achieve his purpose.
But how can the work of a human being achieve such a thing?
An example may help. The Sacraments, the Sacramentals and prayer have effectiveness inasmuch as they originate on Calvary and the more they draw from this divine source, the more efficacy they have.
Through the press apostolate, books, periodicals, and other publications acquire effectiveness in virtue of the Bible, the preaching of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. The more they draw from, adhere to, depend on, reproduce, show devotion to and apply the Bible, and the Gospel in particular, the greater will be their effectiveness.
The apostle will achieve this if, for his part, besides his daily reading and meditation of the Bible, he knows how to act before God as did the hagiographers. They relied not on their own strength but on God's; they focused not on secondary goals but on God, and on his glory and the spiritual good of all men and women.
A spirit of prayer and an upright intention are necessary conditions for God's grace - conditions that declare the apostle's program: "I count on God; I am focused on God." It is a program that accords with justice, truth and order because it acknowledges and proclaims who God is and who human beings are.
Philosophy and theology, ascetics and experience, the Church and Councils are all in agreement in proclaiming this principle.
Let prayer therefore precede, accompany and follow up the apostolate. Let the apostle make his own the prayer of Jesus, "ut cognoscant te et quem misisti Jesum Christum"4 and he will thus share in the eternally saving efficacy of the same.
Let an upright intention be the determining and guiding factor in writing, printing and distribution. But there is still one more thing. The apostle must add something of his own - loving zeal.
The driving force behind God's giving human beings his ineffable gift of Holy Scripture was love: "Deus qui amas animas."5 This same love must be the driving force behind the apostle's writing: "It was love that moved me to speak." Love of God that makes God become the hub of his being: of his mind with frequent thoughts about God, of his will by his submission to God's desires, of
his feeling by eliminating from his heart any affection that is not directed to God and to people's souls. Love of neighbor that leads to complete sacrifice of self whereby, with the Apostle, he can say to those entrusted to him: "I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you the more, am I to be loved the less?"6
Awash with this love, endowed with the right intention, strengthened by prayer, and steeped in Scripture, the apostle will be able to take up his editorial task confident that his writings, like the Holy Book, will succeed in being light, guide and support for people; or, in other words, be for them, way, truth and life.
1 * Cf. 1 Tim 2:3-4: "God... who desires all men to be saved [and to come to the knowledge of the truth]."
2 Heb 4:12f.
3 Lk 8:11. * "The seed is the word of God."
4 Cf. Jn 17:3. * "That they may know thee... and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
5 * Cf. Wis 11:26: "Thou sparest all things, for they are thine, O Lord who lovest the living."
6 2 Cor 12:15.