THE METHOD IN THE PUBLISHING APOSTOLATEIn the apostolate too it is helpful to follow a method - that is, a mix of principles, criteria and controls - which regulates how things are done. A method sets out the steps in view of the goal to be achieved.
In the publishing apostolate the method counseled is called "way, truth and life", based on the gospel trinomial. The apostle must study it, examine it in detail, follow it in his formation and employ it consequently in his apostolate.
We find the way to implement this method [applied] throughout the book. Here we shall set out its essence, its basic principles, its realizations and some practical rules.
The crux of the "way, truth and life" method is the principle that a human being has to cleave to God completely; in other words, to cling to God with all of his or her main faculties - will, intellect and feeling.
But how is this to be achieved in practice?
By following Jesus Christ, chosen by God as our Mediator of truth, holiness and grace: "Ego sum Via, Veritas et Vita."1 More precisely, by following this outline:
1. Follow Jesus Christ Way - walking in his steps (adherence of one's will).
2. Follow Jesus Christ Truth - listening to his doctrine (adherence of one's intellect).
3. Follow Jesus Christ Life - living in his love and in his grace (adherence of one's feeling and spirit).
Basing himself on this principle and keeping to this outline, the apostle will find the right way for his own formation and for the apostolate.
The method set out is based on both the natural order of human nature and on the supernatural order to which human nature is raised.
In the natural order - Since humans are a make-up of body and soul, they act and work by means of faculties - spiritual and sensory - proper to them, which specify their nature. Since these human powers are embedded in the one stock (human nature), they cannot but mutually depend on and influence one another in the development of the acts proper to them.
Thus the sole activity of the will or of the intellect or of feeling or of the senses is insufficient to explain the specific actions of human beings.2 All their powers must act in life-giving harmony in both the spiritual and the sensory order.
Just to limit ourselves to the spiritual faculties, the will, the intellect and feeling, we can say that the action of these three faculties or direct operating principles is wonderfully expressed in the gospel trinomial "way, truth and life". An example should suffice: I want to set out on a given road. It is the idea of the goal which, initially in the intention, is desired by the will. But I must first know the road in order to use the commensurate means. This is the reflection of the intellect. In order to walk then I need energy, strength, impetus and courage: this is feeling.
All this is logical and naturally ongoing. In human beings, moreover, the faculty that reigns supreme is the will. It commands the intellect, the feeling and the senses. The intellect, activated by the will, weighs up the suitability, the proportions, causal links and effectiveness of the means. Feeling, commanded by the will, applies itself, drives and attracts the vital operations and the senses grasp things in the sensory realm.
It is true that in the first (original) act of the will you cannot do without the light of the intellect, which indicates the goal, but in the comprehension of the goal it is the will, as an irrepressible and enlightened inclination, that reveals itself as the dominant force.
It is also true that feeling is inseparable from the activity of the will, of the intellect and also of sensitivity and sensibility, but this can be quite well understood as a specific activity in view of the realization of what the will, enlightened by the intellect and helped by the senses, wants to achieve.3
In the supernatural order - Here we have grace, a new principle of activities and life, which elevates the whole of human nature. Just as in the natural order the life-giving principle envelops the will and the intellect to sustain them in existence and in their operations, so in the supernatural order grace shapes the will and the intellect so that they can decide and operate in accord with their supernatural goal.
However, when grace shapes and elevates the whole of human nature, it effectively awakens energies which draw the will (while respecting its freedom) towards the goal and make the vision of natural and supernatural truth easier for the intellect; they help the intellect and the will to make acts of faith and resolutions, eliminating, as if by magic, so many impediments.
Even in human nature elevated to the supernatural order we can find the basis of the "way, truth and life" method. Here, too, humans act with their key faculties (intellect, will, feeling)4 which, although elevated by grace, do not cease to influence one another in the carrying out of their own acts.
In every field of human activity (speculative and practical, doctrinal and artistic...) and in every science (theological, philosophical, historical, biographical...) we find a realization of the gospel trinomial. We could cite any number of proofs but we shall limit ourselves to one or two:
In a human being's activities - "Primus in intentione est finis"5 is a well-known principle of philosophy. But the intention or finality is basically a tendency to an end-point (intellectually grasped); and the tendency is peculiar to the will, which follows a way to reach this end-point.
Scrutiny of the means proportionate to the goal follows: a reflection on the steps to take to make them increasingly conform6 to the goal; an examination on the link that exists between a thought and an act, between word and word, action and action; namely, scrutiny between cause and effect so that the will knows how to avoid the obstacles, resolve the difficulties, and be always enlightened in the way that opens up before it. This is the intellect's role, it is the will's light deriving from the truth.
When the will has chosen its goal and the intellect the proportionate means, a power is required to fulfill the resolution: this is the feeling or heart, symbol of life, and of what has more immediate likeness to life.
In the stages of a human life - When a child does something it is merely imitating what it sees, what it hears, what strikes it. The youngster, who begins to think, wants to know the reason for things as well as the relationship between effect and cause.
Life moves on until, in old age, a person acts under the impulse of feeling.
So, not counting the brief period of youth where heart and enthusiasm seem to prevail, there are three progressive periods, characterized by imitation (way) in childhood; reflection (truth) in adulthood; feeling (life) in old age.
In study and in activity, which has an intellectual overtone, the progressive realization of the trinomial is verified! You read a page: the first glance consists in following (imitating) a writer's intellectual journey. Then you examine the correlation between the sentences and arguments. Lastly you absorb the ideas and make the thinking your own, a part of your life to which you lovingly adhere.
In a meditation or sermon: to read or to listen is simply to follow the way marked out by someone outside of us.
Reflection follows: examination on the proportionality of (good or bad) effects in relation
to the causes; you consider whether the means are commensurate with a realistic following of the way indicated. Then comes an interior assimilation, so that, by means of an act of fervor, you make the matters reflected on your own, come alive in you. Convictions then become assimilated reality (life) which will then be developed into single acts which become possible because the tendency (aim) of the will and the convictions of the mind have assumed their own life.
Hence we can also explain the value that Christian doctrine attributes to the intention, disregarding whether it is actually implemented: the intention creates because it is productive, because it becomes the soul's life.
In a syllogism the categorical enunciation of the major is like a condition established by the will, a command. In the minor the mind reflects on the command of the will, analyzes the notion of the middle term, in examining whether to accept or not the subject of the minor. The total assimilation of the two judgments closes in the synthesis of the conclusion, which becomes a living cell in the body of knowledge.
The examples mentioned and countless others which could be mentioned show how the "way, truth and life" method is organic, logical, clear and precise; not only, but that it can have indefinite applications because it touches on the specific make-up of the human being.
Following the method set out, the apostle will find it easy to cleave to God completely and to become, like Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life for people.
In practical terms, however, he should not become a slave to his method; he should be flexible in adapting to the circumstances and be open to the opinion that sees the will as the faculty that reigns supreme, or to the one that grants this to the intellect, for if it is true that the will is the queen of human faculties, it is likewise true that the intellect has a certain preeminence as regards the act. As a matter of fact, it is the idea that inclines to the act, the act then excites the feeling and the feeling strengthens the idea and reinforces the act.
1 Jn 14:6. * "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."
2 In practice the action is attributed to one or other faculty because every activity has a particular quality given it by the faculty which dominates.
3 Feeling, also called by others "pius affectus voluntatis", in its "affection", regulates the activities that deepen, support and make spiritual love effective. Considered then as a faculty not only in the spiritual sense, but also in the sensory sense, it is called heart. Even if this is for convenience sake it does have a legitimate symbolism, based on the role of the heart as the body's center which transmits blood (symbol of life and nourishment). It is also rightly called life since it reacts to issues, symbolizes love and, through love, life which is a communication of goodness. This holds good not only in the natural order, but also in the supernatural order, where the communication of goodness is equal to communication of grace, life of the soul.
4 Feeling, also called heart (elevated by grace), not only symbolizes love and life but is shaped by grace, a new life-giving principle that God communicates to human beings.
5 * "The goal is first in the intention."
6 * The Italian text reads: consentanei = conformi, corrispondenti.