THE PROMOTERIf by "promoter" we were to mean merely a distributor, then promotion would be a relatively easy and simple task.
But the promoter apostle is not merely a distributor! For him, instead, promotion is the practical way to bring the word of truth and salvation to all people, and in a way that is adapted to the particular needs of each person.
But such adaptation presents its own difficulties! One thing is the needs of a child, another those of the adolescent, young people, the adult. An educated person has different needs to those of ordinary folk. Professional people do not have the same tastes as the worker or farmer... Even the soul itself does not always have the same needs!
True, there is a sole truth for all. But then there is a sole human nature, but what a difference between one person and another! No two persons are perfectly equal. Likewise for the soul. All of us are created in God's image and likeness, all of us have the same beginning and end, the same means of salvation, but each one of us has tendencies and particular needs which vary according to age and circumstance.
The promoter should intuit and meet these needs with the appropriate book or leaflet. All this requires specific preparation, upright intention, tact and discernment.
This is the proximate preparation in view of promotion; it is in part theoretical and in part practical. While such preparation changes, depending on the people and the circumstances, there are some basic parts that are indispensable. First and foremost the promoter must have a great love of God, and be submissive to Church authorities.
A knowledge of the methods of promotion or, at least, of the main ones mentioned in this book.
A knowledge of the publications to be promoted, either through personal study or by means of book reviews.
A knowledge of civil and ecclesiastical laws that directly or indirectly regard the work of promotion.
A knowledge of the particular environment where the promoter has to undertake his activity and the practical means suggested by experience.
Practical training under the guidance of seasoned promoters.
Natural or acquired aptitude that leads to complete dedication: a cheerful, happy and selfless nature.
Docility that leads to filial trust in one's legitimate Superiors and the utmost fidelity to their directives.
A good and specific preparation understood in this sense will round off the promoter's natural gifts; these he must then raise to the supernatural level, for they act as a ladder for him to reach the Creator and are a fruitful means of apostolate.
It may happen at times that such preparation is not possible or that in the exercise of the apostolate unforeseen cases arise. He will then, first of all, entrust the matter to the Lord, confident that he, in his power, can make use of things that are not to bring to naught things that are [cf. 1 Cor 1:27].
Consistent with his lofty mission and in fidelity to it the apostle will not use promotion as a means to dispose of warehouse stock, to accumulate wealth, to satisfy his own or others' ambition, to keep the public happy, or even for such a noble purpose as would be, for example, to procure new means for the apostolate.
The apostle's first and sole goal must be the glory of God and the spiritual good of people. All the rest, works and initiatives, are in view of this ultimate goal.
Among books to be promoted preference is to go to the sacred sciences: Holy Scripture, works of the Fathers, Doctors of the Church and Church writers, Theology, Liturgy, Lives of the Saints, religious culture and all that speaks to people about God, their first cause and final end. Secular books are to be considered only insofar as they serve the specific goal of the apostolate. This holds true even if there are several requests, as happens, for example, in the field of light reading.
Among readers, the option is for the lost sheep who is wandering in the hills to the ninety-nine who are safe in the fold; for those far from God, the Church and their pastors to those who are practicing; for non-believers to believers.
The promoter is to face up to difficulties, lack of success, and hard work with apostolic courage, always ready to declare with the Apostle of the Gentiles: "What will separate me from the love of Christ?"1
To sum up: what he needs is that upright intention that does not confuse apostolate with business but sanctifies it through charity, prayer, trust and surrender to God.
A promoter, thus motivated, loves and prefers his apostolate - so broad-based, so hidden and so lacking in satisfaction - to any number of other apostolates!
When timely, he is to guide readers in their choice of book, magazine and newspaper. He is to be meticulous in this, as if the outcome depended exclusively on that choice, while encouraging the reader to trust in God, who alone has the power to change words into a source of grace.
When he is tempted to think that the leaflet will be thrown away, or that the book taken more as a favor to him will not be read beyond the first few pages and that his efforts will, most times, be futile, then his upright intention, strengthened by trust in God, will sustain him. In any case, let him remember that God sees, notes and rewards everything and that, when no impediments are placed in the way, God can cause a few lines to open
a person's mind and lead to his or her salvation and sanctification.
Tact and discernment
If the leaflet and the book are to be truly a word of life they must reflect the particular needs of the people to whom they are offered. As a general rule, if the promoter is to achieve this, he must know the needs, the sufferings and the desires of a person's soul.
It is true that we cannot know or see a person's soul. Only God can. Even when people speak to us and open their soul to us we cannot see it nor can we fully comprehend its inner mystery. Our only indirect contact with it is when we place a mute book in a person's hands.
But we do know that many holy people have had this supernatural expertise and that they have learnt it in their intimate colloquies with their Friend.
"Let the promoter ask God, the one Lord of souls, to grant light and grace to them, and the gift of counsel and wisdom to him. Thus he will learn how to approach them with that presence and supernatural tact that is acquired, at the foot of the altar, with the passing of the years and through suffering.
"The person who has not suffered, or ever recollected himself, the person who is unaccustomed through
meditation and reflection to examine and weigh up his own feelings, will not easily acquire such gifts.
"Flighty and thoughtless people, accustomed to judge things in a superficial way, will never be worthy to enter into the sanctuary of people's souls."2
1 Cf. Rom 8:35.
2 Voce che diffonde il regno di Cristo, G.C.I.G.F., Milan.