Updated: Jan 25
Last week I started writing about spiritual journeys and spiritual progress. I used the journeys of St. Paul as a jumping-off point. In his journeys, Paul found out that (1) The journey to spiritual progress is a long trip with many stops. (2) The journey to spiritual progress is hard. “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. (3) If you don’t know this and if you aren’t ready to accept this, you’re in the wrong church.
I introduced Gretchen Filz. She is a Lay Dominican, author, blogger, and journalist. Fitz was reflecting on some of the challenges that have faced the church over the past decades. She bases her thoughts on the reading of the classic spiritual book, The Soul of the Apostolate. The book was written in 1946 by Trappist abbot Jean-Baptiste Chautard. She writes that “The present scandals in the Church have many people looking for positive solutions to the multifaceted problems which beset the Bride of Christ.”
Fred Sanders is another Catholic writer. He is a theologian who also tries to pull some insights from Chautard’s book. He offers a warning to those who would begin a flurry of activity to address these issues.
What is an apostolate? It is an activity that imitates the work of the Apostles. ”It involves action, activity, projects, plans, organizations, and active work in all parts of the world. It means an organization for spreading the gospel and Christian influence in the world. This especially includes organization by laypeople.”
Sanders continues: Yet, Chautard's book is not about the apostolate. It is not about the activity itself. It’s about the soul of the apostolate. It’s about the inner life of this outer work. Christians who are busy in the outer world need a rich, inner spiritual life to sustain them. If you hope to transmit supernatural life, this cannot be done by merely natural means.
He says that Chaurard’s entire book can almost be summarized by the phrase, “The Heresy of Trying to do Good Works!” This heresy is the feverish activity taking the place of God. Grace is ignored. Human pride tries to thrust Jesus from His throne. Supernatural life, the power of prayer, and the economy of our redemption are relegated to the realm of pure theory. The book attempts a diagnosis of the soul. It shows that, in our secular age, men judge by appearances. They act as though success were primarily a matter of skillful organization.
The very principle of life then vanishes from this busy activity. It is nothing but graceless and morbid hyperactivity for Jesus. People talk and scheme and plan. “One might imagine that God Almighty… cannot get along without their cooperation.” Chautard calls them “activistic heretics.” He says “we can almost hear them say, ‘God finds me pretty useful.’”
Filz wrote about how people dive into this frenetic activity. They don't realize "that the true solution will only come from Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, His life within us, and fidelity to His teachings.”
People are busy. Many of us are too busy. This is not healthy. There must be harmony between the active life and the interior life. Saint Bernard explains this balance using the very interesting metaphor of the reservoir and the channel. “The channels let the water flow away, and do not retain a drop. But the reservoir is first filled, and then without emptying itself, pours out its overflow, which is ever renewed. We have many channels in the Church today, “Saint Bernard added sadly,” but very few reservoirs.” (Sanders)
There are modern applications of the principles found in the Soul of the Apostolate. Doran Oancia serves as Chief Operating Officer of West Edge. West Edge is an energy company. It transports, stores, and distributes refined petroleum products. Oancia has worked as an executive for other energy corporations. They include Strad Energy Services, and NGL Water Solutions (formerly High Sierra). He studied at Queen’s University, the University of Saskatchewan, and Heriot-Wat University (Scotland).
Doran hosts the Executive Disciple podcast. Executive Disciple asks, “Are you living an “integrated life, or struggling to overcome a “divided life?” How do today’s leaders reconnect Sunday and Monday? In his podcasts, Doran brings in powerful and engaging guests to discuss various topics. They include themes such as the Integral Formation of the Whole Person, the vocation of the business person, and practical approaches in moving from SUCCESS….. to SIGNIFICANCE.
He recently had two podcasts with Monsignor James Shea. Monsignor Shea is the President of the University of Mary. It is an affordable, private, Catholic college in North Dakota. Monsignor pulled a page from Chautard’s book by asking three questions:
- What am I working FOR?
- What am I RESTING in?
- What am I LIVING for?
These three questions affect our entire lives, and yet, have we stopped to reflect on them? In Episode 1, Shea and Oancia talked about the meaning of work as a vocation. They discussed the problems with our North American understanding of work. They focused on how getting Sunday right connects to getting Monday right. They asked, "How can we begin to understand a higher calling for our lives? How can we work in harmony with God’s plan for our lives?
In Episode 2, the two men ask, “Am I CHASING THE BLESSING?” In this beautiful and powerful conclusion of the interview, Monsignor Shea and Oancia reflected on the “higher calling” of work. It is a VOCATION, not just a job, or career. Leisure is a form of CONTEMPLATION, and not merely amusement. Our work is not about what we do. It’s about who we become. This attitude and approach affect the INTEGRATION of the two.
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St. Malachy’s Catholic Church
1429 N. 11th St Phila. Pa 19122
Holy Hour with Music
The Lord’s Mercy & Healing
On the following Dates
Jan. 29th, Feb. 18th, March 18th,
April 15th & May 20th
Social to follow.
St. Blaise was a Bishop of the early Church who had a great story of grace.
Saturday (2/4) & Sunday (2/5) the Church has the tradition of blessing throats and seeking God's intercession for our health. Fr. Charles Zlock will be blessing throats that weekend after all Masses. Join us!
Reflect, Renew& Restore
Cranaleith Spiritual Center
13475 Proctor Rd,
Phila. Pa 19116
Gaelic for “sanctuary of trees,” Cranaleith offers serene and rejuvenating space to those who wish to reflect on what matters deeply in their lives, renew their spirit for life and work, or restore themselves from life’s traumas. Individuals and groups are invited to participate in retreats and other programs offered in a spirit-rekindling environment of well-being, respect, and harmony. Cranaleith is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. For program, information log on to
1/17/23 Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot
St. Anthony the Abbot also known as Anthony the Great was from Egypt, and a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers. The biography of Anthony’s life helped to spread the concept of monasticism, particularly in Western Europe through Latin translations. He was the first known ascetic to go into the wilderness. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his time in the Libyan Desert inspired the “Temptation of St. Anthony” in Western art and literature. Most of what is known about St. Anthony comes from the “Life of Anthony”, written in Greek around 360 by Athanasius of Alexandria. It depicts Anthony as an illiterate and holy man who through his existence in a primitive landscape has an absolute connection to the divine truth. He was born in Coma, in Lower Egypt to a wealthy landowner. At age eighteen his parents died and left him in the care of his unmarried sister. He took the words of Jesus to heart, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow me”. He sold everything, gave it to the poor, and placed his sister into a group of nuns.
He decided to follow the tradition of the hermits and headed out into the Alkaline Nitrian Desert region about 60 miles west of Alexandria. He remained there for thirteen years. He was notably the first acestic to attempt living in the desert proper, completely cut off from civilization. He is called the father of monasticism because he inspired hundreds of men and women to move into the depths of the desert, some organized into small communities. It is said when he passed, he requested to be placed in an unmarked grave.
St. Agnes of Rome was born in 291 AD and raised in a Christian family. Agnes was very beautiful and belonged to a wealthy family. Her hand in marriage was highly sought after, and she had many high-ranking men chasing after her. However, Agnes made a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord was great and she hated sin even more than death! – Whenever a man wished to marry Agnes, she would always say, “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.” According to legend, the young men she turned away became so angry and insulted by her devotion to God and purity that they began to submit her name to authorities as a Christian follower. In great anger, [suitor] Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. The Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy. Next, he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. “I would offend my Spouse,” she said, “if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death stroke of the sword. She died a virgin martyr at the age of 12 or 13 on 21 January 304.
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
Congress XIII (2023)
Announcing the Congress Theme — “Write the Vision:
A Prophetic Call to Thrive”
July 20-23, 2023
The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745 https://nbccongress.org
Permanent Deacon of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia assigned to St. Athanasius Parish located in West Oak Lane. Deacon James was ordained on June 6, 2004. He is responsible for teaching the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and instructing a bible study class at St. Athanasius Parish. He is currently employed as the Associate Director of the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in East Germantown. He is also an instructor in Homiletics for the Permanent Diaconate Program of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Attention! Attention! Men of St. Raymond Save the Date March 4, 2023
15th Annual Man UpPhilly
March 4, 2023
Join other Brothers in Christ for
this special experience and stand
united as true Men of God.
Cardinal O’Hara, High School
St John Vianney Hall Theater.
1701 S. Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064
His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
Deacon James Mahoney
St. Athanasius Parish
Assoc. Director Miraculous Medal Shrine
Producer, Writer, Film Director
and Catholic Revert
Music By Mark Forrest, (Irish Tenor)
Archbishop Nelson Perez,
To register for this event contact
Arleen Daniels at 215-549-3760
January 20th, 2023
6:30 AM-6:30 PM
Event: March for Life Bus Trip
Preparations are underway for the 50th Annual March for Life--the first ever in a Pounderwayst-Roe world! This will be a year of celebration for all involved in the Pro-Life Movement.
Cost: $30.00 for transportation; Tickets must be purchased in advance. Mail payment to Holy Martyrs Pro-Life March, 120 Allison Road, Oreland, PA. 19075
Location: Holy Martyrs Catholic Church parking lot, Oreland
More information: Any questions call Chris Napiecek at 215.913.6410
This event seeks to raise awareness among elected officials that every life matters, especially that of the unborn child. We gather that day because it was January 22, 1972, that the US Supreme Court rendered its decision in Roe v. Wade which made it legal to kill a child throughout the 9 months of pregnancy. God have mercy on our nation!