How can we understand the meaning of our lives? The life of a Christian makes sense as an apostolate: The Son of God has consecrated us and sent us to help build His kingdom.
Christ has consecrated some Christians to propose His Holy Name to people Who have never heard of Him, or barely. And the Lord has consecrated others to live relatively quiet lives, in a small circle, building up the kingdom by daily prayer and acts of kindness.
We have two heavenly patrons of missionary work: St. Francis Xavier, who went to India and Japan to preach the gospel, and St. Therese, who lived a short, hidden life in a convent. Both St. Francis and St. Therese made sense out of the lives in the same way: They had been consecrated by God for the apostolate, to serve the building of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Christians have no starting point for understanding reality other than Jesus Christ Himself. And He gives us an apostolate, which makes getting out of bed every day worthwhile.
Focusing on the idea of my life as an apostolate can help me resolve all kinds of questions, with relatively little difficulty. To start with: Do all ‘religions’ offer equally good paths to God? As far as I know, absolutely not. There’s only one Christ, one Savior, one Incarnate Word.
But: Should I try to convince people about Him using any methods other than those that He used? Namely, to choose to suffer rather than inflict suffering; to understand and empathize before speaking; to love all, and hope the best for all, and believe in the Father’s love for all. Of course I should use no other methods in my apostolate–only Christ’s methods. We apostles march gently beside the Prince of Peace, Who rode a little donkey, not a war stallion.
Does it matter what Christian “denomination” you are? As far as I know, it matters a very great deal. Did Jesus Christ Himself found the Thomas Road Baptist Church?
The Roman Catholic Church does not claim to be perfect in every respect. Far from it. She spent the twentieth century meditating very deeply about Herself, about who She is exactly, about what She possesses–and what She doesn’t possess.
One thing the Catholic Church does not possess is: A ready answer to every question or problem. She does not possess a divine mandate to govern everything about how we live our pilgrim lives.
Our Mother the Church, governed by St. Peter’s successor in office, possesses: 1. The faith of the apostles, expressed in our creeds. 2. The seven sacraments instituted by Christ Himself. 3. The rules God has given us to help us sort out right and wrong. 4. The prayers that we need to worship God and communicate with Him as He Himself has ordered us to do, for our own good.
Every Christian ought to have all these good things at his/her disposal. But how could anyone take good advantage of any of these rich endowments, unless someone—some apostle—offers them in a kind and sympathetic way? The Church’s divine gifts only bring about their good effects when people embrace them freely and sincerely.
Let’s march on, fellow apostles, beside the Lord! He makes our lives worth living, when we spend them for the good of those around us.