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The spiritual content of the Apostleship of Prayer (AP) and its formation program is presented as a school of the heart. In nine steps this pathway leads us to identify with the mind, heart and projects of Jesus. The Scripture and other quotations in each paragraph tell of God’s unlimited love for each one of us and for all humankind. In prayerful silence and in awe should they be received, for they speak of our history with Him. We are invited to live a personal love covenant with the Risen One, and to offer daily our readiness to collaborate with Him in his mission, as his apostles. We are put to the service of the Church and sent out to make God’s compassionate love present in the world. These pages intend to give a unified vision of the AP and of its interior pathway, inviting us to be part of this worldwide prayer network.
The first and most enduring word in our life of faith is the Father’s everlasting love. This is what he is continuously saying to us and what we fathom in all he does for us each day: I love you. It is his essence, “God is love” (1 John 4:8); he cannot not love us. LOVE is the way in which the Lord looks at us always, regardless of the course our life has taken--even if we have strayed away from him because of our sin. His love is unconditional and notwithstanding. It is the principle and the foundation of our spiritual way. Our life starts by his love, is sustained by it, and one day will be received by that love. To acknowledge his love gives us the chance to love him in return.
We yearn for happiness and seek it in a multitude of ways. God gave us the capacity to love and to live generously. But many times we feel poor and lost, burdened with frustrations and deep desires, unable to solve our personal crisis and find inner peace. A pathway of faith, prayer and life for seekers, for those in spiritual need and for all who desire to receive Jesus Christ in their hearts is proposed here. It is the way of the humble, where our weakness of heart will not be a hindrance, but rather, our greatest asset, for the encounter with a God who leans toward the poor.
We contemplate in admiration the beauty of our world and the great deeds accomplished by the human mind throughout history. But the world we share is wounded by painful contradictions that cause death and suffering. Life and love are often suffocated by violence and selfishness. The weak and vulnerable are crushed by the boots of the powerful. Natural resources are depleted. There is too much sadness and loneliness. However, in the cry for peace and justice, we hear the Father’s voice calling us to return to him. We have walked away from the paths of the Lord and from his project for humanity.
The Father has not forsaken us in this broken world. He has spoken of his love many times and in various ways through the prophets, and now, in these final times he has spoken to us by his Son made man, Jesus, the Christ (cf. Hebrews 1:1). In Him, the Father has joined our history to his own history in order to restore creation and heal our wounded humanity. In Him, who gave his life for us and whom the Father rose from the dead, he has forgiven our sins. In Him, God’s passionate love comes forth, determined to save us. With Him we learn to recognize the Spirit of God working in this world, bringing forth something new, even in the midst of suffering and difficulties.
Jesus Christ calls us his friends and invites us to a personal and intimate covenant of love with him. He is alive to intercede for us, actively drawing us to him. He sees us as a precious treasure of his heart. Friendship with him will make us see the world with his eyes, we will be one with his joys and sufferings, and we will offer ourselves to work with him for our brothers and sisters. He is always with us and shall be until the end of age.
Out of his unlimited love for us, God desires to inhabit our hearts. Jesus left this surprising promise to his disciples before his death. He wants to dwell in each one of us. Saint Paul gives witness to this by saying it is no longer he, but Christ living in him. This is the ultimate horizon towards which the Spirit leads us in our life of faith. He seeks to conform the Christian to Christ in body, soul and spirit. We long for this, and we ask for this with a humble heart, knowing we will never accomplish it through our own efforts. We believe this conformation with Christ is given to us in a privileged way through the Eucharist. Christ gives himself to us through his Body and his Blood, molding our hearts to his own Heart, so we can be and act as Him.
To come closer to Christ leads us to give our lives for others, as He did. We learn that in spite of our weakness and limitations, our life is useful to others. Knowing ourselves loved, chosen, and inhabited by Him dignifies us, fills us with gratitude, and enables us to respond to so much good received by offering our own life in apostolic readiness. We offer it moving against our selfishness and laziness that make vain God’s work in us. He invites us to comply generously to his call, as did Mary of Nazareth. He does not want to save us or change the world without us. Even if I may consider my offering meaningless, it will be made useful to others because the Father joins it to the life and Heart of his Son, who laid down his life for us on the cross. We come closer to the world’s suffering as we are put with Jesus, and we will strive to respond as He did. We tell the Father our readiness to collaborate with his Son through a prayer of self offering. We are at the same time humbly praying to the Holy Spirit that we may cease to obstruct his work in us. Through the Eucharist we are inspired and nourished in a special way, for there we find the perfect offering of Christ to the Father and a model for our own life-offering.
God, the Father of Jesus and our Father, wishes to make his compassion present in the world in and through us, his disciples. We are invited to make our own the Father’s loving gaze upon humanity and to act with the Heart of Jesus Christ. We are sent out to the margins of human life in different ways, together with his Son. We are sent to the places where men and women are suffering injustice, to help heal and support the brokenhearted. Even if we are physically constrained or limited by illness, and even if we feel incapable of changing the unjust structures of society, we participate of this mission making ours God’s gaze of compassion towards our brothers and sisters. We can convey it to others, since we ourselves have been graced by God’s compassion. It is our way of giving love in return to his love for us (reparation). We go beyond the boundaries of the Church, for the Spirit of Jesus is where compassion is. Through both prayer and concrete actions, we can join people from different cultures and religious traditions, people open to this Spirit, and work to relieve the suffering of those most in need.
The Apostleship of Prayer is a worldwide prayer network to the service of the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. These intentions are seen as actual challenges for humanity and for the Church, as they express the Holy Father’s concerns in today’s world. We want them to orient our action and our prayer during that month.
This network is formed by those who make themselves available to collaborate in Christ’s mission through the daily offering of their lives, in any place or situation they may be. The call to the mission is the fire that makes us apostles sent from the heart of the Father to the heart of the world.
Among those first invited to be part of this network are Catholics from different countries and cultures, and from diverse spiritual families. The AP puts the richness of its diversity at the service of Church unity. Others are also invited to be in this network in different ways: the challenges implied in the Pope’s intentions open us to collaboration with other Christians and with all the other who work for greater love and justice in this world.