Our Pallottine Prayer Book in its Vigil Prayer for January 22nd refers to St Vincent Pallotti, as ‘the tireless apostle.’ The Prayer also notes that Pallotti ‘gave us the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ as our Fundamental Rule.’
In glancing through Vita Consecrata, the 1996 Apostolic Exhortation of Pope St John Paul II, in looking to the future, paragraph 110, he advises one to “be always ready, faithful to Christ, the Church, to your Institute and to the men and women of our time.” He earlier states in paragraph 11 that Societies of Apostolic Life have ‘produced fruits of holiness and of the apostolate, especially in the field of charity and in the spread of the Gospel in the Missions.”
It is important to note the order which St Pope John Paul II deliberately writes. ‘Faithful to Christ’ is first. This is achieved through prayer, by spending time with Christ. It is the Spiritual Formation, which Fr Reginald Temu refers to in his book, based on his doctoral work, pp.160-164.
Our very title, Society of the Catholic Apostolate acknowledges immediately the importance of ‘our work/ our apostolate’. It is important that we realise the fact that my particular present apostolate is not ‘my’ work but rather is part of the work of the Local Community, Delegature, Province to which we belong. There is the ever-present danger of defining ourselves by what we ‘do’ rather than who ‘we are.’ Often, we list the many differing ‘works’ of St Vincent Pallotti, but he himself stated that ‘the first apostolate is prayer.’ This is important for all of us to not only remember but to practice.
Both St Vincent Pallotti and Jesus took time to pray. That is clear both in Scripture and in the writings of our Founder- his retreats in Camaldoli for example. We read that the disciples ‘watched’ Jesus in prayer. They did not pray ‘with’ Him, but rather they observed Him. This I always find interesting. It shows the importance of passivity in prayer, of just being there with Jesus, watching Him.
The way we pray, is particular to each individual. There are certain shared practices but what is most important is that we pray, and persevere in prayer. By persevering we imitate both Jesus Himself, and St Vincent Pallotti. “The first missionary duty of consecrated persons is to themselves, and they fulfil it by opening their hearts to the promptings of the Spirit and of Christ.” (VC 25)
In imitating both Christ and St Vincent we can celebrate Founder’s Day on this and every day. In this way we are enabled to daily live out our Consecration, where, “we resolve to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Liam McClarey SAC