Question: What happens when a group of impatient Jesuit Scholastics, desperate to be sent to the mission fields, experience frustration with what seem like endless philosophical and theological studies? Answer: They establish a worldwide network of prayer enabling millions of people to offer their lives to the Lord and for the intentions of the Holy Father.
Well, at least that’s what happened in the 1840s! At a place called Vals in France, a spiritual director, Fr. Gautrelet SJ urged his students to be missionaries by doing God’s will TODAY. “Be apostles now, apostles of prayer! Offer everything you are doing each day in union with the Heart of our Lord for what he wishes: the spread of the Kingdom for the salvation of souls.” Gautrelet suggested that each morning, they offer the day to God. Their prayer, study, work, recreation, headaches would advance the work of the missions as much as their direct work in the field. The scholastics took this idea of a “Daily Offering” to surrounding villages, and thus the “Apostleship of Prayer” was born. Today the Pope uses the Apostleship to spread his monthly prayer intentions to the entire Church.
I must confess that until a week ago, I had only the vaguest awareness of the Apostleship of Prayer. But last Wednesday the novitiate spent a charming day visiting our Jesuit schools of Mount St. Mary’s and Barlborough Hall, both near Sheffield. Based at the Mount is Fr. Michael Beattie SJ who is the British Province’s Apostleship of Prayer promoter. Drawing on his experience of travelling around parishes giving talks, Fr. Beattie explained to us that the Daily Offering is an excellent way to introduce a “seeing God in all things” approach to people who lead hectic lives. He recommends that people complement the Daily Offering with a short review in the evening, thus introducing them to the riches of the Examen. For me, the effectiveness of the Daily Offering lies in the beauty of its simplicity. It’s easy to explain, doesn’t take much time, and has enormous potential to lead people to an awareness of God working in their lives. As Fr. Beattie pointed out it should be a resource in the toolkit of every Jesuit (and I suppose every Ignatian practitioner).
More information on the Apostleship of Prayer, as well as the Pope’s monthly intentions can be found at http://www.apostleshipofprayer.net