HomeQuestions & AnswersWhat does apostolate mean? Who are apostles today?
Questions & Answers

What does apostolate mean? Who are apostles today?

Tags: Joy, Apostolate, Eucharist, Gospel, Evangelization
Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41). The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him “because of the woman’s testimony” (Jn 4:39). So too, Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, “immediately proclaimed Jesus” (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21). So what are we waiting for?
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 120.

Don't you long to shout to those young men and women all around you: Fools, leave those worldly things that shackle the heart and very often degrade it..., leave all that and come with us in search of Love? <i>The Way</i>, 790
Don't you long to shout to those young men and women all around you: Fools, leave those worldly things that shackle the heart and very often degrade it..., leave all that and come with us in search of Love? The Way, 790
1. What is apostolate?
The Greek word apostoloi means “emissaries”, those who are sent on behalf of another. It refers to the call made by Jesus Christ to his apostles to continue his own mission: announce the Kingdom of God throughout the world. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (Jn 20:21; cf. Jn 13:20; 17, 18); “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20); “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1).
All Christians, by the very nature of the Christian vocation, are called to propagate the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 858, 859, 863


Contemplating the mystery
An apostle – that is what Christians are, when we know that we have been grafted onto Christ, made one with Christ, in baptism. We have been given the capacity to carry on the battle in Christ's name, through confirmation. We have been called to serve God by our activity in the world, because of the common priesthood of the faithful, which makes us share in some way in the priesthood of Christ. This priesthood – though essentially distinct from the ministerial priesthood – gives us the capacity to take part in the worship of the Church and to help others in their journey to God, with the witness of our word and our example, through our prayer and work of atonement.
Each of us is to be ipse Christus: Christ himself. He is the one mediator between God and man. And we make ourselves one with him in order to offer all things, with him, to the Father. Our calling to be children of God, in the midst of the world, requires us not only to seek our own personal holiness, but also to go out onto all the ways of the earth, to convert them into roads that will carry souls over all obstacles and lead them to the Lord. As we take part in all temporal activities, as ordinary citizens, we are to become leaven acting on the dough.
Christ is Passing By, 120

True love means going out of oneself, giving oneself. CIPB, 43
If you make up your mind to follow these ways of contemplation, in the midst of your ordinary work, without doing anything odd or withdrawing from the world, you will immediately feel that you are a friend of the Master, with the God-given task of opening up the divine ways of the earth to the whole of mankind. Yes. With your work you will help to spread Christ's kingdom in every continent. You will offer up hour after hour of work for far-off lands which are being born to the faith, for the peoples of the East who are being cruelly forbidden to profess their faith, and for the traditionally Christian nations where it seems that the light of the Gospel has grown dim and souls are struggling in the obscurity of ignorance... Then, how valuable your hour of work becomes as you persevere with the same effort a little longer, a few minutes more, until the job is finished! In a simple and practical way you are converting contemplation into apostolate, seeing it as an imperative necessity of your heart, which beats in unison with the most sweet and merciful Heart of Jesus, Our Lord.
Friends of God, 67


Apostolate, evangelization, implies personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs.
Apostolate, evangelization, implies personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs.
2. Why should we do apostolate? Why evangelize?
All the faithful are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, and so they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ.

For lay people, evangelization acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world. The witness of a Christian life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers or to the faithful.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 900 and 905


Contemplating the mystery
Don't you long to shout to those young men and women all around you: Fools, leave those worldly things that shackle the heart and very often degrade it..., leave all that and come with us in search of Love?
The Way, 790

Our Holy Mother the Church, in a magnificent outpouring of love, is scattering the seed of the Gospel throughout the world; from Rome to the outposts of the earth. As you help in this work of expansion throughout the whole world, bring those in the outposts to the Pope, so that the arth may be one flock and one Shepherd: one apostolate!
Forge, 638

With the amazing naturalness of the things of God, the contemplative soul is filled with apostolic zeal. "My heart was warmed within me, a fire blazed forth from my thoughts." What could this fire be if not the fire that Christ talks about: "I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?" An apostolic fire that acquires its strength in prayer. There is no better way than this to carry on, throughout the whole world, the battle of peace to which every Christian is called, to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.
And so I keep on repeating to you that the world can be made holy. We Christians have a special role to play in sanctifying it. We are to cleanse it from the occasions of sin with which we human beings have soiled it. We are to offer it to our Lord as a spiritual offering, presented to him and made acceptable through his grace and with our efforts. Strictly speaking, we cannot say that there is any noble human reality that does not have a supernatural dimension, for the divine Word has taken on a complete human nature and consecrated the world with his presence and with the work of his hands. The great mission that we have received in baptism is to redeem the world with Christ. We are urged on by the charity of Christ to take upon our shoulders a part of this task of saving souls.
Christ is Passing By, 120

We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Evangelii Gaudium, 8
The Christian apostolate – and I'm talking about an ordinary Christian living as just one more man or woman among equals – is a great work of teaching. Through real, personal, loyal friendship, you create in others a hunger for God and you help them to discover new horizons – naturally, simply. With the example of your faith lived to the full, with a loving word which is full of the force of divine truth.
Be daring. Count on the help of Mary, Queen of apostles. Without ceasing to be a mother, our Lady is able to get each of her children to face their own responsibilities. Mary always does the immense favor of bringing to the Cross, of placing face to face with the example of the Son of God, those who come close to her and contemplate her life. It is in this confrontation that Christian life is decided. And here Mary intercedes for us so that our behavior may lead to a reconciliation of the younger brother – you and me – with the firstborn Son of the Father.
Christ is Passing By, 149


Our encounter with Jesus gives rise to a desire to share our joy with others. Bishop Javier Echevarria.
Our encounter with Jesus gives rise to a desire to share our joy with others. Bishop Javier Echevarria.
3. Why does apostolate mean giving light?
“You are the salt of the earth,” “you are the light of the world” (Matt 5: 13, 14). The light of the Gospel is “a light that attracts”. On seeing the good works of Christians, their neighbors are led to give glory to God, to discover and praise God’s unfathomable love. Apostolate means bearing witness to the light.

Apostolate, evanglization, implies “personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs. Only afterwards is it possible to bring up God’s word, perhaps by reading a Bible verse or relating a story, but always keeping in mind the fundamental message: the personal love of God who became man, who gave himself up for us, who is living and who offers us his salvation and his friendship. This message has to be shared humbly as a testimony on the part of one who is always willing to learn, in the awareness that the message is so rich and so deep that it always exceeds our grasp. At times the message can be presented directly, at times by way of a personal witness or gesture, or in a way which the Holy Spirit may suggest in that particular situation. If it seems prudent and if the circumstances are right, this fraternal and missionary encounter could end with a brief prayer related to the concerns which the person may have expressed. In this way they will have an experience of being listened to and understood; they will know that their particular situation has been placed before God, and that God’s word really speaks to their lives.”
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 100; 128

In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. "The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2044

Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate; thus the fruitfulness of apostolate (…) for lay people clearly depends on their vital union with Christ. (…) Charity, drawn from the Eucharist above all, is always "as it were, the soul of the whole apostolate."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 864

If we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?
For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others? Evangelii Gaudium, 8
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 8


Contemplating the mystery
Be a Eucharistic soul! If the centre around which your thoughts and hopes turn is the Tabernacle, then, my child, how abundant the fruits of your sanctity and apostolate will be!
Forge, 835

What other advice do I have for you? Well, simply to do what the Christians who have really tried to follow Christ have always done, and to use the same means employed by the first men who felt prompted to follow Jesus: developing a close relationship with Our Lord in the Eucharist, a childlike recourse to the Blessed Virgin, humility, temperance, mortification of the senses (“it is not good to look at what it is not licit to desire,” was St Gregory the Great's warning) and penance.
Friends of God 186

Filling the world with light, being the salt and light – that was how our Lord described the mission of his disciples. To bring to the ends of the earth the good news of God's love. All of us Christians should devote our life to doing this, in one way or another.
So we have to awaken the people who have fallen into the dangerous sleep our Lord mentioned. We must remind them that life is not something to play with – it is a divine treasure which must grow. We must also show the way to those who have good will and good desires, but don't know how to put them into practice. Christ urges us. Each one of us has to be not only an apostle, but an apostle of apostles, bringing others along, so that they in turn will encourage others to make Jesus Christ known to everyone.
Christ is Passing By, 147



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