Quotes, Spirituality

Quote: Heresy in Good Works in "The Soul of the Apostolate"

Now for a man, in his practical conduct, to go about his active works as if Jesus were not his one and only life-principle, is what Cardinal Mermillod has called the “HERESY OF GOOD WORKS.” He uses this expression to stigmatize the apostle who so far forgets himself as to overlook his secondary and subordinate role, and look only to his own personal activity and talents as a basis for apostolic success. Is this not, in practice, a denial of a great part of the Tract on Grace? This conclusion is one that appalls us, at first sight. And yet a little thought will show us that it is only too true.

HERESY IN GOOD WORKS! Feverish activity taking the place of God; grace ignored; human pride trying to thrust Jesus from His throne; supernatural life, the power of prayer, the economy of our redemption relegated, at least in practice, to the realm of pure theory: all this portrays no merely imaginary situation, but one which the diagnosis of souls shows to be very common though in various degrees, in this age of naturalism, when men judge, above all, by appearances, and act as though success were primarily a matter of skillful organization.

Even setting aside revelation altogether, the plain light of sane philosophy makes it impossible for us not to pity a man who, for all his remarkable gifts, refuses to recognize God as the principle of the marvelous talents that all observe in him.

What would be the feelings of a Catholic, thoroughly instructed in his religion, at the
sight of an apostle who would boast, at least implicitly, that he could do without God in
communicating to souls even the smallest degree of divine life?

“He is crazy!” we would say, if we heard an apostolic worker using such words as these: “My God, just do not raise any obstacle to my work, just keep out of my way, and I guarantee to produce the best results!”

Our feelings would be a mere reflection of the aversion excited in God by the spectacle of such disorder: by the spectacle of presumption carrying its pride to such limits as to wish to impart supernatural life, to produce faith, to put an end to sin, incite men to virtue, and without attributing these effects to the direct, unfailing, universal, and overwhelming action of the Blood of God, the price, the cause, and the means of all grace and of all spiritual life.

Therefore, God owes it to the Humanity of His Son to make fools of these false Christs by paralyzing the works of their pride, or by allowing them to pass away as a momentary mirage
— The Soul of the Apostolate

I cannot tell you how important this is for ministry. And how guilty I have been of this very attitude. Without prayer, a deeper, interior life, there is no discipleship, no evangelization, nothing. And yet, as my buddy Luke is quick to remind us, "Where there is a lack of intimacy, there is only technique."