This is the first of 8 talks given during the Easter Season to the adult leadership of my parish. The goal of these talks is to bring about repentance and rededication to the interior life for all those who engage in the various ministries of the Church.
Everything is based on The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO, a 19-20 Century Trappist monk and abbot in France. He wrote this book, which Pope Pius XII kept on his night stand and read frequently, in order to ground all of us in the true priority of being Christ's first before we do Christ's work. It is the call to love the God who works, rather than the works of God.
The grave error we all fall into is what he calls in the book "The Heresy of Good Works." This heresy is rooted in the notion that I can replace the Interior life with exterior work for the spread of the gospel. "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" says Saint Paul. But this can never replace Christ's words, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul."
Today there are too many books on parish renewal that do not start with and end with prayer and sanctification. They jump into action, demanding updating and reforming of parish structures and the adoption of means and methods from the marketplace or from non-Catholic communities without realizing their true effects.
When you see the words "evangelization" and "discipleship," but fail to see the words "holiness" and "prayer," run. Any true reform must be from and towards sanctity, which only comes from God. We cannot make disciples of anyone, we should not be evangelizing a single person, if Christ does not reign in me and I in him.