Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How the Apostolate Began, Part IV

I continued to sketch the ministry in writing for that day and the next.  Just as the apostolate unfolded on paper, so did the purpose of my life begin to unfold in my mind.  I became certain that the apostolate was as central to my life's calling as my vocation to be a husband and father, as well as my vocation to share the truths of the faith through writing.  From the beginning of time we are all fashioned to play our specific part in God's perfect plan of salvation.  In a sense, we are supernaturally "stamped" with qualities, traits and desires that lead us--amidst the freedom of our choices--to the purpose God has for us.  Thus, if a woman has been given the gift of motherhood, there's a mystical sense in which she has carried that calling with her throughout her life.  Even as a little girl she has been "stamped" in the image of motherhood, just as an acorn carries with it the "plan" to be an oak tree.

I began to understand that my past experiences in prison and academia had laid the groundwork--were the preparatory crucible--for my future work as a street evangelist.  My own past was being unlocked before me, and treasures were brought forward amidst my past sufferings and sins.  I began to finally see all the pieces of my life as a coherent whole: the long walks in every kind of weather, the abiding care for at-risk youth, ex-cons and prostitutes, the intellectual desire to understand human history and defend the truth, the love for the fading treasures of the Catholic tradition, and lastly, the need for Christian brotherhood that is a nobler friendship than the solidarity I found amongst the "solid cons" in prison.

Where's the brotherhood among Catholic men?

The concerns and pre-occupations that gripped me also seemed to be some of the weakest parts of the Church in the "developed" West.  The apostolate seemed to effortlessly provide a remedy for many of the needs of the Church: the need to re-claim and model a deeper sense of prayer and worship, the revival of a spirit of reparation, the need to reestablish a public prophetic witness, the need to go out and find poor sinners where they languish amidst spiritual starvation, and the recovery of Catholic masculinity and friendship.

In the initial burst of thinking and writing on the ministry, I envisioned a small army of like-minded laymen tromping through the cities, with some men even serving as full-time missionaries, and some of the single men living together in run-down urban Jesus Caritas houses.  I thought the ministry might help test young men who were discerning a call to the priesthood.  They could spend a year walking the streets, and recent college graduates could also spend a year or two before they met their spouse and got on with "real" life.  I knew it would take a miracle for the apostolate to become what I envisioned, but I half-expected a miracle since I had been haunted by the supernatural since my conversion.  But if I had paid closer attention to the life of Blessed Charles and his lonesome ministry, then  I would have known that these were only daydreams.  I confess them now so that you might know my foolishness.

What is clear is that the ministry will always be a part of my life until I am overcome by old age.  It's become a part of who I am, just as it sprung from my own hopes and pre-occupations.  I may only write about the ministry in fits and starts, but I'll always walk the streets in the hope that God will put me in just the right place at the right time.


  1. Scott, I’ve just finished reading the first four parts of this apostolate formative thread and found it truly and deeply spiritual; sharing the past, the formation, and moving into the future of your apostolate, while still so connected to your past life; which I believe, really does give you the prison/street experience and strength to walk the urban streets, without fear, silently offering solace and conversion.

    My prayers continue for your work.

    Take care.