Apostolic Creativity.

One cannot be an apostle without being creative; and without being creative, one cannot be a missionary. For us who confess to have an “essential call to be missionaries,”[1] one of the non-negotiable elements of the charism of our Institute is precisely this apostolic and missionary creativity.  This element is the echo that Jesus’ words go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel (Mk 16:15) leaves in our hearts.

For, in that “go” pronounced by the Incarnate Word, it is understood that our pastoral work must be one of an incisive approach, rather than a bureaucratic one[2]. For the election of the apostles by Christ does not only imply the call to be with Him, nor the mere invitation to leave all for Him.[3] Within our vocation is also the implicit call to “go” to make disciples of Christ of all nations.[4] Jesus came as sent by the Father, and is always in search of lost mankind until he finds it.[5] We, religious of the Incarnate Word, will give witness that we truly belong to the line of the apostles only insofar as we accept walking with Christ and sharing in His deep desire for the salvation of souls,[6] now more urgent than ever, because “in our day Jesus’ command to ‘go and make disciples’ echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary ‘going forth’.”[7]


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Hence, this “go” necessarily calls for a missionary attitude, which leads us to not simply be content with remaining closed within our parishes or our religious houses, waiting for others to come to us, especially considering the circumstances of today’s world.  But rather, to go, to feel the love of Christ that impels us[8] to preach the Gospel.

St. John Paul II says that “there must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel” to those who are distanced from Christ, “for this is the first task of the Church.” The Saintly Pope says that the mission “represents the greatest challenge for the Church” and “the missionary task must remain foremost.”[9]  Following this teaching, Pope Francis tells us “What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity.”[10]

This is why Christ calls us to Himself before sending us out; and if each day we seek Him in prayer, neither strength, nor creativity, nor dedication for seeking the opportunities for presence, witness and apostolic service, nor energy to always go forward in our missionary work will ever be lacking.  “Only in the depths of contemplation can the Holy Spirit transform your hearts; and only if your own hearts are transformed will you be able to fulfil the great task of helping others so that the Spirit may guide them into all the truth[11], which is the essence of the Christian mission.”[12]

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To achieve being ‘in tune’ with the Holy Spirit, the Directory of Spirituality, points out that we should: a) be attentive to His inspirations, working against habitual dissipation, lack of mortification and disordered affections;[13] b) exercise ourselves in the discernment of spirits;[14] and finally c) be docile and ready in the execution of the Holy Spirit’s requests because ‘indecision is foreign to the grace of the Holy Spirit’,[15] always working against the temptation to delay, against the fear to sacrifice and totally surrender, and against the temptation to recover what we have given, seeking compensation or setting our hearts[16] on things that are not of God.[17]

Thus, the Holy Spirit will inspire us to open new paths so that the message of the Son of God might penetrate in the hearts and at the turning points of culture,[18] teaching us in the perception of the signs of the times, to be a part of the vanguard of the renewal desired by the Church; responding effectively and competently to the needs of the current times. Saint John Paul II wrote: “It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God.”[19]

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In announcing the works of God, it is almost a natural consequence of the action of the Holy Spirit to raise up, in the heart of the missionaries, initiatives of all types, so that with great daring, and even greater enthusiasm, one does not only set forth on the noble task of saving souls, but that one multiplies the ways of doing so, always on the lookout for occasions to proclaim the Gospel.

This “apostolic creativity” is asked of us by our Constitutions when they state: “We have to take on the modern Aeropagi that are open to the Church’s activity without abandoning the traditional methods of apostolate. Healthy creativity is an essential element of the living Church tradition. We must not be afraid; Christ Himself invites us to put out into the deep![20]

Elsewhere, our proper law also points out: “The mission, of itself, allows for great creativity, always insofar as that which is essential is respected: that the authentic Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ be preached, that the conversion is sought out for those who are in sin, that those who receive missionaries approach well prepared to the sacraments, that there be a renewal in the depths of the Christian life, that the perseverance of the people be taken into consideration.”[21]

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Far be it from us that “pastoral of upkeep,” without enthusiasm, incisiveness, without contact with the people, behind a desk, not in touch with reality and which waits for souls to knock on our doors.  That type of ‘pastoral’ work is, in the end, nominalist, superficial, about waiting and not incisive, as the Church asks of us and as we desire. And so, it does not attract, it does not transform, it does not move to great ideals, and it produces very little fruit.

It is up to us to “guide our soul to great acts…”[22] to “risk our lives so that others might have life and hope,”[23] to continue onward driven by “an untiring zeal for souls, with a spirit of sacrifice, with patience, and mercy…,”[24] founding “all our apostolic enthusiasm”[25] in Christ alone and in the unfailing help of our Most Holy Mother.


[1] Constitutions, 31.

[2] Cf. Constitutions, 158.

[3] Cf. Lk 5:11

[4] Cf. Mt 28:19-20

[5] Lk 15:4-6

[6] Cf. CIVCSVA, Starting Afresh from Christ, 9: “Zeal for the establishment of the Kingdom of God and the salvation of brothers and sisters thus constitutes the best proof of a self-offering authentically lived by consecrated persons. That is why every new attempt at renewal can be seen as a new impetus for the evangelizing mission” op. cit Novo Millennio Ineuente, 2.

[7] Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 20, 24 November 2013.

[8] Cf. 2 Cor 5:14

[9] Encyclical Letter Redemptoris mission, 7 December 1990, 34.40.86.

[10] Evangelii Gaudium, 15. The Holy Father also reminds us that “Along these lines the Latin American bishops stated that we ‘cannot passively and calmly wait in our church buildings’ we need to move ‘from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry’.” Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, Aparecida Document, 29 June 2007, 548.

[11] Jn 16:13

[12] St. John Paul II, Address to the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart, 21 September 2000.

[13] Directory of Spirituality, 14.

[14] Directory of Spirituality, 15.

[15] SAINT AMBROSE, Commentary on Saint Luke, 2, 19.

[16] Cf. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, [322].

[17] Directory of Spirituality, 16.

[18] Constitutions, 29.

[19] Redemptoris Missio, 1.

[20] Directory of Spirituality, 160.

[21] Directory of Popular Missions, Appendix 2.

[22] Directory of Spirituality, 41.

[23] Cf. Directory of Consecrated Life, 270.

[24] Cf. Directory of Parishes, 132.

[25] Directory of Spirituality, 84.

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