True Zeal Born of Generosity
ALMOST automatically the third insight stems from the first and second. The soul that has denied itself even to the measure of selfless service, even to the desired identification with the Crucified, takes its place among those who are no longer deaf but "prompt" and "loving". This is to say that always and without reservation they are at the disposal of their King and those words of the First Week are ever on their lips: "What ought I to do for Christ?" Here we find that readiness for apostolic action born of an interior life characterized by a Christ-loving self-denial, an entirely new receptiveness for world-wide co-operation in the redemptive work of Christ in the battle against the standard of Satan.
This is much more than mere ado over the Church's external activity. It does not mean apostolic activity in the frequently derogatory connotation of that term which means organization alone, nor just a narrow concentration on a particular problem within the Church. For one who has died to himself in Christ all doors are suddenly thrown open. Only he who in self-sacrifice has offered his own heart is a follower of Christ equipped and ready for every form of apostolic endeavour. In the Exercises the interior and the apostolic life are presented in their Christian perspective, which is to say, in a balanced perspective. A man who wants only the more in his interior life finds everything ready for him in exterior life. There is only one limitation: the limitless and intensely arduous love of Christ and His work.
Only those souls of the more (who are this way in all Christian simplicity) are in a position to feel called to every kind of service for the salvation of their fellow man, the authentic apostolic work of Christ the King, who is ever present in the Church militant. This readiness to co-operate in the work of Christ is vitally necessary for every Sodality; otherwise the Sodality would remain what it already is in the eyes of many, a pious spectre, that type of organization which Pius XII, in his address of January 21, 1945, described thus: "The Sodality is no pious organization for the cultivation of serene and inactive piety, no refuge for pious souls, no quiet haven where there is no combat and no cross."
The Sodality should verify that fundamental law of all spiritual life within the Church: in proportion to the degree to which a man puts himself at the disposal of Christ the King with a joyful live and heartfelt intimacy does he become fit to be a witness, to give testimony for the living, the demanding, the fighting Christ. He is ready, alert enough to take his place in the line of battle wheresoever he may be needed, with the strong, sure hands which only they possess who have first sacrificed their hearts.
Again it is our present Holy Father who proposed this ideal of apostolic readiness to the Sodality when he addressed the International Congress at Barcelona on December 7, 1947. The Pope said: "This should be the distinguishing mark of the Sodality, that each day it adapts itself anew and with agility to the many-sided problems of the Church and to the most diverse circumstances of the present day and nevertheless remains ever faithful to the essential requirements of its spirituality and its apostolate." Here, in this ideal of the Sodality, we discern the true, the correct balance between piety and activity. The Sodality should cultivate, the Pope goes on to say in the same address, no mere interior and timid piety incompatible with Our Lord's words: "I have come to cast fire upon the earth!" Again, in another passage the Holy Father applies to the Sodality's genuine enthusiasm for action the words of Scripture: "Can a man hide fire in his bosom and his garments not burn?
THE urge to independent action, to perfect oneself and others by one's own initiative is a fundamental trait of youthfulness. In 1610 Fr. Coster had this to say in his Libellus Sodalitatis: "It is really not difficult to keep young men faithful to duty while they are under the supervision of their teachers. But we must make provision, first of all, that they make piety so much their own that they will remain faithful to virtue, not because of any one form of coercion or another, nor from the mere ambition to distinguish themselves, nor for any other reason, but that they make the fear of God their own and devote themselves to study because of an ordent love of God; that they do not serve to the eye, but remain true to the faith in the secret depths of their hearts as well as in public. This was a subject on which the Fathers of the Society of Jesus reflected intensively. They asked themselves: How can we bring the yopung men entrusted to us to this point? They came to the conclusion that it is very important to unite them in a Sodality governed by pious and holy laws and in which they would bind themselves interiorly to live a just and holy life."
It is in this way, as Fr. Joseph Miller notes, that the Sodality becomes part of a genuinely educative process. The Sodality captures youth's urge for independence. This is to adopt a cardinal principle of modern pedagogy, namely, that all efforts on behalf of youth must lead it to an independent acceptance of the world of values.
What we have said about student Sodalities also applies to every genuine Sodality. Guidance toward responsibility must be a core principle, that attentive listening for the call to collaboration in the kingdom of God, that prudent, and at the same time, courageous carrying out of convictions form a secrecy of the soul into public life, and even "Šby promoting in national assemblies and as heads of states, laws that are in keeping with Gospel principles and social Justice", as Pius XII says in his Bis Saeculari. In this sense every Sodalist must be young. He is young who can always start to do something from the beginning. In the eternally new kingdom of Christ every achievement is a new beginning and every beginning is already a secret victory. Only with such persons can Christ ever begin to do anything.
Mary Present at Every Crisis
ALREADY in the very first week the exercitant stands before the Cross of his King and asks himself the question: "What ought I to do for Christ?" But this Christ who has descended and has "come" is He who has come through Mary. Thus, as the exercitant of the second week kneels with Mary and Joseph before the new-born Babe of Bethlehem in the stable, there is enkindled in him the same noble readiness to help Christ and to do something for Him: "I will make myself a poor little unworthy slave, and as though present, look upon them, contemplate them, and serve them in their needs with all possible homage and reverence." That is an authentically Christian dramatization of the story of salvation which here and now he can immediately translate into action. Even to this present day Jesus needs my help and I shall always be an 'unprofitable servant' before Jesus who is present in the Church. In this matter Mary is my model, for I am to see her and St. Joseph "labouring that Our Lord might be born in extreme poverty in order that (what a bold expression!) after many labours, after hunger, thirst, heat and cold, after insults and outrages, He might die on the Cross, and all that for me". This appeal grows stronger and stronger until the very climax of the Exercises when the exercitant makes his decision to choose the better means to help Christ. The exercitant is now ready to take his place beneath the Standard of the poor and crucified Christ. Mary once again steps to the forefront: "...to obtain for me from her Son and Lord [the grace] to be received under His Standard." She is Our Lady of the Election. Mary stands at the crossroads where the way of heroism opens before the exercitant in the contemplations which he is simultaneously making on the life of Christ, where he sees how Christ Our Lord "...left His...Mother to devote Him-self exclusively to the service of His eternal Father".
The Exercises draw a distinctive portrait of Mary in which she is presented under a dual aspect. First she is the humble woman of the Gospels. She is forever disappearing into the background only to re-emerge suddenly at some critical stage in the moulding the exercitant. Now she becomes the noble Lady, assuming her queenly rôle in the life of the Christian. She collaborates as she did in the life of her Son. After her example we must fashion all our own collaboration in the kingdom of God.