Category Archives: Questions and Answers

If I have in intimacy with God in the Eucharist, why do I need mental prayer?

It is fairly common when speaking about mental prayer on social media that a fellow traditionalist will pop into the thread and proclaim that the Eucharist is the only means of intimacy with God that we need. This reflects a deep misunderstanding of both the sublime encounter with God in the Eucharist and the relationship between the graces received in the Eucharist and mental prayer.

The Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our faith. When we encounter Christ there, we encounter Him in the deepest intimacy possible in this life. However, the Eucharist isn’t magic. If we come with hearts laden with sin and attachments, we create barriers for the grace that the Lord desires to give us. As we see in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we can approach the Eucharist in a way that is profoundly destructive to our souls and even our temporal welfare.

So it is clear that how we approach the Lord in this great encounter determines the grace we receive. A good disposition brings more grace and poor disposition hinders grace. He is always willing to give us all we need to become saints at every encounter. However, the problem is within us – the barriers are within us. This is where mental prayer comes in.

Living the contemplative, a life of prayer and ascesis mitigates these barriers and enables us to approach the Lord in the Eucharist with open and pure hearts and to thus receive all the graces that He desires to give. Mental prayer is as essential to this great encounter as is being healthy before surgery. The great Physician is ready to heal and restore us to health and beyond, but if we are sinful and neglectful of our physical health, the benefits are outweighed or mitigated by our neglect. We nullify the work of the great Physician.

If we allow ourselves to be purified and transformed by the power of the Eucharist, we will naturally be drawn to extend that encounter in mental prayer. It will animate and elevate our ongoing conversation with the Lord and make us desire more time with Him in prayer. An encounter with God in the Eucharist that does not bear fruit – in this case, a deeper life of prayer – is sterile.

There is nothing more powerful to prepare for the Source and Summit than the contemplative life. There is nothing more fruitful and important for the contemplative life than the Eucharist. To pit them against one another, or to ignore one as if it were unnecessary is to squander the fruits of both.

PS: Thanks to Claire Dwyer for edits

Recommended Sojourner Reading Program

Update: Dear friends, I decided to update this post to draw it to your attention for summer reading.

Question: What books do you recommend for Sojourners?

Answer: Sojourners have an informal relationship with Apostoli Viae and are thus under no obligation for any particular path of formation. However, If the Sojourner has a desire for deeper association, it makes sense that they would begin pursuing formation and commitments that would prepare them for deeper affiliation and that would allow them to grow spiritually and more effectively discern the path that God has called them to.

All Apostoli Viae formation can be understood through two diagrams or graphic representations of the charism. The first is our crest; the second is the Way of Ascent diagram here. Each reinforces the other and reveals formation priorities for all engaged with the Way. Both reveal sacramental participation as foundational to spiritual progress. Beyond this foundation, we then look to other foundational elements in prayer and ascesis. Where does this lead regarding spiritual reading for a Sojourner?

The first place to begin all reading on any topic in the Church is the Catechism. The four pillars of the Catechism correspond perfectly to our foundational emphases. Thus, the most important document to read, end to end, is the Catechism. If this feels like a bit too much to bite off, then the Compendium to the Catechism can be a great place to start. It is very brief and clear. Regardless, association beyond the Sojourner stage requires complete assent to all the teachings of the Church, and thus the Catechism is necessary reading for Disciples.

The second path of emphasis is mental prayer. Those who enter into Discipleship with Apostoli Viae will all have at least a basic commitment to daily mental prayer. Here are a few foundational texts on prayer and peace, in order of importance, and one on discernment that we recommend (along with links):

One more book that will help you understand our approach to progress in the interior life is Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. This book provides a concise overview of spiritual progress from the beginning stages to the realm of sainthood.

Beyond these texts, the journey more deeply into the Way will reveal a six-year systematic formation program that has essential reading and recommended texts along the way. The adventure into the heart of God is always rich and beautiful, and this path of formation will no doubt be a life-changing experience for those called to it.

Apostoli Viae and the Liturgy

Question: What is unique about how Apostoli Viae views and encourages participation in the liturgy?

Answer: The unique perspective of Apostoli Viae regarding the  liturgy can be summed up in a few key principals:

  • Sovereignty of God’s Desire: God decides how He wants to be worshipped and His desire should be honored above all else. He is God, and we are not. He has given us everything, and our worship should be an expression of humble gratitude to Him in whatever way He specifies. He is to be at the center of our worship, not us. Those who seek to worship Him with authenticity and humility, will gladly and joyfully yield to His preferences and have no concern for their own.
  • The Voice of Mary: “Do whatever he tells you” should be the guiding principle behind our action and participation in the liturgy. What He tells us in and through the magisterium should be the first and last word regarding how we should or should not pursue worship.
  • The Guidance of the Magisterium: God’s preferences are reflected in and through the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the magisterium of the Church. This teaching authority expresses itself in the rubrics of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and related documents that guide our practice and participation. The documents we should reflect upon, and study, are both pre and post conciliar.
  • A Hermeneutic of Continuity: Because God has never abandoned His Church or ceased to guide it, AV members always seek prayerful engagement with theologians and liturgists who reflect a hermeneutic of continuity rather than rupture.
  • Freedom and Humility: When there is freedom in liturgical practice, AV members will always gravitate to those expressions that are most humble, and most reverent according to history, theology, and tradition, not personal or popular opinion, preference, or modern innovation that lacks mooring in sacred history and tradition.
  • The Voice of Judas: Judas questioned extravagant worship, and Jesus affirmed and memorialized it; and we now ensure that the beauty of the Church is available to all without distinction. Though ministry to the poor is extremely important and prominent within AV, it is always subordinate to worship. We should be extravagant in our worship and trust that in response He will provide all we need to serve the poor well.
  • Our Disposition: AV members embrace these perspectives both to better orient their hearts to God in an attitude of humble worship, and to be a sign to the Church and world of the beauty and joy of faithful Catholicism. Our disposition or instincts should never be one of criticism or irritation with those who disagree or are disobedient to the Church. Instead, our disposition is one of humility and gentleness as we seek to live out our beautiful tradition in the Church and to draw all hearts and minds to God through our teaching, devotion, and practice.

Finally, though we honor and seek to live and promote our faithful liturgical patrimony, we never allow matters of liturgy to divide us. Division comes when liturgy and liturgical preference becomes a matter of idolatry or when these principals are rejected or neglected. Said another way, it is possible to worship liturgy or our preferences rather than to worship the God to whom the liturgy seeks to lead us. We know our concern for liturgy is idolatry or a form of attachment when matters of the liturgy lead to anger, resentment, factions, or division rooted in a rejection of our most glorious tradition or a failure to exercise patience and charity with those who disagree or who have yet to be properly formed.

An authenticly faithful perspective on liturgy unites its participants as they together kneel and worship the God for whom all faithful liturgy exists.

How can I Advance in Apostoli Viae if I Can’t Make All the Cenacle Meetings?

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Beloved Friends,

We have come a long way since our first meeting. As I prepare to meet with our canon lawyer (Fr. Bryan Jerabek) about AV, I am delighted to note how many of you have stayed engaged since September. I am also delighted to reflect on the beauty of the souls engaged. You are a remarkable group of people.

As you know, the minimum period of engagement for a Sojourner is approximately one year. This means that in order for a Sojourner to be considered eligible to move into the next phase of association, it is necessary for them to have been exposed to formation with an Apostle for a period of approximately one year.

This exposure can come in various ways; the most foundational and important being attendance in our bi-weekly meetings. Secondary and very helpful exposure can come through apostolate work and other activities.

In our case, for some this will be easy because they work with me on a daily basis. For others this is more difficult due to distance. However, if one is able to make approximately 24 meetings in a year (or equivalent exposure), this is sufficient to request entrance as indicated in our statues (under development). This does not mean entrance is automatic. What it means is that we have at least some basis from which to prayerfully determine ongoing association.

There are three possible outcomes of this discernment:

  1. We discern the Lord is calling you into deeper association.
  2. We discern the Lord is not calling you into deeper association and that He has called you elsewhere.
  3. We discern that we have insufficient engagement or information to discern clearly and more time or specific engagement or interaction is required.

This third situation is one that could result in various possible prescriptions to allow for greater clarity in discernment. The Sojourner might be invited to:

  • Pursue specific prayer, fasting and/or retreat time.
  • Engage with their spiritual director regarding specific questions.
  • Undertake specific study or spiritual disciplines.
  • Spend more time with the foundational engagement of regular Cenacle meetings etc.

As you can see, participation in the regular meetings is very important. In considering this reality and the fact that you are all busy people with important family, parish, and apostolate responsibilities, I have decided to ensure that we record every meeting for those who simply cannot attend each time but who are serious about their association. What this means on a practical basis is that when I take attendance during each meeting instead of marking an “N” for “No” when a Sojourner cannot attend, I will leave it blank until I am able to determine if the Sojourner watched the video. Once watched, the Sojourner would then notify me through the Cenacle Forum that they have done so and I will mark attendance as “V” for video.

Why the distinction between “Y” and “V”? The reason is that what we are doing is not just about the transference of information. While the Holy Spirit can make up for any lack of time or other hindrances, on a human level, watching a video is far less enriching for all involved than engaging face to face or live through digital means. That said, a “V” still indicates a strong desire to engage in formation even if the meeting is not possible and thus aids our discernment.

I hope that recording the meetings is helpful to you. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below if you have any.

Unum Est Necessarium

Dan

What is required of me to associate with Apostoli Viae beyond the Sojourner phase?

Question: What is required of me to associate with Apostoli Viae (AV) beyond the Sojourner phase?

Answer: At the foundational level, a clear and resolute “yes” to God emanates from the hearts of all associated with AV – especially those who desire to deepen their association. This “yes” manifests itself in a strong desire to grow spiritually and in specific ways that are compatible with the AV charism. Note that this state of soul is clear in its commitment but this does not mean that there is a perfect manifestation of the various attributes of the plan of love proposed for a Sojourner. What it does mean is that there is clear progress and desire. The child of God in each stage of the AV journey is not necessarily marked by perfection, though that may be the goal, but instead by progress and commitment related to the plan of love of every new aspect of the ascent. Beyond these foundational realities, here are a few elements and/or characteristics that are important for a Sojourner to progress in association:

  • Sacraments: Mass every Sunday and confession monthly. Without these these foundational commitments, spiritual growth is not likely.
  • Daily Prayer: 10-15 minutes of daily mental prayer.
  • Spiritual Reading: 10 minutes of daily spiritual reading – complete reading of the Catechism.
  • Magisterium: Unreserved commitment to all teachings of the Church.
  • AV Formation: Those who desire deeper association must build deeper relationships and formation. These come through regular participation in formation opportunities.
  • AV Charism: A strong draw to the unique spiritual and apostolic elements of Apostoli Viae and clear evidence of the disposition of those who have had an authentic encounter with God. All AV members must be, as a norm, outwardly collaborative, positive and joyful in their life and faith. Stated negatively, AV is not the place for the dour, sour, or combative. One of the most telling signs of an authentic encounter with God is that we manifest the fruits of the spirit – love – joy – peace – patience – kindness – faithfulness – gentleness – self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Does Apostoli Viae provide regular formation for its members?

Question: Does Apostoli Viae (AV) provide regular formation for its members?

Answer: Yes! AV intends to provide a specific path of formation in keeping with both the charism and the apostolic works central to AV. Here is an initial/example list of formation paths AV envisions:

  • The Way of Participation in the Mysteries: How can I fully engage with the sacramental and liturgical rhythm of the Church, worship God more completely, and gain the benefits of all the gifts provided therein?
  • The Way of Prayer: What is the spectrum of prayer in the Church, where am I within that spectrum, and how can I grow in prayer and union with God? How can I teach others to pray?
  • The Way of Ascesis: What is the path of self-giving and how can I travel that path as I grow in union with God? This ascesis includes the practice of sacred study or study of sacred doctrine.
  • The Way of Community: What is my need for and relationship to a community of disciples in AV?
  • The Way of Discipleship and Spiritual Direction: What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ within AV and how does that relate to Spiritual Direction?
  • The Way of Discernment: What does it mean to be awake and spiritually aware and engaged in my own spiritual growth and in my service to others?
  • The Way of Spiritual Direction: How does the Way frame and provide spiritual direction that is specific to the charism and also provide an environment where each individual can grow in union with God? What is spiritual direction and how can I participate in it effectively and thereby lead others in the same way?

As of the writing of this post, some of these programs are complete or are provided through approved use of materials that exist in the Church that are complimentary to the unique elements of the AV charism. Many of the elements of these programs are already available through the Avila Institute.

Is Apostoli Viae an Actual Order?

Question: Is Apostoli Viae (AV) an actual order, not a society, in the sense that one can only be a professed member of 1 order and could therefore not be a member of any other Church order and AV?

Answer: AV is, at present, can be compared to a flower breaking through the snow of spring. This means that we are a brand new emerging work of the Holy Spirit. Those reading this in August of 2016 are among the first to witness this emergence with AV. Thus, canonically, AV is in a stage known as a Private Association of the Faithful. We are just beginning and the canonical statues are in development under the oversight our Bishop. This status is the starting point of many “orders” and of many organizations that intend to follow God’s call to become a full fledged “order.” As best as we can discern at this point, our intent is to have lay, religious, priests, and sisters/nuns as part of our charism. Here’s a good primer on the topic of our current path: http://www.catholiccanonlaw.com/associations.pdf

What is the Mission of Apostoli Viae?

Question: What is the Mission of Apostoli Viae?

Answer: The mission of the Apostles of the Way is to live, light, and lead the Way to union with God.

  • To Live the Way is to understand, embrace, and joyfully live the contemplative life.
  • To Light the Way is to joyfully witness to, reveal, and teach the contemplative path.
  • To Lead the Way is to generously serve and guide pilgrims on the path.

I live in a remote part of the world, can I be a part of Apostoli Viae even though there is no community here?

Question: I live in a remote part of the world where AV does not yet have a physical presence. Can I still be a part of the AV community?

Answer:  Most definitely. Though distance makes things harder, one of the unique callings of AV is to serve those who are isolated around the world. This is particularly important in places where the Church is not present or is suppressed or far less active than in more populated areas under more favorable conditions.

The key is to fight very hard to commit to develop community where you are and to connect with other members through community meetings online so as to build familiarity and solidarity with one another.

What If I Am Not Naturally a Joyful Person – Can I Still Be a Part of AV?

Question: What If I Am Not Naturally a Joyful Person? Can I still be apart of Apostoli Viae?

Answer from Dan: For those who may not be aware, we embrace the admonition to “count it all joy” and to live a life of outward joy as an act of love to God and to those around us even in the midst of challenging circumstances.

You might be surprised to know that even after a dramatic conversion to Christ that I received the “Scrooge Award” and that I had the nickname of “Nuke” which is short for “nuclear” all while I was working at a Christian organization. Something has clearly changed in me since then – thank God.

So, the issue isn’t whether or not we fail from time to time or whether or not we are naturally inclined to a positive disposition. The issue really is the willingness to fight to love others in a way that transcends our suffering and feelings. Anyone who becomes formally involved with the Way must recognize and embrace this call to joy and then fight like heaven to live it.