Today’s saint was one of the founding fathers of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. In 1541 he set sail for India where he began the work that led to his being named the patron saint of the missions. Eight years later he became the first missionary to enter Japan. When the Japanese people expressed dismay that the wisest people in the world—the Chinese—had not heard of Christianity, St. Francis decided that he had to preach the Gospel in China so that it would be received throughout the Far East. He died on an island off the coast of China on this day in 1552.
Today the Apostleship of Prayer celebrates its 167th birthday. On this day in 1844, Fr. Francis Xavier Gautrelet, S.J., the spiritual director for Jesuit seminarians in Vals, France, told them that they did not have to wait until they were ordained in order to do God’s work. He explained to them that they could offer all their prayers and works, their frustrations and sacrifices, their sorrows and joys for the salvation of souls. This idea, embodied in the Morning or Daily Offering, caught on not only with the seminarians but with lay people all over. Thus was formed the Apostleship of Prayer which Blessed John Paul II called “a precious treasure from the Pope’s heart and the Heart of Christ.”
The Apostleship of Prayer continues to be an important service to the Pope and the entire Church. It was recognized as such in the planning documents of the 2005 Synod of Bishops which met to talk about the role of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church. As we reflect on part of that document let us renew our offering for the salvation of souls and the Holy Father’s intentions for December.
The Eucharist is at the origin of every form of holiness. To develop a profound Eucharistic spirituality, it is necessary that the Christian people, who give thanks through the Eucharist, be aware of doing so in the name of the whole of creation, aspiring to the sanctification of the world, and working for the same. Christian life finds its own path in the Eucharistic celebration. … Promotion of daily participation in the celebration of Holy Mass is, in the Latin rites, an effective means to develop this spirituality, nucleus of family, professional, social and political life. The daily offering (taught, for example, in the Apostleship of Prayer, practiced by millions of Catholics worldwide) can help each one to become a "Eucharistic figure," following the example of Mary, uniting one's own life to that of Christ, who offers himself for humanity.