In December 2014, I became an apostle. I’d thought about it before, but it was a while (years, actually) before I took the plunge. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I first discovered the Morning Offering when I was in college. My roommate and I slept in bunk beds before we got our own rooms. I have always been a top bunk kind of girl, so every morning, I would climb down the foot of our beds in the dark, like some kind of methodical monkey, to turn off my alarm. I purposely chose an annoying alarm on a real clock, and my roommate was a light sleeper, so I had plenty of motivation to get moving. Slumped in my desk chair after vanquishing the alarm, I turned on my desk lamp and squinted at two Post-its stuck to the edge of my desktop bookshelf.
One said this:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all of my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for all the intentions of our bishops, all the Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
The other had two bullet points: one general (now “universal”) intention and one mission (now “evangelization”) intention. I found them online. I mumbled my way through the prayers and intentions, still about 60% asleep, and eventually convinced myself to move on with getting ready for the day.
Fast-forward to my second year of teaching. I found myself re-learning that offering prayer and reciting it at the beginning of the day, every day. It was part of the morning announcements at my school. Our theology department chair was on point. It was then that I realized the “apostles of prayer” were actual people. I had been praying for their intentions. Furthermore, this was a group I could join. So why didn’t I?
Moving on again, we find me just this past December. I don’t know what led me back to the website of the Apostleship of Prayer in the U.S., but I got there, and I registered, and now it’s official.
I’m in good company. How’s St. Thérèse for a fellow member?
After I joined, I received a lovely booklet listing the pope’s intentions for the year. I keep it on top of my breviary, which I use nightly, so I see it all the time. I also get an email on the first day of the month reminding me of the new intentions and linking me to the reflections provided by the AOP staff.
It has been glorious.
A bit of history: The Apostleship of Prayer began in 1844 when Fr. Francis Gautrelet counseled his Jesuit students about how to console their missionary hearts. They wanted to evangelize in countries around the world, but they were stuck studying in heavily-Catholic France. By offering their whole day to God in union with the intentions of the Sacred Heart and Holy Father, they satisfied their desire to participate in the work of missionary evangelization even while buried under books in the library. The movement spread to 13 million members around the world in just forty years. Today, I am one of them.
The old international AOP website summarizes the purpose and benefits of joining. The Apostleship of Prayer:
- proposes a way to sanctification
- through the daily offering
- that transforms our lives,
- and unites us in a worldwide communion of prayer
- through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts,
- and arouses in us the desire to have the same sentiments that were in the heart of Christ,
- so that, nourished and molded by him in the Eucharist
- and reconciled with him in the sacrament of Reconciliation,
- we become able to put ourselves totally and with all our heart at his disposition
- and at the disposition of his Church,
- following the example of Mary,
- for the coming of his reign.
Do you want to do that? Join the Apostleship of Prayer! It’s free, and you can enroll online anytime. You can also donate to support the work of the AOP, including ministry tools for children and young adults, new media evangelization, and Ignatian retreats held around the country.
The first and primary duty of an Apostle of Prayer, however, is to pray for the intentions of the pope. This duty is pope-neutral, i.e. it doesn’t matter who is pope at any particular moment. When he asks for prayer, you pray. Even before I became a member, I prayed (and fasted) for peace with Syria. Did the U.S. go to war with Syria? Nope! That’s a pretty solid result in my book. I’m still praying for the actual “peace” part.
Secondary duties are to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, promote the Holy Father’s intentions, and invite others to join the AOP. It is also recommended to go to Mass as often as possible and pray the rosary daily. I’m still working on that, but I think I’ve neatly fulfilled promotion and invitation right here.
The mission of the Apostleship of Prayer is to encourage Christians to make a daily offering of themselves to the Lord for the coming of God’s Kingdom and for the Holy Father’s monthly intentions. This habit of prayer encourages a Eucharistic spirituality of solidarity with the Body of Christ and loving service to others. Nourishing this spiritual program is the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (source)
If you’ve ever thought about joining a prayer group with no meetings, one membership requirement, and universal and eternal effect, join the Apostleship of Prayer. I’d love to have you with me.