The other day while praying my meditation in the quiet of the late afternoon, with the outside shadows lengthening and the expectant hush of eventide marking the ending of another day, for some reason my mind wandered to the microphone in the sanctuary. I was drawn to think about that little microphone.
And I thought back to the first time, that I am aware of anyway, that I entered into a Catholic Church. As a small child, holding onto my mother’s hands, I was introduced to a new part of my life called “church.” I learned that “Jesus lives in the Church.” “We are quiet in the Church.” “We genuflect facing the tabernacle when entering the Church.” “We don’t turn around in Church and look around at other people, because that is disrespectful to Our Lord.”
“We look up and listen to the priest when he preaches at the microphone.”
My mom did a very good job. I learned that our parish Church was, indeed, God’s house – that He was there though I couldn’t see Him. I knew that He saw me perfectly well and that he loved me very, very much. Church was inviting, warm, loving and special. I loved going to Church and listening to God’s Word come to me via the microphone.
My mind continued wandering in a distraction of sorts as I kept thinking about that pulpit, and that microphone. Why doesn’t God just speak to us Himself? He’s there, isn’t He? It’s His house, isn’t it? He perfectly well could just speak for Himself, couldn’t He? And wouldn’t that be more appropriate, anyway? Yet, for some as of yet unfathomable reason, God remains silent on our altars and silent in our tabernacles. Always silent. This is strange to me. Why doesn’t He speak Himself?
No, in God’s eternal plan, for some unfathomable reason, He likes us to do the talking, the preaching, the sharing. He wants us be his voice. Each day at Mass our chaplain ascends the pulpit and proclaims the Gospel into that little microphone. Then the microphone amplifies his voice throughout every corner of our chapel, so that everyone present can hear.
Yet, God could do that Himself, couldn’t He? Why doesn’t He?
And my meandering thoughts led me to a deeper understanding of God’s plan for us and the part His church plays in His Divine plan. Why did He choose the twelve apostles? Why did they ordain others to take their place preaching the good news and imparting the sacraments? Generation after generation and century after century. . .
In the spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate, I found the following jewel:
That is one powerful thought to chew on!
The word “apostle” from the Greek apostello means “to send forth,” “to dispatch.” An apostle, then, is someone who is sent forth, dispatched, entrusted with a mission. An apostle is more than a messenger. An apostle is a delegate, much like an ambassador with credentials to confirm and authenticate his mission. The Apostles and their successors, our Bishops, are entrusted with a particular mission to teach, sanctify, and govern, but all of us are called to be apostles within our own sphere of influence, faithful to our own vocation.
Saint Therese, our beloved sister in Carmel, expresses the burning desire of a Carmelite soul to be sent forth for the sake of souls, especially the souls of priests. She found in her heart, desires broader and deeper than anything she could ever hope to satisfy. She wanted to preach, to be a missionary but knew that one people, one country would never be enough. Only the whole world would do. She wanted to be a martyr, but suffer every suffering, every manner of death, for Christ. She wrote, “Open, O Jesus, the Book of Life, in which are written the deeds of Your Saints: all the deeds told in that book I long to have accomplished for You. To such folly as this what answer will You make? Is there on the face of this earth a soul more feeble than mine?” Her desires were becoming a true martyrdom in the face of her inability to realize any of them until one day, reading 1 Corinthians 13, she realized that she had found her vocation.
This is the Carmelite vocation, to be love. This mission is entrusted to us by the Church and for the Church. That is why we Sisters profess our vows publically before a priest who accepts our vows in the name of the Church. Our vows are accepted by the Church, in the name of Christ. First Christ calls us. Then He sends us, as bona fide apostles – yes apostles – here and now in the twenty first century. And our services in the fields of healthcare, education, and spiritual retreats are our apostolates as we continue our vocation as Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Just as a microphone allows us all to hear the Word of God being proclaimed at Mass, we are meant to be living “microphones” that allow all we encounter to experience the love of God.