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The Apostleship of Prayer

  For seven years, I was blessed to work with Father Fred Power, S.J. as his Associate Editor of the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart magazine.

At work one morning I learned how the Apostleship of Prayer was introduced to Canada. Reaching up to the top of the heavy-laden bookshelf in his office, Father Power took down a well-worn volume written in the 19th century by Father Henry Ramiere, S.J. who was the person responsible for making this connection.

A native of France, he sent a letter to then Archbiship John J. Lynch who was the first Archbishop of the Toronto diocese from 1860 – 1888. Father Ramiere enclosed leaflets about the Apostleship and suggested ways to promote this devotion.

Allthough it was Francis X. Gautrelet who founded the Apostleship in Vals, France in 1844, this devotion owes its popularity largely to Father Ramiere who adapted its organization for parishes and various parish institutions through his book by the same title.

The first edition of this ancient volume was written in 1861, but Father’s copy was a reprint from 1956. The now tattered dust jacket referred to Father Ramiere as “a brilliant writer, a deep theologian, a vigorous dialectician but above all, an ardent apostle burning with zeal for souls.”

Father Power shared with me that he had read this book several times during his formative years in the seminary. Through this book he gained a strong interest in the Apostleship of Prayer. Then in his last year of studies, he created a newsletter with quotes from the book’s writings, directing it to his fellow seminarians.

How providential that Father Power should spend the next 43 years of his ministry serving in the Apostleship of Prayer, first as assistant to then editor C.C.Ryan and then succeeding him as editor of the Sacred Heart Magazine and also as National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.

I now have my own reprint of this book. There is a quote that struck me when I first began to read it. Father Ramiere quotes St. Augustine: “God wills that all men be saved.” It continues: “God wishes that all should arrive at the knowledge of the truth, but this will, real and sincere though it may be, does not destroy the free will of those whom He seeks to save.”

We know that God gave us free will and we can say no to the inspirations of our conscience and make those choices that will result in our separation from God.

Contemplation of Jesus on the Cross and the Passion He endured for us is a valuable tool to remind us of His desire that we receive salvation. It is up to us to accept or refuse the gift of eternal life.

Father Ramiere states: “What a beautiful day will dawn for the world when in the midst of that society which is now plunged in the disorder of chaos, all Christian souls will spread around them the light of truth, the warmth of charity, the life of grace.”

A century and a half later, we continue the struggle, trusting that God is still in charge of the world, and for those who know and love Him, the burden of trying to make our contribution is shared. By offering our daily works, joys and sufferings through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Immaculate Mother, as is stated in the Morning Offering, each of us participates in promoting this treasured act of prayer.