1- "He must increase, and I must decrease" (Jo:3:30). If you love the Gospel and, above all, try to live it on a daily basis with joy and hope, we would like to have you as a leader representative in your own parish or community or an internal member in any capacity. We challenge you to sincerely fulfill in your own life, St. John the Baptist's dramatically truthful statement for us Christians: "He must increase, but I must decrease." If you agree to give it a try, you will need to learn a little bit more about our programmatic “blueprint” which is a basic set of documents and referentials (links available after signing in) including the Bishop Olmsted's Apostolic Exhortation "Into the Breach," the "Manhattan Declaration," the "Conjugality" as a Higher Vocation Proposition, the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, and our internal General Statute (PDF book-link at the end). This does not necessarily apply to external volunteers, remote workers, friends, all independent contributors such as non-Catholics friends, one-time helpers, and students of our JoAnLab virtual university and their external experts or teachers.
2- In addition, you will need to make a personal commitment (as much as humanly possible), to help us build an "ego-less" and faithful Catholic Fraternity under our "St. Andrew's Formal Pledge" inspired by the St. Andrew's School of Evangelization 'foundational' principle (Missionary Jose Prado Flores) that reminds us that we all should follow the example of the apostle Andrew: Carry "Peters" to Jesus to serve and preach and love the Lord Jesus and His Church more and above ourselves. Despite being the first called by Jesus, the First Apostle (The 'Protokleto') who was the first to know and commit to our Lord, quickly invited his brother Simon to follow Jesus and gladly “cleared the way" so that someone (anyone) better suited may be able to step forward to serve and love our Church better than he and/or with better results.
3- "I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow" (1 Cor 3:6). So no one is anything, but God alone who is bountiful, gives life and makes "things" grow. Were it not for St. Andrew's holiness and humility, he would not have been proud of his brother Peter, our first Pope, as a source of immense joy for himself, but instead would have been jealous of a competitor, an opportunist adversary that dared to betray his self-assumed primacy. When you have people fighting for power and consequently attacking each other, whether covertly or explicitly, it is virtually impossible to accomplish good works. Humility is such a basic virtue that, without it, we cannot acquire any other. The invisible essence of spiritual fecundity comes from humility: “Learn from me, meek and humble of heart,” said Jesus, teaching us by example to wash each other's feet. (“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, so...”). Therefore, under this Pledge, direction, enforcement, leadership and coordination will be carried out only as an act of love, as a real service, by those not only willing to wash other's feet but by expert feet washers who are deeply joyful for the honor to do so as a way of life. How will any brother or sister in the Lord be capable to lay down his or her own life for others, like Jesus challenged us to do, if he or she is incapable of washing other's feet with sincere joy, especially knowing that whatever we do for others, "You did it to Me," said our Lord? In addition, leadership or authority hereto will be carried by internal volunteers that not only will receive nothing, but will need to pay a symbolic fee, after meditating and accepting this Pledge as said above, including its sub-pledge complementary extensions, which is the Sub-pledge of St. Katharine Drexel for all internal members serving in any function, ministry or department related to finances, and the Sub-pledge of St. Stephen and St. Laurence, martyrs and deacons, conceived primarily for our future vocations to the sacrament of the Order as permanent deacons (Sub-pledges' PDF links are available from within the General Statute). Solomon had to threaten to cut the child in half to find out who was the true mother!
4- And no, you don't need to be already a saint to unleash the superpowers hidden in authentic humility. Nevertheless, our Church should have a kind of "zero tolerance" for selfish career or security seekers, especially priests, deacons and all other consecrated members, including whoever works for the Church just because of the salary, but without the proper respect to the Church's authorities and its essential teachings. It's impossible to really fully love our Lord without falling in love with His Church—Mother" & "Teacher"—and even deepening such love and respect as we truly know Her better and better. No one can truthfully say that he or she loves God, but not His Church, or loves The Church but not God; they just can't be separated, as well said by St. Joan of Arc: "About Jesus Christ and His Church, I simply know they are just one thing and we shouldn't complicate the matter". In addition, it's disgusting to see so many sincerely alleging to be in deep union with Christ, regardless of the fact that it is impossible to have a real union with Christ, without, as much as possible, proactive union with all other Christians and as well as non-Christian people of good will, especially the Jewish people, our elder brothers. (John 17:21 "That they all may be One"). Without Unity among us, open to a wide fraternal friendship towards all ("If we do not love all, we love nobody!" said Chiara Lubich), it is increasingly more difficult to understand that there is more joy in giving than receiving, that our Lord came to serve, not to be served. Everything we are and do in The Church, for The Church, as a Church, or on behalf of The Catholic Church should be "Ad majorem Dei gloriam," not ours.
5- Our Lord taught us very clearly. Do you want to be a Christian leader? Be or become the servant of all. Do you want to be the most important? Be the last one, like the Apostle St. Andrew. Don't let your left-hand know the good done by your right one.. In other words, it is better for us and much more "profitable" if nobody knows or learns about our good deeds, but God alone. "Give all, but without expectation or hope of recompense." —St. John XXIII. Wow! How difficult, especially in our neo-pagan, narcissistic society. It is a reality check of whether someone indeed has a real, authentic Christian Faith. Citing the Gospel, Pope Francis reminded us that “service is the way authority is exercised in the Christian community,” adding that "those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church.” Jesus shows us that "he enjoys dominion because he is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life." Francis said that there is "no compatibility" between the worldly understanding of power and the humble service which characterizes true authority to Jesus' own teaching and example. "Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honor, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified."
6- The Church, as God's Kingdom, can be compared, as an illustration for this Pledge, to a gigantic living, organic, mysterious "iceberg." Just a very small portion is visible as humanly prominent and very attractive outside the water. That iceberg's small visible tip outside the water, does not include the Church Triumphant, does not include the Church Suffering (souls in a state of purification), nor the great majority of baptized people and Christian institutions here on earth, and part of the Church militant, including Jesus himself, hidden but really physically present in every tabernacle. Do you want to be really smart? Aim or stay in the 'foundational' hidden portion of this divine "iceberg" under water, maybe anonymously, together with Jesus Eucharist, in communion with angels and saints. It is much more 'profitable,' unless explicitly called by the Divine Spirit to temporarily serve His Kingdom from the top of the "iceberg" under His authority (The Holy Spirit), like Pope Francis is doing. Evidently many other true Catholic holy leaders or coordinators; public visible servants faithful to the 'Magisterium', under the authority of Bishops, Priests, Fathers and Mother Superiors; abbots, abbesses and Deacons also glorify God from the top of the "iceberg." However, for the 'Hierarchic Order,' Humility and Obedience are the backbone for the entire "iceberg" that the Holy Spirit founded 1,984 years ago, in the 'upper room,' with Mary and the Apostles during Pentecost day to distribute and secure the Redemption Christ acquired and paid the ultimate price for, in order to save us by and through His indestructible Church.
7- Some could object and say: "Wait a minute! You are all the way up, expecting too much. To find just one saint alone is hard enough, how can you fulfill several boards and so many volunteer positions? Good luck with that!" No! we are not pretending to be a superior bunch of "saints" but rather gather a lot of sinners sincerely seeking the Lamb of God, who came precisely to delivered from the slavery of sins, those determined to resist and overcome temptations, really following and imitating Him, humble and meek of heart, in His infinite Love for Mankind. A real saint is a sinner that never gives up trying to be better, repenting and restarting again and again until death; therefore receiving from the Holy Spirit at least a minimum of wisdom to understand key basic secrets of authentic Christianity, like almost all good leaders understood and clearly succeeded in applying in their own lives: "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go, if he doesn't mind who gets the credit (Ronald Reagan)." So, we are expecting sincerely practicing Catholics (precisely knowing how weak and dependent we are) with goodwill and enough intelligence to understand the basics of the Gospel: Mat 6:2 "Amen, amen I assure you, they have already received their recompense." Or as also translated: "Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." Just do the math and compare those who have already received their 'payment' on earth with those who are receiving an ongoing hundredfold according to Mark 10:30: "They will receive during life, in return, a hundred times as many homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and things, along with persecution, plus eternal life in the world to come."
8- So, seeking first the Kingdom of God that comes from authentic humility and trust, plus the Evangelical Counsels for consecrated people, is the only way to receive the fullness of truth, joy, hope, peace and true security from the Divine-Providence, which is absolutely infallible for those who really trust our Good Shepherd. For the great majority that wants to consume their lives seeking economic security in the worldly sense, please go get a life out there in the business world. It is a human right to do this (only greed is sinful). The rich good young man did this, despite meeting Jesus. Just do not seek wealth inside the Church, from the Church, or using the Church. Jesus tried to warn that young man that personal wealth is indeed a source of fake security and fake happiness. Our good Lord was likely trying to explain that, although it was possible for him to give without love, it would be impossible to love without giving. Jesus challenged him to raise his standard of giving, instead of his standard of living. Our Lord literally invited him to be really free and easily get rid of fake friends forever by simply embracing "Evangelical Poverty" in order to become perfectly able to follow Him in every level. The rest is history; he refused and left sadly, according to Matt.19:16-30. "Nobody can serve two Lords!" said the only real Lord (Matt.6:24-34). Some people just don't get it, especially those trying to push the so-called "gospel of prosperity" agenda: It’s impossible to serve God and money at the same time, period.
9- Integrity in every level, is presupposed to join. We need to really make our 'Yes be Yes and No be No' (James 5:12), etc. Moreover, when accepted, you will be invited to strive to develop even more integrity, especially intellectual integrity. An honest mind, also regarding yourself, is another prerequisite to anyone, especially Christians, to fulfill our mandate to seek the true, love the true, teach the true, defend the true, suffer for the true and, above all, love the incarnation of The True, which is God Himself made flesh: Our Holy Redeemer, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
10- In addition, at least in our case, the same 'Andrew' principle will apply here at an institutional level: At any time, we hope and pray that some other similar ministry will do better for the benefit of The Church and mankind, so we will help, merge, adapt, complement, supplement, improve, expand, or proudly give away our “Andrew's Project” to any "Peter's Project” if the common good requires it and proper Church authority order it or confirms. "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" should also translate into "Love your neighbor's Ministry as you love your own." If Al-Qaeda and ISIS, trying to beat each other in cruelty and satanic violence, quickly learned to build a competition of evil even without the need of communicating with each other since they do it for supremacy; how much more we real brothers and sisters should learn to listen and to develop a competition of love, seeking Christian unity, when in such a divine competition to build the Kingdom of God, the more we lose, the more we win. Better yet, in any competition of real love, it's impossible to lose in the first place! Paraphrasing Solomon: Unless the Lord builds the house, those who work on it will labor in vain; therefore, if the Lord does not guard and keep the fortress [our Apostolates], in vain the watchman stands to guard it, and its keepers wake up uselessly. Jesus himself already made it abundantly clear: "...apart from Me, you can accomplish nothing!" (John 15:5)
11- Finally, it is impossible not to be disappointed or somehow get involved with bad "apples" when working for the Kingdom of Christ. Michael O'Brien, a very experienced and committed pro-life Canadian Catholic author, speaking about how tough is his Apostolate, which applies on many levels also to our Apostolate, said, "We are opposed by Powers and Principalities that manifest themselves in many ways, such as unexplainable equipment and internet failures; sudden sickness, several times life-threatening, among our staff and their families; service provider breakdowns; serious miscommunication, and much more. We have experienced some days and even weeks that defy rational explanation. We are also daily confronted with deceptions, outright lies, manipulations, and shocking corruption or weakness of influential persons and institutions, including clergy at all levels, law enforcement, court and legislative authorities. This causes severe bewilderment to many, and they usually don't last long with us, sometimes not even a few weeks. But they do last if they have a strong spiritual life. Then one learns to accept and to go with God's inspirations and plans, rather than on our own, learning to trust "absolutely." Nevertheless please don't let your fears stop you. Over-prudence is fake prudence and could be the beginning of cowardly behavior: Nothing can be accomplished by cowards! For heaven’s sake, just keep your promises and learn when to say NO more maturely and realistically. Otherwise, self-protecting barriers, poor or no communications, plus a lot of "white lies" will come automatically. Also, unfortunately, too many people suffer excessively from hypersensitivity. So, please, if you are considering the possibility of joining our community as an internal member or employee, check your coping style. Do you have frequent overreactions? impulsiveness? Is it easy for someone to hurt your feelings? etc. Do you lack a healthy sense of humor? Or do you come with a hidden agenda, strong ideological commitments, or an unteachable personality? If your answer is no, you are welcome to give any internal position a try. We need, for example, to form several Boards and Task-Force Committees or Groups ASAP, hopefully with as many women and elders (grandparents, retired religious, etc) as possible in leadership positions, in any of the following five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. Internal or external volunteers will receive food, lodge, transportation, and clothes, if needed.
HERE IS OUR CURRENT GALLERY OF INTERCESSORS AND OUTSTANDING EXAMPLES, AFTER ST. JOSEPH & MARY, OUR FIRST INTERCESSOR:
12- Even cats know how and when to do it, but we don't, save rare exceptions! Let's write to Pope Emeritus Benedict, thanking and asking him to pray for us, so that we can learn (from him and Jesus: 'humble and meek of heart') that obedience and humility are the foundation for true holiness. "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18: 14
St. Andrew, the First Apostle: Already honored and mentioned. Pledge named after him.
St. John the Evangelist: With St. Joseph, our Gethsemanet model of masculinity. After Jesus, the only perfect Man.
St. Benedict: Father of Monasticism. Representing the 'Contemplational' Dimension (his 12 degrees of humility are summarized below).
St. Francis of Assisi: He personifies the major and basic charism of Poverty. Representing the Diaconal Dimension.
St. Catherine Sienna: She personifies an immense love for our Church. Doctor of the Church.
St. Ignatius of Loyola: He personifies the major and basic charism of Obedience.
St. John Bosco: "Oh my Lord, take from me everything, but give me souls" [just use me to save souls]. Representing the Educational Dimension.
St. Annibale M. Di Francia: A major apostle of the "Rogatio," essential for the fruitfulness of vocational ministries. Representing the Sacerdotal Dimension.
St. Jeanne Jugan: Little Sisters of the Poor's founder, a model of unbelievable humility (comment below).
St. Therese of the Child Jesus & St. Louis Martin, her father: Doctor of the Church, unbelievable trust and wisdom (comment below). Her father, St. Louis Martin, represents our Matrimonial Dimension.
St. Katharine Drexel: Our sister Project (SeBank)'s patroness. Words cannot describe the level of her holiness (comment & link below).
St. André of Montreal: Representing Foundational Dimension. He gathers a collection of crutches, wheelchairs, etc. by the thousands: link here!
Bl. Charles de Foucauld : Pray if you can—sincerely—his personal prayer below. Honest people could need years to be able to do so!
Bl. Paul VI: Our Parent Institution’s Patron, therefore our first Patron. Let's pray his powerful daily prayer to the Holy Spirit: link here!
Bl. Solanus Casey: Humility, patience, obedience, and charity to the extreme, like St. Jugan and St. Andre Montreal (comment below).
Ven. Cardinal Merry Del Val: A powerful Pope's assistant, Secretary of State, etc.; but just read his daily "Litany of Humility" below!
Chiara Lubich: "Lose everything, even the attachment to holiness, so that you aim only at one thing: To Love!" link here!
Ven. Concepción Cabrera de Armida "Conchita": Impossible to describe her love for Christ, the Church, and the Priesthood in just one sentence: link here!
Mother Angelica of Annunciation (EWTN): Trust, courage, and immense love for our Church (comment below).
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: The only alive person in our Gallery. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom we consider a saint, offered a powerful living illustration of St. Andrew's humility when he renounced the Papacy in such a heroic act of obedience, 'clearing the way' so that God could replace him with Pope Francis. Pope Benedict will receive a letter from us, asking for his intercession in unity with all the other saints from this list. (If you can, after reading our gallery, please help us in writing a draft for the Pope Emeritus letter of thanksgiving, also requesting his prayers for this Apostolate.)
13- St. Therese of the Child Jesus is an excellent example that the deeper work that God does in all of us, regardless of our circumstances in life, is to take us to a more profound level of dependence on Him, until He leads us to a condition of spiritual childhood, becoming very little and trusting in God's hands, to do our part and to let him do the rest. She was always comfortable with her "littleness."
14- Mother Angelica, the founder of the EWTN worldwide Catholic Network, used to remind us that "too many people will not take the first step unless they have a multi-year plan, and that this is a mistaken desire to have too much control and certainty. We have to trust in the Lord and do good today while we have the opportunity, with courage, while you do not know how the plan will unfold tomorrow or the next day. God will show us what the next step is at the proper time." She taught us how to be faithful to the Church even when encountering opposition from within. She and her apostolate have had that experience many times. She taught us to trust that "the Church is always bigger than any particular person or institution within it, and that there is always a way to work out family squabbles, without leaving the family." At the same time, she taught us that "at the judgment, we are not going to have to answer for the insight, courage, understanding, vision, or lack thereof on the part of anybody else in the church, including bishops, but only for what we did with the insight, courage, understanding, and vision that the Lord gave personally to us."
15- Charles de Foucauld: (His daily Prayer)
Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You do I thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
as in all Your creatures,
I ask no more than this, my Lord.
Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You, O Lord,
with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, my God, and so need to give myself—
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve and with total confidence,
for You are my Father.
16- St. Katharine Drexel: "And here is the passive way to be filled unto the fullness of God. The passive way to abandon myself to it, not in a multiplicity of trials, extraordinary penance's accomplished, practices of great works, but in peaceful abandonment to the tenderness of Jesus, which I must try to imitate, and by being in constant union with his meek and humble heart." For more info just click here!
17- St. Benedict's 12 degrees of humility: It is not the full text, but an excerpt to help us grab what the Holy Spirit may ask each one of us to work upon or improve. It starts with St. Benedict reminding us that "The Fear of Lord" is the beginning of all wisdom and holiness. 1st- "Is that a man always have the fear of God before his eyes (cf Ps 35:2), ... and that he be ever mindful of all that God hath commanded."
2nd- "Is when a man loves not his own will, nor is pleased to fulfill his own desires, but (...) I came not to do My own will but the Will of Him that sent Me" (Jn 6:38).
3rd- "Is that for the love of God a man subject himself to a Superior in all obedience, imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle said: "He became obedient unto death" (Phil 2:8).
4th- "Is that, if hard and distasteful things are commanded, nay, even though injuries are inflicted, he accept them with patience and even temper, and not grow weary or give up, but hold out..."
5th- "Is when one hides from his Abbot [confessionary] none of the evil thoughts which rise in his heart or the evils committed by him in secret, but humbly confesses them."
6th- "Is when a monk is content with the meanest and worst of everything, and in all that is enjoined him holds himself as a bad and worthless workman."
7th- "Is when, not only with his tongue he declares, but also in his inmost soul believeth, that he is the lowest and vilest of men, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet: 'But I am a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people.'" (Ps 21:7)
8th- "Is when a monk doeth nothing but what is sanctioned by the common rule of the monastery and the example of his elders."
9th- "Is, when a monk withholds his tongue from speaking, and keeping silence doth not speak until he is asked. "
10th- "Is when a monk is not so easily moved or quick for laughter, for it is written: "The fool exalts his voice in a loud laughter." (Sir 21:23)
11th- "Is that, when a monk speaks, he speaks gently, without shouting, humbly and with gravity, with few and sensible words, and that he be not loud of voice,"
12th- "Is when a monk is not only humble of heart, but also appear in his whole exterior to all that he is at the Work of God in the garden, on a journey, in the field, or wherever he may be, sitting, walking, or standing, let him have his head bowed down, . . .sincerely saying to himself what the publican said with his eyes fixed on the ground: "Lord, I am a sinner and not worthy to lift up mine eyes to heaven." (Lk 18:13)
18- Blessed Solanus Casey: (November 25, 1870 – July 31, 1957) He was the first United States-born man to be declared "venerable". He contracted diphtheria at age eight, which permanently damaged his voice. Also due to his limited formal education, he could not become a diocesan priest. With immense humility, he followed the advice to seek a religious order, where he could be ordained a 'simplex' priest, a kind of "second class" priesthood, who could celebrate Mass but would not have the faculties for public preaching or hearing confessions, which he accepted with deep humility, in the footsteps of his father St. Francis that refused it, considering himself unworthy. After ordained, he only received "irrelevant" assignments like door-keeping, his final job for the last 20 years out of 60 of religious life. Nevertheless, he became known during his lifetime as a wonder-worker, a healing prophet, and a powerful intercessor for his great faith, hope, and love. He used to say: "Like the Holy Trinity, Faith, Hope, and Charity are one." No other priest in his community, regardless how many doctorate degrees, ever came close to his skill as a spiritual counselor since Father Solanus frequently had people in line, just for the opportunity to meet him. "Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks." (Fr. Solanus) And when God finally called him "Home" to say "Well Done good and faithful servant," 20,000 people passed by his coffin to thank God for his life prior to his burial. Likewise every other Saint, that was just the beginning of a shower of miracles still flowing nowadays from God's Mercy through his powerful intercession: Hundreds of thousands already have gone to pray at the Fr. Solanus Casey Center, inside the St. Bonaventure Monastery.
19- Saint Jeanne Jugan: (1792 – 1879), also known as Sister Mary of the Cross, L.S.P., was a French woman who became known for the dedication of her life to the neediest of the elderly poor. Her service resulted in the establishment of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who care for the elderly who have no other resources throughout the world. In the winter of 1839, Jugan encountered Anne Chauvin, an elderly woman who was blind, partially paralyzed, and had no one to care for her. Jugan carried her home to her apartment and took her in from that day forward, letting the woman have her own bed. By 1841 she had rented a room to provide housing for a dozen elderly people. The following year, she acquired an unused convent building that could house 40 of them. From this beginning arose a religious congregation called The Little Sisters of the Poor. Jugan wrote a simple Rule of Life, and they went door-to-door daily requesting food, clothing, and money for the women in their care. This became Jugan's life work, and she performed this mission for the next four decades. By 1879, the community Jeanne founded had 2,400 Little Sisters and had spread across Europe and to North America. Jugan, however, was forced out of her leadership role by the Abbé Auguste Le Pailleur, the priest who had been appointed Superior General of her congregation by the local bishop. In an apparent effort to suppress her true role as foundress, he assigned her to do nothing but begging on the streets until Le Pailleur ordered her into a life of obscurity for 27 years. At the time of her death, many of the Little Sisters did not know that she was the one to have founded the congregation. Le Pailleur, however, was investigated and dismissed in 1890, when Mother Jeanne Jugan came to be acknowledged as their foundress. Paul Milcen wrote a book about her, having a title equally valid as a synthesis of her life: "Jeanne Jugan: Humble, So as to Love More!" Like the true mother, under Solomon's decree to cut the child in half, she didn't care about her reputation or personal rights, but solely the Will of God, the survival of her Congregation and the consequent well-being of thousands of elderly with no resources. "In the Beatitudes, she found the source of the spirit of hospitality and fraternal love, founded on unlimited trust in the Divine Providence, which illuminated her whole life" (Pope Benedict XVI, at her canonization).
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"By this, all men will know that you are My disciples: If you have love for one another, as I have loved you." (John 13:34-35)
"Greed stinks! The 'ambition' of doing Good for others, is what should have no limits!"
(Pope Paul VI Foundation: 42th anniversary "ora et labora"!)