Q – What is meant by an apostolate of an individual and/or community?
A – This is something with which everyone is struggling. The apostolate of a community or group is something it has decided they are going to do as a result of their prayer.
One example: I belong to a small community in Idaho – our community Apostolate is a Carmelite retreat held in the even years. We reserve a certain number of seats for a silent retreat and welcome anyone who wants to attend. If they have insufficient funds, we offer scholarships so they may attend. It began originally hoping to receive vocations through it, but we have been doing it for six to seven times or so and, in that time period, have only received one vocation.
The individual apostolate can vary greatly. It also ought to be something that results from that individual’s prayer. As contemplative pray-ers, it does not mean we always sit in the corner and pray for the church or for priests or that type of prayer. Some people cling to the notion that that is their apostolate. If people are truly praying contemplatively, God will sooner or later jerk them out into the market place to do something; maybe something pro-life, or maybe something small, but God works with every individual where they are and who they are. One community has around seventeen professed members. One professed member is very strong in the pro-life movement and originally came to the community with an agenda of making all members pro-lifers, trying to get everyone else on board, but each person is different and must pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is telling him or her.