Friday, June 3, 2011

Your Personal Apostolate: Accepting and Sharing the Love of God

A series of posts presenting the contents of the book, an award-winning love story for every soul.

Please share the link with anyone
who would benefit from the message.

God is at work in you!

Not sure what God has in store for you?
His plans are wondrous, loving and beautiful.

Accept Him, seek Him, love Him,
and return His love to those around you.

Prepare to be amazed, for
God is at work in you!

"This book appealingly presents a simple theme for
the lifetime work of every Christian. Each chapter
begins with a lengthy scripture quote given highlighted
prominence and ends with pointed questions for reflection
and a closing prayer."

-Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada

+ + +

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together,
and one of them,
a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,

’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the greatest and first commandment.
And a second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
On these two commandments
hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40

This book is dedicated to
and was written for

May every soul seek
to accept, return, and share
The love of God
which is
all encompassing,
never ending,
can never be contained.


Each of us has an unique personal apostolate whose genesis is God’s Love. All that we are and all that we possess comes from God. Thus, all that we give is an extension of His immense love. As God’s instruments, we must strive to be holy as we cultivate and nurture our personal apostolate and give of ourselves throughout our lives in loving service. Our efforts to accept, return, and share God’s Love are crucial to the formation and fulfillment of our life’s work.

As stated by St. Therese of Lisieux, “God has no need for anyone to carry out His work, I know, but just as He allows a clever gardener to raise rare and delicate plants, giving him the necessary knowledge for this while reserving to Himself the care of making them fruitful, so Jesus wills to be helped in His divine cultivation of souls” (Story of a Soul) 1.

God’s Plans are awesome and wondrous, and include each one of us! May we approach our personal apostolate with tremendous excitement and great joy, relying on His strength and guidance always.


Can you remember a time when someone did something that made you feel special? Perhaps you received a surprise compliment, were recognized for something you did, or a person gifted you with something you wanted. Reflect on how that gesture made you feel. Perhaps you felt joy, acceptance, approval, appreciation, validation, or closeness to the giver. Perhaps you felt the desire to reciprocate in some way.

Now reflect on how it feels to know that all that you are and everything you have were given to you by God. Keep in mind that the genesis of all He does is His great love for us. Hopefully this awareness causes you to feel joy, acceptance, approval, appreciation, validation, and closeness to God. Certainly if we recognize love shown to us by other people, we should also recognize God in every loving gesture, for He is the original source of every act of love.

You are very, very special to God. Have you ever heard the expression that God is never outdone in generosity? That is true, because all things seen and unseen come from Him. God constantly communicates with us and affirms us in many ways. He wants us all to feel loved, valued, and wanted, because He loves, values, and wants us! He is the one who gave us our very first gift: the gift of life.

Just think, God created each one of us uniquely, out of love alone. After creating us, He continually bestows His love upon us and remains with us each and every day throughout our lives. God demonstrates His loving presence in countless ways, continuously communicating with us and beckoning us into relationship with Him. His method of communication varies depending on the situation. God may be profound or simple, humorous or serious. He is very symbolic and unfathomably loving. His infinite love is reflected in everything He does! Consider just a few of the many ways God shows you His love each day.

In very basic terms, God loves each one of us directly and indirectly. At times He chooses to communicate with us directly, one-on-one. Often He communicates with us
indirectly, through something or someone. For example, God’s love can be detected through the use of our senses in the world He created. Think of seeing beautiful flowers or enjoying the taste of your favorite food. God also loves us through the events and circumstances in our lives, beckoning us throughout every situation into relationship with Him.

Perhaps the sweetest of ways God loves us indirectly is through other people. Have you ever received a supportive phone call or an offer of help just when you needed one? Remember when someone was kind to you? That was God loving you through other people. Have you ever felt inspired to do something for someone else? That was God loving through you!

God designed a very special unit in which He wants each person to experience the joy of being loved, valued, and wanted. This unit is the family. Family members are mutually responsible for giving His love to and receiving His love from one another. God’s love for us should find its first expression within our families. This is where each personal apostolate begins and is initially shaped.

Parents and caregivers have a vital apostolate as providers of love to those God placed in their care. They have a tremendous responsibility to be faithful to their vocation as His instruments of love. Likewise, every family member is responsible for sharing and accepting God’s love. In this seemingly ordinary giving and receiving of love, we come to see God in one another. May we ask Him regularly to aid us in the vital work of sharing His love with those in our family.

Perhaps you received God’s love from the people in your family. Perhaps you received God’s love from some of the people in your family. Perhaps you did not receive the nurturing and love God meant for you to have from those closest to you. Rest assured that even before your family or any other person knew you, God knew you. God loved you then, God loves you right now, and God will always love you!

Sometimes accepting God’s love, loving Him in return, and sharing His love with others are not easy. We can be hurt by the actions of other people or by certain events in our lives. Sometimes we are hurt by the effect our own choices have had on ourselves and on other people. Fortunately God has the power to heal our past hurts, disappointments, and failures, and He respectfully awaits our permission to purify, heal, and strengthen us.

When we acknowledge and accept His love, and ask for and accept His healing and forgiveness, He liberates us so we can proceed unrestrained, with hope and joy. With our approval, He works in us and through us. God provides the healing, courage, and strength to forgive ourselves and others, and He is constantly loving and forgiving us. When we place ourselves at God’s service, miracles happen. We become more willing to accept love and to love in return. How beautiful!

Perhaps you are ready to embark upon the greatest and most important relationship of your life: your relationship with God. Maybe you have already taken that step and now aspire to deepen your relationship with Him. The contents of each chapter in this book are structured around one basic theme: Your life has great purpose, and accepting, returning, and sharing God’s love are crucial to the development and fulfillment of that purpose. Your purpose is your personal apostolate. The goal of this book is to provide you with an understanding of how crucial the love of God is to your existence and assist you as you discern the will of God throughout your life. “If you live for Christ, not the slightest moment of your life goes to waste” (Fulton J. Sheen, Our Grounds for Hope) 2.

This first chapter acknowledges that we are loved by God. In the following chapters we will consider accepting His love and loving Him in return. Finally, we will be challenged to be instruments of God’s love. Hopefully God’s great love for every one of us will resonate on every page. Let us ask God for a greater awareness of the many ways that He loves us, invites us into a more intimate relationship with Him, rejoices when we love Him back, and encourages us to share His great love with others.

We Are Loved: A Personal Reflection

A personal reflection of mine concludes each chapter. Perhaps you will recognize some of your own triumphs and struggles in my reflections, or know of someone with a similar story to tell. While each person is an unique gift to the world with individual experiences, we all have a great deal in common. Most importantly, we have God in common! We are all loved unconditionally by Him, and each of us has a personal apostolate through which we share His love with one another.

Great things are accomplished through the power of God’s love. Hopefully my personal reflections will be thought provoking for you as you conclude each chapter. They are followed by questions for you to consider. I invite you to ponder the questions and apply your responses to the main idea of each chapter. Hopefully your insights will be beneficial to your relationship with God and as you define and develop your walk with Christ.

My nuclear family is close and somewhat smaller in size. My much larger extended family spans across several continents. I was married and abundantly blessed with three extraordinary children, two sons and a daughter. I am very grateful for having experienced the love of God and the love of many people in my life. God has been exceedingly generous with me and has persevered in His work with me. My life is very joyful and full.

My personal history includes great trials as well as many triumphs. When I was 17 my father died of a heart attack. He was 46. Twelve years later my first child was born with a severe food allergy. He was in agony for five months as we sought an accurate diagnosis. A severe allergy to milk had caused bleeding ulcers in his intestines. For two years he could not eat anything containing milk. As his nursing mother, I also had to eliminate all milk products from my diet. I remained on the elimination diet while nursing three children over the course of six years.

Just before my children were born I began working on a Ph.D. in Psychology. I already had a Masters Degree, and was eager to complete my doctorate and focus on my greatly anticipated apostolate of motherhood. I continued meeting the requirements for the degree through the arrivals of my three children. The day my dissertation proposal was accepted, my advisor called to inform me that there had been personal infighting within my committee and several members reversed their decision to accept my work. At that moment I was unjustifiably stopped from completing my final requirement. Even with a justifiable reason, I still had an one year grace period left to complete the final requirement. When I brought that to the attention of my department, the grace period was denied me as well, and no formal reason was ever given for that decision, either.

When all was said and done, I was denied the Ph.D. I had earned because several members of the department did not like one another. While I had heard of this happening before, I never thought that would happen to me. After years of study, the cost of tuition, having passed first year exams, having earned a scholarship, having passed written and oral qualifying exams, and having completed my dissertation proposal, the unthinkable had happened! I was in shock, I was angry, but mostly I was extremely frustrated.

Certainly the unfairness was very difficult to take. The school ombudsman said there was nothing he could do. Not only had plans years in the making abruptly changed, but I was terribly wronged in the process. Despite my best efforts, things had not worked out the way I had planned. One day the Holy Spirit inspired my sister to tell me that the only possible explanation was that for some reason, God had allowed the injustice. That was my first major confrontation with the Will of God versus the will of Michele. Resignation was not even a word in my vocabulary!

Little did I know that I was in training for what was to come next. A month after receiving the final word regarding my degree, the world as I knew it ended when my children and I stopped by the mailbox on our way to the store. I had been served with divorce documents, and the papers had been filed on my birthday. Eighteen months later the marriage that was to last a lifetime officially ended. Before, during, and after the divorce, my children and I were persecuted relentlessly for seven years.

Just like Jesus’ Crucifixion was followed by His Glorious Resurrection, my suffering led to great personal triumph. I was granted the tremendous grace of an unwavering faith and constant trust in God through many bleak moments. Nevertheless, the pain was very real. God did not take away my pain and for good reason, for it was during my trials that I experienced remarkable spiritual and personal growth that I know would not otherwise have been possible. God was always present loving, comforting, helping, teaching, and guiding me.

During that great trial, God very tenderly beckoned me into a deeper personal relationship with Him. Note that His most profound invitations did not come when things in my life were going well. Through frequent reception of the Eucharist, regular Reconciliation, Eucharistic Adoration, and prayer, God provided me the strength to get through each day, grieve, forgive, consider a different path, become excited about the future, recapture joy, and embrace my evolving apostolate. How crucial it is to remember not to discard our faith when we need God the most! We must persevere and not abandon Him during trials, for He remains with us and He has important plans for us.

One particularly difficult day, I went into church to pray about my continuing hardships, and immediately I was assured “Your prayers are working.” That revelation from a compassionate God who shared my pain helped me to continue trusting in Him and to remain faithful. While it took years for me to see great proof through my eyes that my prayers were working, the work was indeed in progress, and He clearly manifested Himself in countless delightful ways. We must remember that God knows and sees things that we do not. Through it all, He has taken very good care of my children and me, especially when we needed Him the most.

We Are Loved: For the Reader

Think of some ways you have received love from other people. What have you done for other people to make them feel loved? How has God loved you directly, through your senses, or through circumstances in your life? How has God loved you through other people? What are some of the sweetest ways He has shown His love for you? What actions have you taken to love Him in return?

Dear Lord,
Thank You for loving me
in so many different ways,
directly and indirectly,
through senses and circumstances.
I especially thank You
for loving me
through the people You put in my life
to love me in Your place.
I love you back!

Chapter 2 ~ Following the Holy Family

Chapter 3 ~ Called to Faith

Chapter 4 ~ Accepting God's Love

Chapter 5 ~ Loving God Back

Chapter 6 ~ Sharing Jesus' Passion

Chapter 7 ~ His Resurrection and Our Journey

Chapter 8 ~ The Crucial Role of Sanctity

Chapter 9 ~ The Greatest Commandment

In Conclusion