Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

May 3, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19 in which the psalmist draws on nature’s beauty to praise God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day;
    and night to night imparts knowledge.

Psalm 19: 2-3

Psalm 19 is used today to highlight the apostolic work of Philip and James who chose to declare the Gospel by their lives.

We note that these men are no longer called simply “disciples” or learners of the Word. They are now “apostles”, charged with spreading the Word for the benefit of all.

In our Christian vocations, we each are called to live both these aspects of our call. We are continual learners of the faith through our prayer, reading, and listening.  At the same time, we have an apostolic charge to spread the Gospel by the way we live.


This double call was clearly proclaimed through Vatican II in the magnificent document Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

I remember with great joy how this document, with its companions, released a surge of enthusiastic faith in the People of God when published in the 1960s. Many of us read and re-read our paperback copies of the Documents until they have long since fallen apart.

There is a Kindle edition available, but now when I want to be refreshed by their power, I access them for free on my iPad at the Vatican site:


Here is a favorite passage I used today to inform my prayer on this feast of two apostles

Lumen Gentium
(The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)
promulgated by Pope Paul VI

The laity are gathered together in the People of God and make up the Body of Christ under one head. Whoever they are they are called upon, as living members, to expend all their energy for the growth of the Church and its continuous sanctification, since this very energy is a gift of the Creator and a blessing of the Redeemer.

The lay apostolate, however, is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially Holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and our brothers and sisters which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished. Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth. Thus every lay person, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon them, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself “according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal”.

Besides this apostolate which certainly pertains to all Christians, the laity can also be called in various ways to a more direct form of cooperation in the apostolate of the Hierarchy. This was the way certain men and women assisted Paul the Apostle in the Gospel, laboring much in the Lord. Further, they have the capacity to assume from the Hierarchy certain ecclesiastical functions, which are to be performed for a spiritual purpose.

Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all persons of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.


This morning’s question:
how am I hearing
and responding
to my apostolic call?

Poetry: An Apostle’s Prayer – Edward Henry Bickersteth, Bishop of Exeter (1825-1906)

My God, my Father, let me rest
In the calm sun-glow of Thy face,
Until Thy love in me express’d
Draws others to Thy throne of grace.

O Jesu, Master, let me hold
Such secret fellowship with Thee,
That others, careless once and cold,
Won to my Lord and theirs may be.

Eternal Spirit, heavenly Dove,
The light of life to me impart,
Till fire descending from above
Burns on and on from heart to heart.

O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Still, still may love to love respond;
And teach me, when I love Thee most,
Depths all unfathom’d lie beyond.

Music: The Call – from Five Mystical Songs – Vaughan Williams

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife;
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast;
such a feast as mends in length;
such a strength as makes a guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move:
such a love as none can part;
such a heart as joys in love.

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