This page is for anyone desiring to do apostolic work, not necessarily for SOCA. Praise God for this desire; we need great apostles! A persevering resolution to serve God is key. Much of the below will probably appear challenging or rigid. But I promise those who follow it will first find incredible delights in the Lord as the central and most meaningful gift you could receive; and what will flow is an apostolate that will be rich, fruitful, abundant, and worth all sacrifices. The glowing attraction (and polarization) of Saints is and always has been the best way of evangelization in the Catholic Church.
There is a preliminary level (generally speaking) one should attain before diving into evangelization efforts, let alone setting oneself as a “missionary-disciple/leader/example”.
Here is what Dom Chautard says: “As long as the active worker has not reached the point where he is habitually recollected and habitually dependent on grace -a dependence and recollection which accompany him everywhere he goes- he is still not in a satisfactory state of the interior life…a soul cannot lead an interior life without the schedule… and a firm resolution to keep it.” -The Soul of the Apostolate, 198.
Once this is the case, you will have advanced sufficiently; if you do not do this, you seriously danger 1) yourself and 2) others. 1) because you are still in the beginning stages where active asceticism rather than cooperatively passive contemplation (infused) where God takes the initiative on the purifying and sustains the soul. Until then, Saint Teresa would say, it is critical to focus on one’s own sanctification, negation and detachment from things, and not become dispersed with concerns for others’ growth because of our pride and sense of self-satisfaction that actually stunts our growth and leads us to digress to even more shallow beginnings. This is obvious in the practical sense: the daily rule of life has not become such an engraved habit that one can presume to add more things to focus on on top of it. 2) because others are influenced by you: they will think your vices and lack of discipline is actually virtuous and acceptable, and thus fall into the same activism you do. But this is even worse because they are formed in this mindset of thinking, and thus reject deeper calls to sanctification by other sources because they think “they know what it means to be Catholic”. Well, I will say I’ve seen this happen personally and it is truly tragic, recognizing the infinite treasure the perfection of just one soul is!
Below is a list of things you should be doing before you endeavor to occupy much time reaching out and doing apostolic/missionary work and evangelization. Think of it as a pyramid that must be built compounded, one habit at a time. Start at the bottom (literally, the bottom of the hyphenated list below); once it is complete then it is a strong and majestic masterpiece ready for purifications of grace given from God through the interior and the apostolate. 10 apostles formed as such will be far more effective than 100 interiorly-lukewarm “disciples” trying to spread the faith.
-a spiritual director you meet with monthly to whom you are accountable to and speak about your interior life with
-45 minutes of mental prayer daily (minimally) [I add here: learning about the traditional liturgy of the Church and formation with a spirit of gravitas that includes supernatural realism with eternal consequences, the effects of original sin, etc.]
-daily habit of creating and keeping a schedule, daily mass multiple times a week
-minimal rule of life: rosary, rising and bed time, set time daily for mental prayer, 15 minutes of spiritual reading, regular study of the faith [I recommend finding a friend or Catholic leader to be accountable to and speak frequently with about accountability–weekly if possible
-minimal Catholic formation: know basics of Catechism (Baltimore Catechism is recommended to start since it is straightforward), read a basic instruction on mental prayer (ex: Conversation with Christ by Father Rohrbach, or Treatise on Mental Prayer by Saint Peter of Alcantara).
-first and foremost 3 criteria: a resolute will (to persevere in embracing the cross in order to advance toward perfection and union with God through the life of prayer and asceticism), discretion and liberty of spirit (retain your common sense and prudence of how to mortify your passions correctly to maximize spiritual energy, not destroy it), and great desires (desire the absolute heights of perfect union with God–spiritual magnanimity)
If you are considering apostolic work, ask yourself if you are ready to build these habits over the course of the next few months. Psychologists say that it takes 40 days to build a habit. There are a lot of habits above and it is difficult to build more than 1-2 at a time, so get started! But do not presume on apostolic endeavors without the above preliminaries in place. So many involved in ministry do this today–what a tragedy for themselves and others! Yes, you may consider this a serious challenge to certain mainstream evangelization efforts among Catholics today where such formation is not emphasized.
If you find yourself already in the apostolate without these habits currently, I strongly advise you to decrease your active work, lest activism lead you to the errors mentioned above.
Almost everything on here is just a synthesis of the mater spiritualium of the Church, Saint Teresa of Avila. She majestically climbed the heights of holiness with mysticism, ascetism, and apostolic work, reforming the Carmelite order in the midst of the Protestant Revolt in the 16th century.