At the dawn of the age of Modernism in whose darkness and confusion we are now plunged, Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, a Trappist, saw clearly the eternal pitfalls awaiting would-be servants of God who subordinated their interior lives to the spirit of activism. His The Soul of the Apostolate, first published a century ago, proclaims to Christians of all times the need to be formed in the interior life — at the heart of which must be the Holy Mass — before setting out to reform the world around us.
Dom Chautard notes, with uncanny prescience, that not everyone is convinced or edified by activist clerics, religious, and laity.
A well-known enemy of the Church dared to say that he was unable to believe in the fidelity of certain persons to their vows and obligations, since they were forced by their works to mix freely in the life of the world. “They are walking a tightrope,” he said, “they are bound to fall.” We must answer this insult to God and His Church by replying, without hesitation, these falls can be most certainly avoided when one knows how to use the precious balancing pole of the interior life. It is only the abandonment of this infallible instrument that brings dizziness and the fatal false step into space.
That admirable Jesuit, Fr. Lallemont, takes us right back to the first cause of these disasters when he says: “There are many apostolic workers who never do anything purely for God. In all things, they seek themselves, and they are always secretly mingling their own interests with the glory of God in the best of their work. And so they spend their life in this intermingling of nature and grace. Finally death comes along, and then alone do they open their eyes, behold their deception, and tremble at the approach of the formidable judgment of God.”