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  • Every Catholic an Apostle: A Life of Thomas A. Judge, CM, 1868–1933 by William L. Portier
  • Gerald A. Arbuckle S.M. (bio)
William L. Portier, Every Catholic an Apostle: A Life of Thomas A. Judge, CM, 1868–1933 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2017), 555 pages.

Father Thomas Augustine Judge, CM (1868–1933) in 1909 founded a lay missionary movement, the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate. Out of this movement, two religious congregations were born: one for women, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity in 1919 and one for men, the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity in 1920. Corporately, these groups are known as the Missionary Cenacle Family.

William L. Portier's Every Catholic an Apostle chronicles the many obstacles that hindered, even frustrated, Father Judge's efforts, offering an important analysis of the remarkable achievements of Father Judge. In reviewing Portier's work, I will concentrate on two key issues: Was Judge's charism truly a founding one? Why in his lifetime was his vision of forming a Cenacle Family composed of lay apostles and religious men and women so frustrated? First, what is meant by a founding charism? In response to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, founding persons are people who have experienced a "faith shock." They observe the chasm existing between the Gospel and the world around them, and they are moved to create pastoral strategies to bridge that gulf. Founders are authentic prophets in the Church because they can see and identify a chasm between the Gospel and the world around them. They are contemplatives who act! Only certain people, such as founders, have this gift of prophetic identification and pastoral bridge-building. Others are freely graced by the Holy Spirit to follow these individuals. A founder of any faith-inspired movement, whether lay, religious or clerical, restlessly summons others to conversion and to their pastoral vision. [End Page 145]

Yet even the greatest and most wonderful gift of prophetic action is surpassed by love: "If I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge . . . but do not have love, I am nothing" (1 Cor 13:2). Founders are consumed with love of Christ and his mission—Father Judge refers to this as "charity at white heat." A founder's willing conformity with the mystery of Christ's love—his life, death, and resurrection—inevitably means that a founder is called to suffer, often intensely, in union with Christ. And history shows that the Gethsemanes of founders are most commonly caused by ecclesiastical authorities and/or by people close to them.

Why is this so? Some who oppose them cannot tolerate being challenged by new pastoral insights; others feel their power is threatened; others, even well motivated, simply find a founder's vision too difficult to grasp. Hence, the words of Christ: "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place" (Luke 4:24). The prophet is apt to alienate the pious, the cynics as well as the believers, yet the authentic prophet, with motives purified by suffering, cannot stop being who they are—the one to challenge the status quo with a new vision of church. The ecclesial document on the relationship between religious and bishops, Mutuae Relationes (1983), acknowledges the challenges faced by a founder: "Every genuine charism implies a certain element of genuine originality and of special initiative for the spiritual life of the Church. In its surroundings it may appear troublesome and may even cause difficulties, since it is not always and immediately easy to recognize it as coming from the Spirit" (par.12).

In light of this background, what can be said of Father Judge? Is he an authentic founder? Is his charism unique? Did he "borrow" the charism of the founder of his own congregation, St. Vincent de Paul? As a founding person did Father Judge suffer rejections? How did he cope, as a believer in Christ, with his sufferings? Portier points out clearly that Father Judge was at times severely tested as a founder, yet his spirit and abiding trust in Providence never failed him.

In view of the excellent research by...


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