By Tess Wahlmeier
LINCOLN (SNR) - The Apostles of the Interior Life, a religious group of brothers and sisters, have visited the Newman Center three times this year, offering spiritual direction, formation, and one-on-one sessions for students.
Thus far, they have been focusing on discernment. Their first visits were geared toward preparing students for discernment, teaching them that in order to discern anything, they have to know what the ultimate goal is – holiness – and that there are basic things like prayer and interior freedom that must come before discernment can happen. The next time they visit, they will teach on the discernment of spirits.
Father Scott Kallal of the Apostles of the Interior Life said college students are just one category of people they reach out to.
“They’re making big decisions, they’re trying to figure out life and everything, and so they’re hungry. They want to know – how do I pray? How do I make a good decision? How do I discern my vocation?” he said. “It’s people waiting for someone to say, ‘hey, here’s the 2,000-year Catholic tradition of how to do all this stuff that you’re trying to figure out. It’s already figured out and all I have to do is hand it to you.’”
The Apostles of the Interior Life started in Italy, and now are present on two college campuses, the University of Kansas and Texas A&M University. They also have a house in Overland Park, Kan. Their mission is to help others understand and discern the interior life.
“We all have an exterior life: we all need food, we need sleep,” Father Kallal said. “Interior life is: what is God doing in your soul? How is the Spirit moving in you? Who has He called you to be? Why did he put you on this earth? What is your mission? You’re a child of God. We’re all a child of God, but what is your God-given name? That’s the interior life! Who are you, why are you here, and how are you going to live that out?”
As an Apostle of the Interior life, the brother and sisters work on their own interior lives through prayer and study, and then are sent out to help others.
Father Kallal said that when they’ve visited the Newman Center in the past, he’s been amazed by the openness of the students to receiving their help.
“There have been some beautiful, emotional moments,” he said. “There definitely has been a lot of grace of seeing people who were struggling with this, that, or the other thing . . . I’m impressed at how quickly and easily the students open up to us in the one-on-one and how much grace flows from that being open and brutally honest. God’s grace shows up and does amazing things when you’re willing to be that honest with yourself and with whoever it is that you’re talking to and with our Lord.”
Father Robert Matya, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church and vocations director for the Diocese of Lincoln, said he has also seen the impact the Apostles of the Interior Life have had on the students.
“In conversations that I’ve had with students, they’ve brought up things that have happened during their individual meetings with them that’s been helpful, so I’ve definitely seen the fruit from their visits,” he said.
“[The Apostles of the Interior Life] are joyful, and students are attracted to them, I think for that reason. They just are able to give real, fundamental direction in terms of how – for example, on discernment of spirits – to help you figure out what things are coming from God and what things are coming from other places,” Father Matya said.
“I’ve seen some really great campuses, and one of the things that impresses me the most about UNL is the devotion at Mass of many of the students there,” Father Kallal said. “The reverence in the liturgy, in the readers and the servers, the acolytes, the priests, and also the students receiving Communion and all of that is very impressive. You don’t see that a lot of places that I’ve been to, at least at the level that you see it there, so that has been very edifying.
“You can definitely tell that God is working there already,” he continued, “and so it’s nice for us just to be able to walk into that setting and find the table is set, and all we have to do is come in and do our thing.”
Although the Apostles of the Interior Life are not permanently stationed on UNL campus, Father Kallal said he’s confident in the students’ abilities to evangelize others on campus.
“If we form these people well, they’re the people who are on the ground every day,” he said. “They’re the people who can reach out to their roommates, to their classmates, to their sorority sisters, to their fraternity brothers, to the other kids on the track team.”
To learn more about the Apostles of the Interior Life, visit their website at www.en.apostlesofil.com/.