AA13: Christians in the Community

The lay apostolate par excellence:

… the effort to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws, and structures of the community in which one lives, is so much the duty and responsibility of the laity that it can never be performed properly by others.

The reason, most likely, that clergy do not belong in public office.

In this area the laity can exercise the apostolate of like toward like.

An awkward phrasing for peer ministry.

It is here that they complement the testimony of life with the testimony of the word. It is here where they work or practice their profession or study or reside or spend their leisure time or have their companionship that they are more capable of helping their brethren.

Like prayer, an apostolate is for “all times.” How do lay people do it? Another list:

  • especially by conforming their lives to their faith so that they become the light of the world
  • by practicing honesty in all their dealings so that they attract all to the love of the true and the good and finally to the Church and to Christ
  • by fraternal charity which presses them to share in the living conditions, labors, sorrows, and aspirations of their brethren with the result that the hearts of all about them are quietly prepared for the workings of saving grace
  • a full consciousness of their role in building up society whereby they strive to perform their domestic, social, and professional duties with such Christian generosity that their manner of acting should gradually penetrate the whole world of life and labor
  • reach(ing) out to all wherever they may be encountered
  • not exclud(ing) any spiritual or temporal benefit which they have the ability to confer
  • announc(ing) Christ to their neighbors by means of the spoken word as well.

No future of the Church, either, for “(c)hildren also have their own apostolic work to do. According to their ability they are true living witnesses of Christ among their companions.”

The list, in brief: conformity to faith, honesty, charity, awareness of their role, constant outreach, generosity, direct proclamation of Christ. Most of us excel in one or two of these–that’s not a danger, really. The trap for us lay people would be to put too much trust in any one avenue. For example: to rely on conformity to faith (perhaps interpreted as orthodoxy) at the expense of other aspects of the apostolate. If we’re talking evangelization of non-believers, one is likely to attract like-thinkers. For example, if I were to aspire to be a fine evangelist, I think the mark of excellence would be how many people I have led to the Catholic faith who don’t think like I do. Or as St Paul suggested, being all things to all people, so that some might be saved.

Thoughts?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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