AA 17: Lay People In Isolation

AA17 treats the situation of isolated Catholics:

There is a very urgent need for this individual apostolate in those regions where the freedom of the Church is seriously infringed. In these trying circumstances, the laity do what they can to take the place of priests, risking their freedom and sometimes their life to teach Christian doctrine to those around them, training them in a religious way of life and a Catholic way of thinking, leading them to receive the sacraments frequently and developing in them piety, especially Eucharistic devotion. While the sacred synod heartily thanks God for continuing also in our times to raise up lay persons of heroic fortitude in the midst of persecutions, it embraces them with fatherly affection and gratitude.

The individual apostolate has a special field in areas where Catholics are few in number and widely dispersed. Here the laity who engage in the apostolate only as individuals, whether for the reasons already mentioned or for special reasons including those deriving also from their own professional activity, usefully gather into smaller groups for serious conversation without any more formal kind of establishment or organization, so that an indication of the community of the Church is always apparent to others as a true witness of love. In this way, by giving spiritual help to one another through friendship and the communicating of the benefit of their experience, they are trained to overcome the disadvantages of excessively isolated life and activity and to make their apostolate more productive.

In part, this section spoke to the reality of Catholics behind the Iron Curtain as well as scattered believers in mission lands. Today, internet communication and wider human settlement makes geographical isolation less of an imposed choice. I do think a substantial case exists that today’s society produces more alienation and isolation, though we have a few more billion souls sharing the planet.I wonder how the council bishops would treat internet communications and their use among Catholics today. What seems to be a golden opportunity for sharing of information, resources, and faith, has instead become a battleground for competing ideologies. For all the complaints about Vatican II being poorly implemented or hijacked or coopted by the modern culture, it seems that particular fault has come back to haunt most all of us online. Instead of making our internet lives patterned on the saints, we choose instead our favorite media figure.

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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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