AA 20: The Lay Apostolate in Associations

AA 20 treats it:

Many decades ago the laity in many nations began to dedicate themselves increasingly to the apostolate. They grouped themselves into various kinds of activities and societies which, while maintaining a closer union with the hierarchy, pursued and continue to pursue goals which are properly apostolic.

Getting results was important: there, bishops took notice …

These societies were deservedly recommended and promoted by the popes and many bishops, from whom they received the title of “Catholic Action,” and were often described as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy.

Yes, that would fit: defining an apostolate in terms of ordination, not baptism.

What else? A list for these organizations:

  • Their purpose is evangelization and sanctification. Note the latter is also one of the two main purposes of worship.
  • Cooperating with the hierarchy. Of course.
  • Unity within the organization, so as to reflect the “community of the Church.”
  • The hierarchy retains a certain oversight: “the laity function under the higher direction of the hierarchy itself, and the latter can sanction this cooperation by an explicit mandate.”

I’ve thought lay organizations would benefit more from cross-fertilization than the input of the hierarchy, whose experience in particular apostolates if often quite limited. But it’s a tough challenge, even within lay circles. When I was in the archdiocese of Dubuque, I suggested more intermix among professional organizations of lay ministers: catechists, pastoral associates, liturgy, youth people, etc.. It never seemed to get people excited. But it wasn’t as if we didn’t share some common concerns.

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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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