Ad Gentes 41

It’s a good way to go out with our examination of the documents of Vatican II. We conclude Ad Gentes with a discussion of the role of the laity in promoting and supporting the work of the missions.

Lay(women and) men cooperate in the Church’s work of evangelization; as witnesses and at the same time as living instruments, they share in her saving mission; especially if they have been called by God and have been accepted by the bishop for this work.

Promoting vocations to the missions is part of our role:

In those lands which are already Christian, lay(women and) men cooperate in the work of evangelization by nurturing in themselves and in others a knowledge and love of the missions; by stimulating vocations in their own family, in Catholic associations, and in the schools; by offering subsidies of every kind, that they may offer to others that gift of Faith which they have received gratis.

We also are to serve as models for the laity of young churches, and promote the lay apostolate even as we are called to assist others in the discernment of priesthood or religious life.

But in mission lands, let (the laity), whether foreigners or autochthonous, teach in schools, administer temporal goods cooperate in parish and diocesan activities, and organize and promote various forms of the lay apostolate, in order that the faithful of the young churches may be able to take part as soon as possible in the life of the Church.

The “pay” of “pray, pay, and obey”  falls to us … still. As it should.

Lastly, let lay(people) gladly offer socio-economic cooperation to peoples on the way of development. This cooperation is all the more to be praised, the more it concerns itself with founding institutes which touch on the basic structures of social life, or which are oriented to the training of those who bear the responsibility for the government.

Lay people support the effort of “dialogue.”

Worthy of special praise are those lay(people) who, in universities or in scientific institutes, promote by their historical and scientific religious research the knowledge of peoples and of religions; thus helping the heralds of the Gospel, and preparing for the dialogue with non-Christians.

We also keep ecumenism and interfaith aspects in mind:

They should cooperate in a (familial) spirit with other Christians, with non-Christians, and with members of international organizations, aways having before their eyes the fact that “the building up of the earthly city should have its foundation in the Lord, and should be directed towards Him.”

And we should be trained to do all this:

To be equal to all these tasks, laymen (and women) need the necessary technical and spiritual preparation, which should be given in institutes destined for this; so that their lives may be a witness for Christ among non-Christians, according to the words of the Apostle: “Do not be a stumbling – block to Jews and Greeks and to the Church of God, even as I myself in all things please all (people), not seeking what is profitable to myself but to the many, that they may be saved.” (1 Cor. 10:32-33).

It seems appropriate that a careful and reflective reading of this document would be a good start for either an active, faithful Catholic, or college students. How would you take the next step for yourself, for your family or parish, or for the Church universal, were you to have something to do or say in this regard?

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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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