RCIA 75.4: The Apostolic Life

img_6803The last of the four ways to guide catechumens toward Christian maturity is described in one mere sentence:

4. Since the Church’s life is apostolic, catechumens should also learn how to work actively with others to spread the Gospel and build up the Church by the witness of their lives and by professing their faith. (Ad Gentes 14)

Among some believers, the principles behind the adjective “active” are not always virtues. Naturally, I disagree with this. Some of my formation as an adult believer involved exposure to the Cistercians, and to the Madonna House apostolate, in which manual labor, an outward grounded activity, is valued. It went against my own physical awkwardness, but I thought I perceived the wisdom as it was taught to me. The notion of emphasizing an “actual” rather than an “active” participation: something that suited me fine when I was an introverted young person who preferred reticence to open sharing. In a way, it is easier to hide in passivity and mask it as “actual” participation.

I think the framers of RCIA were correct to insist on engaging catechumens in an active life from the beginning of their adoption into the Church. Some interpret this fourth way as suggestive of social justice, or charity, or almsgiving. These aspects of Christianity are part of it. But note that even before baptism, men and women are asked to give witness to the Gospel through their lives and their beliefs. The catechumenate period is a perfect time to begin this. What do you think?

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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.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, RCIA, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to RCIA 75.4: The Apostolic Life

  1. Jim McK says:

    “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” Acts 2:42

    This is a common standard in the Church, as when it justifies the fourfold division of the catechism. It seems like it is being used here for the four ways of the catechumenate: suitable catechesis, communal life, liturgy, but then apostolic life instead of ‘the prayers’. Apostolic life would be the next thing, since the next sentence in Acts is about the great works performed by the community.

    Is #3 supposed to subsume both the breaking of the bread and the prayers? What about private prayer? The last section of the catechism is on the Lord’s prayer. Isn’t that an important part of becoming a Christian?

    Any thoughts on what is going on here?

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