Taking a quick look at AA 15 & 16 this morning…
The Council states the obvious:
The laity can engage in their apostolic activity either as individuals or together as members of various groups or associations.
The individual apostolate, flowing generously from its source in a truly Christian life (cf. John 4:14), is the origin and condition of the whole lay apostolate, even of the organized type, and it admits of no substitute.
The Council asks if one’s life is a manifest sign of the gospel:
There are many forms of the apostolate whereby the laity build up the Church, sanctify the world, and give it life in Christ. A particular form of the individual apostolate as well as a sign specially suited to our times is the testimony of the whole lay life arising from faith, hope, and charity.
The Council suggests we have higher standards in our lives that are obvious to others:
Furthermore, in collaborating as citizens of this world, in whatever pertains to the upbuilding and conducting of the temporal order, the laity must seek in the light of faith loftier motives of action in their family, professional, cultural, and social life and make them known to others when the occasion arises. Doing this, they should be aware of the fact that they are cooperating with God the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier and are giving praise to Him.
As I read this, it occurs to me that chanceries have not held themselves to this standard in dealing with the legal challenges of the day. Do Catholic lawyers compromise themselves as lay apostles by conducting legal cases on behalf of the Church with no clearly “loftier” motives?
Finally, the laity should vivify their life with charity and express it as best they can in their works.
They should all remember that they can reach all men and contribute to the salvation of the whole world by public worship and prayer as well as by penance and voluntary acceptance of the labors and hardships of life whereby they become like the suffering Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 4:10; Col. 1:24).
“Offering it up” endorsed by Vatican II.
I was thinking of this whole section in light of the reviews I’ve read on John Allen’s Opus Dei book. My wife has been busy with a crunch of classwork lately. She’s also been feeling under the weather the past week or two. So I’ve been asked to feed the rabbits a few nights I’d rather go to bed early, slap in a cd and read my book. The bunnies are cute, but preparing their fresh greens and hay: these pets were my wife’s idea and her project, not mine. I grumbled when I figured out how much we spend monthly in feeding these pets. But it’s a good thing for me to consent, feed the prey (cats and dog are the “predators”), and even do so as I talk to them like Anita does.
I have a hard time seeing this as “suffering,” though. It’s a bother, and more of a small emotional one than anything grave. But I think I can benefit from carefully watching my attitude as I … ick … offer things up. Being in service to others in ministry puts me in a position of doing those extra things often enough. But directing my attitude as I do these things: there seems to lie the real challenge.