The 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?