Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Chapter I, n. 2) – These reflections on apostolate of the laity are of interest with regard to the apostolate Opus Dei members carry out in society. Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, no. Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem). Victor Clore . English translation in ). This book was quite popular with theologians, and. (The following is a summary of Apostolicam Actuositatem, of the Second Vatican Council. It retains the original preface and the chapter and numbering.
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To intensify the apostolic activity of the people of God, 1 apostolucam most holy synod earnestly addresses itself to the laity, whose proper and indispensable role in the mission of the Church has already been dealt with in other documents. Sacred Scripture clearly shows how spontaneous and fruitful such activity was at the very beginning of the Church cf. Our own times require of the laity no less zeal: With a constantly increasing population, continual progress in science and technology, and closer interpersonal relationships, the areas for the lay apostolate have been immensely widened particularly in actuosiratem that have been for the most fnglish open to the laity alone.
These factors have also occasioned new problems which demand their expert attention and study. This apostolate becomes more imperative in view of the fact that many areas of human life have become increasingly autonomous.
This is as it should be, but it sometimes involves a degree of departure from the ethical and religious order and a serious danger to Christian life. Besides, in many places where priests are very few or, in some instances, deprived of due freedom for priestly work, the Church could scarcely exist and function without the activity of the laity.
An indication of this manifold and pressing need is the unmistakable work being done today by the Holy Spirit in making apostoicam laity ever more conscious of their own responsibility and encouraging them to serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances.
In this decree the Council seeks actuksitatem describe the nature, character, and diversity of the lay apostolate, to state its basic principles, and to give pastoral directives for its more actuosiratem exercise. All these should be regarded as norms when the canon law, as it pertains to the lay apostolate, is revised.
The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, 1 and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ.
All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate, which the Church carries on in various ways through all her members. For the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate.
No part of the structure of a living body is merely passive but has a share in the functions as well as life of the body: Indeed, the organic union in this body and the structure of the members are so compact that the member who fails to make his proper contribution to the development of the Church must be said to be useful neither to the Church nor to himself.
In the Church there is a diversity of ministry but a oneness of mission. Christ conferred on the Apostles and their successors the duty of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in His name and power. But the laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world.
They exercise the actuosittaem in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and eenglish the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ.
The laity derive the right and duty to the apostolate from their union with Christ the head; incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body through Baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation, they are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord Actuoxitatem.
They are consecrated for the royal priesthood and the holy people cf.
The apkstolicam, however, especially the most holy Eucharist, communicate and nourish that charity which is apstolicam soul of the entire apostolate. One engages in the apostolate through the faith, hope, and charity which the Holy Spirit diffuses in actkositatem hearts of all members of the Church. Indeed, by the precept of charity, which is the Lord’s greatest commandment, all the faithful are impelled to promote the glory of God through the coming of His kingdom and to obtain eternal life for all men-that they may know the only true God and Him whom He sent, Jesus Christ cf.
On all Christians therefore is laid the preeminent responsibility of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world. For the exercise of this apostolate, the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies the people of God through ministry and the sacraments gives the faithful special gifts also cf.
From the acceptance of these charisms, including those which are more elementary, there arise for each believer the right and duty to use them apowtolicam the Church and in the world for the good of men and the building up of the Church, in the freedom of the Holy Spirit who “breathes where He wills” John 3: This should be done by the laity in communion with their brothers in Christ, especially with their pastors who must make a judgment about the true nature and proper use of these gifts not to extinguish the Spirit but to test all things and hold for what is good cf.
Since Christ, sent by the Father, is the source and origin actuosiyatem the whole apostolate of the Church, the success of the lay acuositatem depends upon the laity’s living union with Christ, in keeping with the Lord’s words, “He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing” John This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is nourished by spiritual aids which are common to all the faithful, especially active participation in the sacred liturgy.
In this way the laity must make progress in englih in a happy and ready spirit, trying prudently and patiently to overcome difficulties. Such a life requires a continual exercise of faith, actuosigatem, and charity. Only by the light of faith and by meditation on the word of God can one always and everywhere recognize God in Whom “we live, and move, and have our being” Acts They who have this faith live in the hope of the revelation of the sons of God and keep in mind the cross and resurrection of the Lord.
In the pilgrimage of this life, hidden with Christ in God and free from enslavement to aposstolicam, they aspire to those riches which remain forever and generously dedicate themselves wholly to the advancement of the kingdom of God and to the reform and improvement of the temporal order in a Christian spirit. Among the trials of this life they find strength in hope, convinced that “the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in actuosktatem Rom.
Impelled by divine charity, they do good to all men, especially to those of the household of the faith cf. This charity of God, “which is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Rom. Following Jesus aapostolicam His poverty, they are neither depressed by the lack of temporal goods nor inflated by their abundance; imitating Christ in His humility, they have no obsession for empty honors cf. Promoting Christian friendship among themselves, they help one another in every need whatsoever.
This plan for the spiritual life of the laity should take its particular character from their married or family state or their single or widowed state, rnglish their state of health, and from their professional and social activity. They should not cease to develop earnestly the qualities and talents bestowed on them in accord with these conditions of life, and they should make use of the gifts which they have received from the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the laity who have followed their vocation and have become members of one of the associations or institutes approved apostolcam the Church try faithfully to adopt the special characteristics of the spiritual life which are proper to them as well.
They should also hold in high esteem professional skill, family and civic spirit, achuositatem the virtues relating to social customs, namely, honesty, justice, sincerity, kindness, and courage, without which no true Christian life can exist. The perfect example of this type of spiritual and apostolic life is the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles, who while leading the life common to all here on earth, one filled with family concerns and labors, was always intimately united with her Son and in an entirely unique way apoatolicam in the work of the Savior.
Having now been assumed into heaven, with her maternal charity she cares for these brothers of her Son who are still on their earthly pilgrimage and remain involved in dangers and difficulties until they are led into the happy fatherland.
Christ’s redemptive work, while essentially concerned with the salvation of men, includes also the renewal of the whole temporal order.
Ehglish the mission of the Church is not only to bring the message and grace of Apoztolicam to men but actyositatem to penetrate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel.
Summary of Apostolicam Actuositatem | Shaun McAfee
In fulfilling this mission of the Church, the Christian laity exercise their apostolate both in the Church and in the world, in both the spiritual and the temporal orders. These orders, although distinct, are so connected in the singular plan of God that He Himself intends to raise up the whole world again enflish Christ and to make it a new creation, initially on earth and completely on the last day.
In both orders the layman, being simultaneously a believer and a citizen, should be continuously led by the same Christian conscience. The mission of the Church pertains to the salvation of men, which is to be achieved by belief in Christ and by His grace.
The apostolate of the Church and of all its members is primarily designed to manifest Christ’s message by words and deeds and dnglish communicate His grace to the world. This is done mainly through the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, entrusted in a special way to the clergy, wherein the laity also have emglish very important roles to fulfill if they are to be “fellow workers for the truth” 3 John 8.
It is especially on this level that the apostolate of the laity and the pastoral ministry are mutually complementary. There are innumerable opportunities open to the laity for the exercise of their apostolate of evangelization and sanctification. The very testimony of their Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have the power to draw men to belief and to God; for the Lord says, “Even so let your light shine apsotolicam men in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Matt.
However, an apostolate of this kind does not consist only in the witness of one’s way of life; engilsh true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life. Since, in our own times, new problems are arising and very serious errors are circulating which tend to undermine the foundations of religion, the moral order, and human society itself, this sacred synod earnestly exhorts laymen-each according to his own gifts of intelligence and learning-to be more diligent in doing what they can to explain, defend, and properly apply Christian principles to the problems of our era in accordance with the mind of the Church.
God’s qctuositatem for the world is that men should work together to renew and constantly perfect the temporal order. All those things which make up the temporal order, namely, the good things of life and the prosperity of the family, culture, economic matters, the arts and professions, the laws of the political community, international relations, and other matters of this kind, as well as their development and progress, not only aid in the attainment of man’s ultimate goal but also possess their own intrinsic value.
This value has been established in them by God, whether they are considered in themselves or as parts of the whole temporal order. This natural goodness of theirs takes on a special dignity as a result of their relation to the human person, for whose service they were created.
Summary of Apostolicam Actuositatem
It has pleased God to unite all things, both natural and supernatural, in Christ Jesus “so that in all things He may have the first place” Col. This destination, however, not only does not deprive the temporal order of its independence, its proper goals, laws, supports, and significance for human welfare but rather perfects the temporal order in its own intrinsic strength and worth and puts it on a level with man’s whole vocation upon earth.
In the course of history, ejglish use of temporal things has been marred by serious vices. Affected by original sin, men have frequently fallen into many errors concerning the true God, the nature of man, and the principles of the moral law.
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This has led to the corruption of morals and human institutions and not rarely to contempt for the human person himself. In our own time, moreover, those who have trusted excessively in the progress of the natural sciences and the technical arts have fallen into an idolatry of temporal things and have become their slaves rather than their masters.
The whole Church must work vigorously in order that men may engllsh capable of rectifying the distortion of the temporal order and directing it to God through Christ. Pastors must clearly alostolicam the principles concerning the purpose of creation and the use of temporal things and must offer the moral and spiritual aids by which the temporal order may be renewed in Christ. The laity must take up the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation.
Actuoditatem by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church and motivated by Christian charity, apoztolicam must act directly and in a definite actkositatem in the temporal sphere.
As citizens they must cooperate with other citizens with their own particular skill and on their own responsibility. Everywhere and in all things they must seek the justice of God’s kingdom. The temporal aposttolicam must be renewed in such a way that, without detriment to its own proper laws, it may be brought into conformity with the higher principles of the Christian life and adapted to the shifting circumstances of time, place, and peoples. Preeminent among the works of this type of apostolate is that of Christian social action which the sacred synod desires to see extended to the whole temporal sphere, including culture.
While every exercise of the apostolate should be motivated by charity, some works by their very nature can become specially vivid expressions of this charity. Christ the Lord wanted these works to be signs of His messianic mission cf. The actuisitatem commandment in the law is to love God with one’s whole heart and one’s neighbor as oneself cf.
Christ made this commandment of love of neighbor His own and enriched it with a new meaning.
For He wanted to equate Himself with His brethren as the object of this love when He said, “As long as you did it for one of these, the least of My brethren, you did it for Me” Matt.
Assuming human nature, He bound the whole human race to Himself as a family through a certain supernatural solidarity and established charity as the mark of His disciples, saying, “By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John So, too, in every era it is recognized by this sign of love, and while it rejoices in the undertakings of others, it claims works of charity as its own inalienable duty and right.
For this reason, pity for the needy and the sick and works of charity and mutual aid intended to relieve human needs of every kind are held in highest honor by the Church.
At the present time, with the development of enhlish rapid facilities for communication, with the barrier of distance separating men greatly reduced, with the inhabitants of the entire globe becoming one great family, these charitable activities and works have become more urgent and universal. These charitable enterprises can and should reach out to all persons and all needs.
Wherever there are people in need of food and drink, clothing, housing, medicine, employment, education; wherever men lack the facilities necessary for living a truly human life or are afflicted with serious distress or illness or suffer exile or imprisonment, there Christian charity should seek them out and find them, console them with great solicitude, and help appstolicam with appropriate relief. This obligation is imposed above all upon every prosperous nation and person.
In order that the exercise of charity on this scale may be unexceptionable in appearance as well as in fact, it is altogether necessary that one should consider in one’s neighbor the image of God in which he has been created, and also Christ the Lord to Whom is really offered whatever is given to a needy person. It is imperative also that the freedom and dignity of the person being helped be respected with the utmost consideration, that the purity of one’s charitable intentions be not stained by seeking one’s own advantage or by striving for domination, 5 and especially that the demands of justice be satisfied lest the giving of what is due in justice be represented as the offering of a charitable gift.
Not only the effects but also paostolicam causes of these ills must be removed and the help be given in such a way that the recipients may gradually be freed from dependence on outsiders and become self-sufficient. Therefore, the laity should hold in high esteem and, according to their ability, aid the works of charity and projects for social assistance, whether public or private, including international programs whereby effective help is actuositaatem to needy individuals and peoples.
In so doing, they should cooperate with all men of good will. The laity carry out their manifold apostolate both in the Church and in the world. In both areas there are various opportunities for apostolic activity.