Now that he has been appointed to the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate, as usual, Cardijn prepares meticulously, drafting an extraordinarily wide-ranging and detailed note of the way in which he would like the commission to work.
In his note, he begins by outlining the issue:
“The problem of the apostolate of lay people and of the formation of lay people for their apostolate can be exposed and solved starting from different points of departure, but which all lead to the same conclusions:
1. The Church, its mission, lay people in the Church.
2. God, the plan of God, in the Incarnation and the Redemption, participation of lay people in this plan of God.
3. The Christian’s mission in the world.
4. Man, his life, his problems, his worth and the mission of each person.”
He then drafts an extensive enquiry questionnaire for himself, which he also divides into several sections
First, he tackles “Secular and human problems” which he subdivides further into several categories:
- Ontological and personal, beginning with “Who am I? Why do I exist? How do I relate to others?”
- Family and emotional issues, beginning with “Who are my family? Who are my siblings? What about marriage?” etc.
- Free time: “How do I spend it? With whom? etc.
- Teaching and education: “How many years at school? What have I learned? Why did I leave school?
- Work: “What is my profession? Who do I work with? How long? Am I in a union?”
- Society, organisations and social institutions: “Do I exist alone? With whom? Should I be interested in various organisations?” etc.
- Human differences: “What are the differences between peoples?”
Cardijn then moves on to “Religious issues” beginning with the question of a person’s relationship with God, the meaning of the Incarnation of God, the existence of other religions, relationships with other Christians and non-believers, whether priests and pastors receive the kind of doctrinal and pastoral formation they need, etc.
Clearly conscious of the fact that his questions are likely to be fairly distant from the concerns of the PCLA, he explains their significance:
“In themselves for the understanding of their personal life in all its aspects: personal, family, professional, social, cultural, political, national and international;
for the understanding and realisation of their own mission in their own life in its aspects;
for the mutual promotion of this life in their immediate environment and in the world and for the union, understanding, progress, peace of all humanity;
for the eternal destiny of each and everyone;
for the glory of God and the realisation of his plan in the work of Creation and Redemption;
for collaboration in the work of the Church, in the ecumenical mission of the Church in the world of today and tomorrow.”
In a short Part II entitled “The apostolic formation of lay people” he explains that:
“1. The faithful in the Church must be formed
a) to discover these problems of their own life and that of all men
b) to discover the apostolic value of these problems
c) to learning and exercising their apostolic mission in their life, i.e. of the apostolic transformation of their own life in view of their apostolic mission immediate.
2. This apostolic formation begins at birth in the family, intensifies in school, becomes more precise and adapts to the moment of choosing and learning about their state of life.
3. This apostolic formation, doctrinal and practical, is not individualistic, but takes place in an adapted apostolic movement, where young lay people unite on the spot and on the scale of the current world, to collaborate in the action and representation of the apostolic conception of life and of the world at all stages and in all aspects of their life.
– lives, living environment, daily, concrete and practical problems;
– private and public authorities at all levels
– national and international private and public organisations and institutions, confessional and interfaith, interracial.”
Finally, in a short Part C dealing with the work of the PCLA, he again makes an important list of points to be dealt with:
Its method of work:
1) definition of the lay apostolate
2) organisation of the lay apostolate
3) formation of lay people in the apostolate
4) training of priests, men and women religious for their mission in the formation of the laity for the apostolate
5) extension and deepening of the lay apostolate
in the world of work
in intellectual circles and leaders
in the different continents, races,
in national and international institutions, governmental and non-governmental
with non-Catholics and non-Christians
with organisations, movements, institutions,
achievements of non-Catholics and non-Christians.
6) Should there be sub-committees or working groups with lay people for resolutions, and fruitful practical conclusions?”
It is an extraordinary document with obvious roots in the Cardijn method of beginning from the everyday life of the people rather than from the Church’s doctrine.
Joseph Cardijn, Note 1: Première ébauche d’un avant projet (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Joseph Cardijn, Outline for Note 1 on the Lay Apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)