General remarks

In another note, later numbered Note 14 and entitled “General remarks,” Cardijn offered his overall assessment of the three draft documents of the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate.

“It is not easy to locate oneself among all the Commission documents,” he began, clearly not impressed by what he regarded as a confusing presentation.

Could we not adopt the following general line, which was that of the beginning of the work of the Commission:

Part 1: DE APOSTOLATU LAICORUM – notion, relation to the apostolate of the Hierarchy, – etc. (What’s the latest official document on this topic? There are two versions of TC3 / ​​SCI.).

Part 2: DE LAICORUM APOSTOLATU IN ACTIONE SOCIALI TC1 / SC.II

DE ACTIONS SOCIALI (What is the latest official document? There are also two versions of TC1 / SCII).

Part 3: DE APOSTOLATU IN ACTIONE CARITATIVA – TC2 / SCIII

Part 4: VARIA – the complete document.

Couldn’t a sort of Table of Contents be made that clearly shows the rest of the subjects treated?

II. THE PREAMBLES.

Couldn’t the various preambles be reduced to one in order to avoid repetitions and variations. If necessary, short introductions could highlight certain subjects or aspects.

The apostolate proper to the laity

As always, his primary was concern related to the lack of understanding of and lack of attention to the genuine apostolate of the laity:

It is notable there is a mixing in the documents between the apostolate proper to the laity and the apostolate of the laity directed directly by the clergy, in congregations, third orders, works of charity, in catechesis, liturgy, etc. (see note on “The Materially and Formally Lay Apostolate”).

I continue to regret that a chapter has not been devoted to the apostolate proper to the laity, to its necessity and importance in the world, to the construction of a world “as God wills,” and to the realisation of a truly fraternal society appropriate to the world today. No doubt the document speaks of this in several places, but it is as if by the way, in the midst of other forms of secular apostolate. It does not highlight the urgency and irreplaceable necessity; on the contrary, this diluted form diminishes its primordial value and importance.

Collaboration with the hierarchy

Nor was Cardijn satisfied with the way the draft documents dealt with relations between lay people and the hierarchy:

Can we also not:

a/ Show that the Hierarchy is in the service of the whole Church, of the progress of the whole;

b/ Emphasise the need for dialogue between the Hierarchy and the laity, for joint research, for collaboration?

Apostolic action and/or social action

Here Cardijn was concerned again to overcome any kind of division between spiritual and secular spheres:

Should it not be said that almost every secular apostolic action is or must be social, and that every Christian social action is apostolic?

Shouldn’t the terms used in the two documents dealing with this issue be reviewed in this regard: TC3 / ​​SCI and TC1 / SCII?

From charitable action to social justice

Cardijn’s critique of the document on charitable was particularly strong.

“Most of the organised charity is actually directed by the clergy,” he lamented. “The laity are most often the executors or bear only half the responsibility.

“If we speak of a charitable action of the laity, should we not insist in the document that the initiative and responsibility for this action be effectively borne by them?” he asked.

Further he was concerned to emphasise that many fields of action regarded as charitable in fact should be categorised as areas involving justice issues:

“Some major global problems such as the fight against hunger, disease, inadequate and unhealthy housing, action against illiteracy or youth abandonment, campaigns to support migrants, orphans and the elderly, can they still be categorised as charitable works?” he asked.

“Are there not issues of justice and national and international solidarity, for the solution of which private initiative must claim its participation and maintain its freedom, but in which public, national and international responsibility must also be asserted, as well as the right and duty, for Catholics, to take an active and important part in this?”

The apostolic sense of the laity

Overall, however, Cardijn was concerned at the lack of understanding in the documents and emphasis on lay people’s vocation in their own lives:

Should not the inadequacy or lack of apostolic meaning among the faithful be attributed first and foremost to a lack of conviction and insistence on the part of the first leaders of Christian formation: priests, men and women religious?

Is there enough emphasis on the indispensable, irreplaceable, paramount mission of the laity in the Church?

Is there sufficient explanation of this mission in life, the milieux of life regarding the problems and institutions of life? Is it sufficiently explained how the whole life of lay people needs to become apostolic in order to build the world as God desires it to be?

Is there adequate explanation of the transformation indispensable to the present world through the transformation of life on the personal and collective level, national and international level as well as in the private and public spheres?

Everything is linked; and each is impossible without the other.

SOURCE

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 14 – Remarques générales (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 14 – General Remarks (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Detailed remarks

Along with his Note 15 on the Materially and Formally Lay Apostolate of Lay People, Cardijn prepared two additional notes (13 and 14) offering his particular and general remarks on the three draft documents prepared by the PCLA on lay apostolate, social action and charitable action.

Lay apostolate

With respect to the draft document on lay apostolate, as always he insisted on the need to emphasise the specifically lay vocation of lay people.

“Isn’t there a way to begin with what is proper to lay people: ‘negotia mundi christiane gerendo, ordinem temporalem Christo lucrifacere et in Deum ordinare…’,” he asked.

He lamented that “the lack of an apostolic sense and apostolic spirit” among lay people was “certainly the consequence of lack in religious formation.”

But he added that this was because “priests and religious responsible for this religious formation do not believe in the apostolic mission of lay people in the Church.”

” Isn’t it necessary to make an appeal” to these priests and religious, he asked. “Isn’t it necessary to insist on the unity of life under every aspect? It is the separation between temporal life and religious life that is the greatest evil of our time.”

He called for “parents to involve their sons and daughters in joining apostolic movements appropriate to their age and situation, most of on leaving school and starting work?”

Cardijn also insisted on the importance of ecumenical collaboration in this context.

“Should nothing be said about collaboration and coordination with non-Catholics and non-Christians, for certain moral, social, cultural, economic, etc.,” he asked.

Social action

Here Cardijn’s concern was on prevention rather than palliating social problems.

“In a true economic and social order should we not prevent evils, rather than organising insurance that covers certain consequences of these evils? For example, regarding unemployment, shouldn’t everything be done to prevent or eliminate it, rather than guaranteeing a subsidy, even if it is adequate, for the unemployed?

“It is the same thing for all these evils, including accidents, illnesses, robots, etc.”

As always, he insisted on the need for a focus on young people, particularly young working people.

“Above all, there is the problem of young people, including their preparation for working life, their recruitment for businesses, apprenticeship, security, etc.,” he wrote. “Lack of jobs, lack of interest and stability are among the greatest scourges affecting young people in certain countries and continents.”

He was particularly critical of the draft chapter on global issues.

“This chapter seems too weak to me,” Cardijn wrote:

“I would prefer a solemn and pressing appeal to all Christians and to people – and above all to the ruling authorities – for a deep search based on loyal understanding and effective collaboration, with a view to ending

– underdevelopment in all its forms;

– the increasingly disastrous arms race, which increases mistrust between peoples;

– public immorality, bargaining and espionage between nations and inhuman situations within nations.

AN IMPRESSIVE DECLARATION affirming that the Church is ready for unanimous participation in the efforts necessary to bring about justice, charity and peace among all people, of all races and every opinion, would provide a witness for the whole world.”

Charitable action

Here Cardijn was concerned with what he felt was a limited understanding of charitable action.

“I note that the definition includes all acts and all works inspired by charity, whether they are individual or collective acts or works, of national or international scope, relating to the social or cultural order, assistance or exchange, public or private initiative.

“It seems to me that this document confuses acts of charity performed by Christians (acts performed by virtue of the love of God and neighbour) and the action of assistance which needs to respond, at the individual and collective level, to the needs of our most disadvantaged brothers and sisters, in the temporal, social, moral, etc. fields. The purpose of this document is to deal with this assistance action in its various forms and in the various fields,” he warned.

Instead, he proposed the following emphases:

1. Acts and works of assistance, mutual aid, etc. should be animated by supernatural charity. We create them or we suggest them, we make them act or we participate in them, through supernatural charity; and it is this supernatural charity that the lay apostle diffuses there, even when the people or authorities who create or manage these institutions are animated by a spirit of philanthropy or merely human social assistance.

2. There are acts and works of a charitable nature which respond to personal, particular or hidden needs, and Christians need to be educated to seek them out and devote themselves to them. But in the modern world, it is necessary that all Christians understand the collective needs that affect large sectors of humanity and endanger its future: material, physical, social and cultural needs economic, technical and scientific needs… It is also necessary for Christians be the first to seek an answer to these problems through effective and unanimous mutual aid. Thus hunger, disease, the inadequacy of technical and scientific equipment are not scourges which relate uniquely to charitable activity, but rather activities of human solidarity and collaboration. For Christians, these activities will be prompted and animated by supernatural charity.

Nevertheless, Cardijn equally emphasised the importance of the Christian obligation to charitable action, which he said “should be genuinely proposed as the fundamental sign of a Christian: the love of God, which manifests itself in and through love and assistance given to the other.”

But while insisting on respect and protection of the freedom to take social and charitable action, he also emphasised “the need for a loyal and objective collaboration of Christians in the socialisation of this order. “

“We should recommend to Christians not to distance themselves from institutions, works and organisations, whether private and public, national and international, created or directed by unbelievers, on a non-confessional or multi-confessional basis,” he emphasised.

And in this field, it was even more necessary than elsewhere for formation “to become formative action” which also needed to be “apostolic at the same time.”

Catholic Action

Unsurprisingly, Cardijn was particularly preoccupied with the draft chapter on Catholic Action. Here he called for a total revision, particularly in relation to:

The apostolate of organised lay people.

The apostolate proper to organised lay people..

The responsibility of lay leaders of Catholic Action with respect to method, action and organisation.

The links and relationship with the hierarchy.

Specialisation and coordination.

Young people and adults.

Young people

Finally, he called for attention to young people from various milieux and for attention to the method of their education.

“This document should address the following issues,” he said:

1. Notion of apostolate by young people.

2. Its necessity and importance.

3. Specialisation and coordination.

4. Young workers.

5. Young rural people.

6. Young students

7. The fundamental method of educating young people.

SOURCE

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 13 – Remarques particulières (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 13 – Detailed remarks (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The formally and materially lay apostolate of lay people

On 8 March 1962, Cardijn finalises a new note (Note 15) for the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate entitled “The formally and materially lay apostolate of lay people.”

He borrows this distinction between “formally and materially lay apostolate” from another unnamed member of the PCLA.

“This distinction is not of my making,” he explains. “It comes from one of the most eminent members of our Commission.

“If, despite my previous interventions and notes, I am returning to this point, it is because I believe that, at this hour which is so decisive for the Church and the world, our Commission would be failing in its mission if it did not highlight the ‘formally secular’ lay apostolate of lay people.

“Without this, the materially apostolate of lay people will not only be inadequate but it may also be harmful to lay people themselves as well as to the Church as a whole,” he warns.

He explains further:

Purpose and necessity

1. The material apostolate of lay people is that which all the faithful are called to exercise (priests, religious and lay people); it is the apostolate of prayer, suffering, liturgy, catechesis, charity, etc.

2. The formally lay apostolate of lay people is the apostolate proper to them. No one will be able to exercise it in their place and the world will not be evangelised in all its dimension if they fail to take it on themselves; it is irreplaceable. It is essential to the Church and complementary to the apostolate of the priesthood.

3. The formally lay apostolate of lay people is increasingly important for the future of humanity. Because it is their apostolate embedded and lived out in their secular life (family, social, cultural, political), in the milieux of their lives, and in the problems and structures of temporal life (technical, scientific, economic, etc.) As Pius XII said,

“the Church today more than ever needs young workers (lay people) to valiantly build, in joy and in difficulty, in successes and trials, the world as God wants it, a fraternal society in which the suffering of the most humble will be shared and alleviated. May your apostolate therefore be exercised in a perspective of universality and always, as appropriate, in filial submission to the ecclesiastical hierarchy; may it find there the source of its effectiveness and of its fidelity to the intentions of Christ.”

And he continued:

“This is in order for lay people to become Catholics in the full sense of the term, that is to say… members of the Christian community, fulfilling a task of their own that is indispensable to the community, its life and balance.1

4. The necessity and importance of this formally lay apostolate, as well as formation for this apostolate of their own cannot be emphasised and insisted on enough. The experience developed over the past 50 years, the results of which can be seen, proves the value and effectiveness of this apostolate.

Those priests who, with perseverance and humility, have loyally tried it out, are unanimous in saying that becoming aware of and remaining faithful to this apostolate develops an unparalleled dynamism, conviction, fervour, and spirit of sacrifice in the religious life of lay people; it gives them a sense of pride in their Christianity and a desire to commit themselves which gives rise to the greatest efforts and hopes.

Finally, in my opinion, the formally lay apostolate of lay people remains the only positive response to materialism, liberalism and secularism, the separation of religion from real life, and from the problems most deeply felt and experienced by lay people.

Lay people themselves are deeply aware of the need for this apostolate and there is an increasing number who desire to commit themselves to this even at the cost of great sacrifices. They are also aware of the need for formation training and support inherent in this mission which is unique to them and they are concerned that they usually fail to get any response to this from the clergy responsible.

The documents

This is why I would like the documents on this subject to be revised. Instead of a formulation which seems to minimise the mission of lay people in the Church and which is merely negative – “neither priests nor religious”… “ordinary, common members” (1.0.3, p.4, paragraph 3) – on the contrary, words should be used that value the active presence and task of lay people in the Church.

For example, we could say: “Lay people are those members of the Church who are called to build the world of tomorrow as God wishes it and as Christ merited it; who, by their very lives, need to transform the world with the spirit of Christ; and who are invited to become witnesses and collaborators of Christ in this world through their life and their action.”

All this is said in the document, but scattered in various places and as if in passing, in the midst of many other considerations on “the material apostolate of lay people.” I would like this to be strongly emphasised, to have an impact both on lay people as well as all those – priests, men and women religious – who are responsible for educating lay people for their proper and irreplaceable apostolate.

Requests

1. It is here that I would like a request to be made that a Dicastery be appointed for the implementation of this apostolic conception of the mission of lay people in the Church, at all levels and in all “formally lay” aspects, i.e. family, professional, political and social, etc. This body should also be responsible for encouraging the formation for lay people, which is essential for this apostolate, both in method and organisation.

The conception and functioning of this institution needs be studied with the greatest care in order to always safeguard and develop – both in formation and apostolic action – the dynamism that ceaselessly begins from the grassroots of the Church and rises to the top under the irresistible inspiration and impulse of the Holy Spirit, who enabled Christ to say: “I thank you, Father, because you have revealed these marvels to the little and the humble, while you hide them to the wise and the skilful…” (Lk. 10, 21).

2. Finally, I would like the Commission to respond to the expectations of many lay people involved in the apostolate of the Church and are requesting the Council to solemnly confirm the value that the Church recognises in their formally lay apostolate and its desire to see them become more and more involved in this apostolate.

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, Note 15 – The formally and materially lay apostolate of lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

READ MORE

Formal and material principles of theology (Wikipedia)

A proposed new chapter on lay apostolate

On 15 January 1962, Cardijn again wrote to Archbishop Garrone of Toulouse thanking him for his letter of 10 January and following up with further proposals.

“In an earlier note to His Eminence Cardinal Cento, I expressed the wish that the importance of the apostolate specific to the laity should be highlighted in the documents of the Commission with a special chapter, either before or after the chapter on the family apostolate,” Cardijn noted.

“I took the liberty of sending you a copy of that previous note.

“I have now attempted to draft the contents of this chapter in the note that I am now sending you – a copy is attached,” Cardijn continued, referring it seems to his Note 12 “The essential and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people.”

“I don’t know if such a chapter could find a place among the documents already proposed by the three Sub-Commissions.

“I am sending it to you, Excellency, in order to let you know how much the question haunts me. Please excuse me for daring to be so forthright.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel-Marie Garrone 15 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel-Marie Garrone 15 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Another letter to Cento

Less than two weeks after his previous letter, Cardijn wrote again on 10 January 1962 to PCLA president, Cardinal Cento, to insist on the importance of the lay apostolate and enclosing his proposed chapter on the issue (Note 12).

“Please excuse me, Your Eminence, for bothering you again,” Cardijn began:

“In my previous letter of 28 December and the note that accompanied it, I expressed my fear that the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity in the Church would be drowned in all the apostolate common to all the faithful and that not enough attention would be given to this aspect and its importance in the documents under preparation. I believe, moreover, that this fear is shared by a certain number of members of the Commission.

“Since then, I have tried to condense all the notions relating to this apostolate specific to the laity in a special chapter. Perhaps this short statement will not fit into the plan and the texts adopted by the Commission. Your Eminence will be the judge. Would you have any problem with the Secretariat of the Commission sending or providing this note to the other members?”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Fernando Cento 11 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Fernando Cento 11 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Garrone backs Cardijn

On 9 January 1962, French Archbishop Gabriel-Marie Garrone of Toulouse responded to Cardijn’s 29 December 1961 letter expressing his concerns over the draft documents of the Preparatory Commission.

“You were able to see how much I share your concerns during our last meeting,” Garrone began.

“I believe that everyone agreed on the effort to be made and the direction to go,” he continued, defending the members of the commission. “Actually, we are currently faced with the problem of implementation.”

Nevertheless, he said he agreed with Cardijn’s concerns.

“I think that all your remarks are justified, and I am also quite favourable to your conclusions, in particular on p.3, regarding social action: the opening statement concerning the apostolate of the laity obviously applies to the whole whole and this needs to be explicitly marked.

“This statement is expressed quite well theologically. However, it still needs to be given that impetus to make an impact, and also to show the application of these remarks to the whole field of work.

“In my opinion, it is here that what you are asking for at p. 4, paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 needs to be said,” he said.

More needed to be done, he agreed, however.

“I understand that Mgr GLORIEUX had sought to constitute a small team,” he noted.

“But in a somewhat private manner,” he added, in a clear indication of the delicate problems that existed in the Preparatory Commission.

“We could perhaps hope that there will be a more explicit investiture for the last phase of the work which will be final,” he concluded.

“See you soon, dear Monsignor. We must trust in Providence and speak with the total frankness that is required.”

SOURCES

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Gabriel-Marie Garrone – Joseph Cardijn 09 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Gabriel-Marie Garrone – Joseph Cardijn 09 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The apostolate in temporal life

Having provided a theological explanation of the lay apostolate proper to lay people, Cardijn naturally wished to show what that meant in practice.

This he explained in an annex to his Note 12. Naturally enough, he drew on the example of the JOC.

“The experience of the last 25 years, which, through Catholic Action formation, has oriented a great number of lay people in their specific apostolate in life, in institutions and temporal milieux, shows that this presence and action in the temporal sphere is closely linked to the christianisation and evangelisation of milieux of which the majority are not reached by the Church,” he wrote. “The religious apostolate is inserted in apostolic action at the heart of secular life.”

“The experience of the YCW is realised in this fashion and has been encouraged by the recent Sovereign Pontiffs,” he noted.

The human level

The first level of this apostolate is the human level, Cardijn said:

In general the concrete apostolate starts on the human level properly speaking, i.e. young people win their comrades to attitudes which incite greater respect, more justice, more security, more dignity whether in the milieu of work, during leisure or in the field of health, preparation for the future, etc.

And that, they want it and obtain it, not just for their immediate comrades, but for all, for all those who are around them, without distinction, and for all the workers of the world and other races of different colours, other religions and ideologies.

These acts multiplied infinitely create a habitual, permanent attitude which gives birth by itself to a climate of confidence, friendship and collaboration among all; little by little, they spread a conception of life, bring out a surge in public opinion; they transform working environments, leisure and living environments; they develop new kinds of human relationships at individual, national and international level; henceforth, these are relationships based on confidence, solidarity, collaboration for the equitable and positive solution of common human problems.

Group apostolate

The next stage, according to Cardijn, develops progressively from a personal apostolate into “a group  apostolate that is more structure and organic.”

“On one hand, this gives rise to apostolic grassroots groups (in the parish, the neighbourhood, etc.) which unite people and develop into regional federations, movements and national and international movements of the apostolate,” Cardijn explained.

“On the other hand, at local as well as national and international levels, it leads to interventions in existing secular organisations and institutions, whether private, public or semi-public.”

Preparing the way for deeper action

Next Cardijn explains the linkages between these human acts and the Church’s mission:

For Christian leaders who act in secular daily life, these acts, realisations and processes are truly acts of apostolate. To achieve this, they make personal sacrifices and all kinds of renunciations which transform themselves; to achieve this, they pray and unite themselves with Christ and the Church in sacramental, liturgical and ecclesial life. In their personal life, unity is achieved between their religious life and their secular life; in their action with and on others.

Their intentions are not limited to the human and temporal level; they aim for the glory of God, the reign of Christ, the extension of the Church, the evangelisation and salvation of souls. Their presence and action, which is profoundly human, prepares the way for much deeper action: it breaks down prejudices and obstacles; it invites people to seek and recognise the truth.

Impact on others

This kind of action also has an impact on others, including non-Christians, Cardijn argues. In some cases, it even leads to the catechumenate:

For non-Christians who participate in this action or who at least witness it, it is primarily a shock and a testimony. It raises questions in them: Why are my comrades doing this? Why have they given up that? How can they do this? Why are they so much against injustice whereas we thought that religion preached resignation?

And for a certain number of non-Christians, this shock and testimony will lead to a catechumenate of which the initial discoveries are those of a religion lived out integrally in both daily and secular life. Because it is in regard to all these secular problems that friendship and confidence lead to exchanges: “Why respect, help or love others? Why work? Why found a family? What use is money? Why earn it and how to share it?” In their turn, these occasional discussions lead to making deeper and more complete contacts: visits to homes, books and magazines, collective action in the neighbourhood, participation in meetings.

Faith comes from the interior

What is important in all of the above, according to Cardijn, is a climate of openness, sympathy and friendship without any kind of pressure:

The revelation of Christ and the Church thus takes place in a climate of openness, sympathy and friendship, which is already that of lived out charity. The faith cannot be imposed through pressure, but it comes above all from the interior; it is sought, guessed at then requested, like a gift, a grace that transforms the person, family and society. It will not always and immediately result in baptism, sacramental or ecclesial life. How many examples there are of young workers who were Sauls and who have become Pauls! And this is so in every continent, every race and every form of civilisation.

The path followed, the apostolic pedagogy which are valid for non-Christians are equally valid for non-practising Christians accustomed to separating their religious practices from their daily life; or even all those who are still – alas! – so numerous and who have never received any real religious formation or only a child’s or adolescent’s formation.

The importance of the priest as a guide

All of the above depends, Cardijn insists, on the role of the priest as guide, support and counsellor.

In this apostolate – which does not separate temporal action from religious action properly speaking – the priest is always the guide, the support, indispensable counsellor for activist Christians. And little by little, it also becomes the guide of catechumens, who he leads towards their complete conversion. He is thus the soul of the transformation of individuals, and through them, of the milieux, communities, structures and the whole of society.

Thus, there will never be a lay apostolate at the level to meet the needs of the current world unless there are clergy who understand the necessity of this apostolate, who wish to make the “consecration mundi,” who understand its specific methods, its fecundity and the sacerdotal assistance which is indispensable to it.

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat essentiel propre et irremplaceable de laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn, The essential, irreplaceable apostolate proper to lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The apostolate proper to lay people – again!

Having criticised the most recent set of draft documents from the PCLA, Cardijn responded on 9 January 1962 with a new document setting out his conception of “the essential and irreplaceable apostolate proper to lay people.”

All the faithful take part in the whole apostolate of the Church: hierarchical, doctrinal, sacramental, liturgical, ascetic, catechetical, missionary, etc. apostolate,” Cardijn began.

“However, in the apostolate of the Church, lay people have a specific, essential and irreplaceable mission that was given to the whole of humanity by the Creator at the very moment  of Creation: that of procreating, taking possession of the earth, using it  and developing it (Genesis I, 26-31).

The theological basis of this, Cardijn explained, was God’s creation of man in his own image and the mission and opportunity given to humanity to share in that mission:

God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground.’

God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.

God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that move on earth.’

God also said, ‘Look, to you I give all the seed-bearing plants everywhere on the surface of the earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this will be your food. And to all the wild animals, all the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that creep along the ground, I give all the foliage of the plants as their food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day. (New Jerusalem Bible translation)

The work of redemption

However, given that original and actual sin had vitiated that original mission, God now gave humanity a second opportunity to share in the work of Redemption of humanity and the world:

This primordial mission of man and humanity was vitiated by original sin and by actual sins that led to ignorance, error, corruption, injustice and under-development. It lost more and more of its divine and religious meaning. And the propagation of a materialist and secularist conception of the world — with all its practical consequences — is the greatest threat to humanity and for the Church.

It is this primordial mission of man and humanity that Christ has come, not only to re-establish, but also by his Incarnation, to raise up to a more intimate participation in the work of the Redemption of the whole human race. As the Church says in each Holy Mass:

“O God, by creating human nature, you have given an admirable dignity: in redeeming it, you have restored it even more admirable than before. Grant us, by the mystery of this water united with wine, to take part in the divinity of he who deigned to share our humanity, Jesus Christ…” (Biblical Missal)

The mission proper to lay people

The specific task of lay people, then, is to rediscover and relink the mission of humankind ot to the mystery of Creation and Redemption:

The specific (proper) mission, apostolate of the lay person thus consists in rediscovering the divine and proper mission of humanity, and rejoining it to the mystery of the Creation and the Redemption. The lay person must give or re-give to the temporal, secular world its divine, religious, redemptive meaning, in and through work, science and technology, education, international action, etc. It is the whole “consecratio mundi” of which Pius XII spoke so often:

“You are Catholics, are you are in the full sense of the term, that is to say, not only as individuals professing the truths revealed by Christ and living personally in the grace of the Redemption, but as members of the Christian community and fulfilling in this community, a specific task, indispensible to its life and its balance”. (Talk to jocists, 25 August 1957, N° 19. There are many other texts of Pius XII where he proclaimed and developed the idea of the consecration of the secular world).

It is this mission in their temporal life that it is necessary to enable lay people to discover and understand. They must know and make known the divine value of the secular world in which they live;  they must live integrally their specific and primordial mission in the secular world, its milieux, its existing and future institutions. And they must spread this divine and temporal conception and this sense of their specific religious mission, among the lay people in the midst of whom they have been providentially placed. Thus, they will transform the world and they will really consecrate it to the glory of God (See Annex).

And he explained this further as follows:

“This divine mission of the lay person and the whole laity — to procreate, dominate and develop the whole of creation — today acquires an apostolic and missionary importance, not only primordial, but decisive; and this, at a world dimension,

  • because of the unexpected growth of the world population, because of the growing needs of this population, its aspirations and its new level of consciousness;
  • because of new technological, scientific, cultural and social progress, which transforms the world and humanity;
  • because of the unity and solidarity that allthese problems create between all men, all peoples, all continents;
  • because of ideologies of all kinds which spread across the world, with an increasing facility and rapidity;
  • because of the different levels of development, which make more acute the great scourges (hunger, sickness, mortality, insecurity, illiteracy, etc.) and draw on one hand international oppositions and on the other hand international institutions which battle against the great scourges.”

No separation between religious apostolate and lay apostolate

Cardijn continues on to develop his critique of the artificial division by the PCLA of its work into evangelisation, social action and charitable action.

“The Church and religion cannot stay on the sidelines of building, humanising, transforming the world. While distinct from responsible secular authorities and the technological means of work and progress, they can neither be separated or ignored,” he insists. “This separation would be deadly for humanity and the Church.”

“The essential, proper and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people, whose importance cannot be exaggerated, is inseparable from their religious apostolate properly said: doctrinal, sacramental, liturgical, etc. as moreover from their religious life properly speaking.”

And he cites Pope Pius XII 1957 speech to the JOC pilgrims to Rome:

As Pius XII told the jocists:

The YCW “works to restore in all its nobility the Christian notion of work, its dignity, its holiness. You like to consider the gestures of workers as personal acts of a son of God and a brother of Jesus Christ, through the spirit and the body, for the service of God and the human community. May the members of your movement (…) cause this conception of work to penetrate the factories, offices, professional schools. This is an apostolate that is practical and necessary to a very high degree”. (Speech, 25 August 1957, N° 16).

Indispensable formation to make the whole of lay life apostolic

And he concludes with an explanation of the need for a holistic formation process for lay people in order that the whole of their life becomes apostolic:

This apostolate, which both sanctifies lay people and builds a more human world, always more conform to the plan of God and Christ, always more at the service of temporal happiness and the eternal destiny of humanity, always more exalting of the glory of the Creator.

The whole clergy and all lay faithful must see the need to transform the whole of lay life, to understand the increasingly important specific and irreplaceable mission of lay people. They must give and receive the indispensable formation, so that the whole of lay life becomes apostolic. Religion must be incarnated in the whole of life, to make this life an apostolate which helps to transform all milieux and all the institutions of life.

“The Church today needs more than ever young workers to valiantly build, in joy and suffering, in success and failure, a world as God would want it, a fraternal society in which the suffering of the most humble will shared and lightened.” (Speech of 25 August 1957, N° 19).

To raise this consciousness and give this formation are the only means, not only of saving the faithful from false conceptions of lay life, but also of exercising an appropriate apostolate among the non-faithful — Christians and non-Christians — that they rub shoulders with every day in their milieux of life and in institutions; to collaborate with them on the temporal and lay level; to overcome prejudices and errors in order to reveal little by little, in all their dimension, religion and the Church and to obtain that the whole of creation be redeemed by Christ and sing the glory of God.

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat essentiel propre et irremplaceable de laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn, The essential, irreplaceable apostolate proper to lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Lay apostolate not clear enough in draft PCLA documents

On 28 December 1961, Cardijn wrote to PCLA president, Cardinal Fernando Cento, enclosing his reflections and his concerns regarding the three draft documents prepared by the Commission.

And he does not hold back in expressing his fears.

“On returning from Latin America, I found among other items on my desk the three texts: TC3, De Apostolatu Laicorum – TC1, de Actione Sociali – TC2, De Actione Caritative.

“I have reread them successively and I am taking the opportunity to now send your Eminence a brief note commenting on all of them since I do not have time to annotate each paragraph.

“May I be permitted to express my concern to your Eminence? I fear that the decisive importance of the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity, their apostolate in temporal life, does not emerge sufficiently from these documents.

“The long journey that I have just made has confirmed my observation over fifty years of priesthood devoted to this apostolate, namely that the clergy in general do not see the urgency of combating materialism, secularism and social disorder that threaten the world and the Church. It seems to me that a solemn appeal – a true SOS – by the Ecumenical Council, addressed to both laity and priests is essential.

“Your Eminence will forgive me for insisting so simply. It is my conscience that prompts me to make this appeal.

I am pleased to send your Eminence my most fervent wishes for a holy and happy Year 1962!” Cardijn concluded.

The apostolate of the laity vs the apostolate of the faithful

Finally back in Brussels, Cardijn now has to catch up with his work for the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate.

On 24 December 1961, he drafted Note II, containing his reflections on three draft documents prepared by the Commission.

It was now becoming clear that Cardijn’s patience was starting to wear thin as the opening of the Council approaches and his insistent pleas for recognition of the lay apostolate of lay people continued to go unheard.

The apostolate of the laity vs the apostolate of the faithful

“The enumeration of different apostolic tasks that lay people are called to fill too easily conflates those  that they carry out in religious life properly speaking (e.g. their participation in the Holy Sacrifice, in works of charity, etc.) and those that they exercise in temporal life (in their profession, civic life, etc.),” Cardijn complains.

“This mixing creates a certain confusion with respect to basic concepts. The chapter is intended to be consecrated to the apostolate of lay people, but is in fact consecrated for the most part to the apostolate of the faithful,” he laments.

“As a result of this mixing, the document fails to adequately highlight the necessity and importance of the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people in temporal life.

“This point seems to me, however, to be decisive in the world of the present and the future! The Hierarchy, clergy, religious cannot replace lay people, because it is the latter who ensure the building up of the world and must positively and Christianly resolve the problems that will decide the future of the Church: materialism, secularism, moral and social disorder, etc., which threaten the mass of the whole of humanity.

Family life and the lay apostolate

Cardijn was also particularly concerned with the section of the documents dealing with family life.

The long chapter consecrated to the family apostolate shows the importance of this. However, isn’t it necessary to say that the apostolate in and by the family and the preparation for this apostolate is inseparable from the apostolate in all aspects of temporal life which influence and will influence the family even more:

  • ensure all the resources of the family and safeguard the possibility of existence, faithfulness, education and morality;
  • Life of leisure and culture: vacations paid or not, passed with the family or separately; environments and conceptions of leisure; advertising which invades the  family (radio, television, the press);
  • civic and public life: legislation, institutions, public morality;
  • international life: displaced families, spouses and young people separated from the family; mixed families of races, different moral and religious conceptions who live and work together..

How then should the documents be redrafted?

“Is it not possible – before or after the chapter on family apostolate – to consecrate a whole chapter to the apostolate of the lay person in life, milieux, temporal institutions, chapters which would show methodically the primordial and decisive importance of this apostolate? Among other points:

  • the apostolic conception of temporal life;
  • the proper and irreplaceable character of the apostolate of lay people in this temporal life, its importance, its inseparability from religious life properly said, sacramental, liturgical, hierarchical;
  • the formation and education to be given to lay people and to priests with respect to this conception and this apostolic action in  temporal life;
  • the absolute necessity of forming young people who work outside and far from the family, uniting them and organising them in view of the apostolate at a level appropriate to the world of today and the future.

Social action vs lay apostolate

Cardijn again confronts the problem created by the artificial division of the Prep Com’s work into three subcommissions on evangelisation, social action and charitable action.

“Doesn’t it cause concern and misunderstanding to separate the presentation on social action from that on lay apostolate?” he asks pointedly. “Isn’t social action the direct or indirect lay apostolate?”

Moreover, “isn’t social action done in practice with organisations of the lay apostolate, e.g. the JOC, the LOC, the MOC, and others?” Cardijn asks, clearly concerned at the separation of social action from the work of the lay apostolate.

Charitable action

Concerning charitable action, Cardijn is clearly concerned about an “aid” mentality present in the draft documents. He insists on the need for an emphasis on social justice.

“Isn’t it necessary to pay homage to the universal preoccupation of our era, which seeks to promote and to organise the aid necessary to ensure that all people of all races and all continents have a more human and dignified life?

“Isn’t it necessary to add that this preoccupation with aid now involves  what is called ‘social and international justice‘ and which requires education as well as international institutions (Caritas, Misereor, etc.),” Cardijn asks.

Proposals

Offering his own response to his critique, Cardijn concludes with his own proposals:

“1- Couldn’t a very clear chapter be inserted in the text setting out what is the specific role of lay people in the apostolate of the Church, the tasks by which and in which it is exercised, its relationship to the apostolate of the priest, etc. (see above, page 2)? The fact of this declaration would enlighten immediately the other documents which follow.

“2-. To meet the expectations of the world today and of the whole Church, in particular those of lay people involved in the apostolate, could not the text also include a solemn appeal by the Council which would commit the whole Church — Hierarchy, priests, religious, lay people — to promote by all means the apostolate of the laity and the personal and collectie formation of all those who must become involved?

“3-. Would it not be possible to form a small team within the Commission which would coordinate the drafting of the three documents referred to in this note and which presents the apostolic action, the social action and the charitable action of lay people with a more pronounced unified character?”

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, Note 11 – Réflexions sur les trois textes de la Commission, 24 décembre 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn, Note 11 – Reflections on the three documents of the Commission, 24 December 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)