Copy to Mgr Glorieux

On 11 January 1962, Cardijn copied his letter to Cardinal Cento to Commission secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux.

“I am enclosing  here with a copy of the letter and the note that I sent yesterday to H. Em. Cardinal Cento on “The essential, proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the Laity”. 

“If you think it is not too late, I will bring copies of the note for all the members of the Commission. Just let me know the number.

“See you soon, dear Monsignor. I will stay at the same address, with the Sisters of the Retreat of the Sacred Heart, 2, Via Ulisse Seni.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Achille Glorieux 11 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Achille Glorieux 11 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Need to get together with a few people

On 11 January 1962, Cardijn responded to Canon Victor Portier from the French National Union of Social Secretariats.

“A very, very big thank you for your good wishes and your very kind note,” Cardijn wrote. “We need to make time to get together with a few people to put all this into focus… Alas! I am… consumed by errands, meetings, conferences. And all this at the age of 80!”

“I am attaching herewith a few notes that I have also sent to Rome on my own behalf.

“Given the overwhelming amount work, I am obliged to just let the pen run freely and I barely have time to revise what I’ve written. However, it does seem to me that things are starting to move on all sides! But the road ahead is still long.

“We will meet again in Rome. But there too, there is so little free time and I still need to take advantage of the opportunity to make essential visits!

“In any case, until we meet again.” he concluded.

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Victor Portier 11 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Victor Portier 11 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)

Papers falling ‘into a void’

On 3 January 1962, Canon Victor Portier, a member of the PCLA as well as secretary of the French National Union for Social Action, wrote to Cardijn sending New Year greetings and enclosing a paper he had submitted to the Prep Com.

“I’m sending you my best wishes for the New Year for you and for your dear JOC,” Portier wrote.

“I enclose a few pages that I have sent to Rome. They are in line with  the intervention of Archbishop Garrone and, I believe, with the direction of the conversation that we had on the plane. I’m sending  them to be used at your discretion since the papers we send fall… into a void.

“I also ask you to pray for the Action Sociale to which our lay people have dedicated themselves. If you ever have any spare time in Paris, they would be delighted to meet you and tell you about their activities, which are so similar to those of the JOC.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Victor Portier – Joseph Cardijn 03 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Victor Portier – Joseph Cardijn 03 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

A matter of conscience

On 29 December 1961, Cardijn sent his responses to the latest draft documents from the PCLA to Mgr Achille Glorieux, apologising for his insistence on the lay apostolate.

“Within the limits of my time, I have carefully read the documents I found here when I returned from my trip.

“You will see the comments that I have made in the short note and the letter that I am sending by the same post to His Eminence Cardinal Cento and of which I am now sending you a copy.

“I very simply apologise for coming back to this point so insistently. I really feel obligated in conscience to do so.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Achille Glorieux 29 12 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Achille Glorieux 29 12 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Clergy “ignorant” of lay apostolate

On 29 December 1961, Cardijn wrote to Archbishop Gabriel-Marie Garrone of Toulouse, a long time supporter of the JOC and Specialised Catholic Action as well as a member of the PCLA, to express his growing concern over the failure of the latest documents from the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate to clearly explain the lay apostolate.

Significantly, Garrone had also published a book of his own entitled “L’Action Catholique” in 1958 in response to Suenens’ article criticising an alleged “monopoly” of Catholic Action by the Specialised Catholic Action movements. Now, just a month after Suenens’ appointment as archbishop of Malines-Brussels and therefore as Cardijn’s episcopal superior, Cardijn seeks Garrone’s aid.

“I’m sorry to trouble you by sharing the anguish I experience when, after a long absence in Latin America, I find on my desk the three documents from our Commission on the lay apostolate, social action and charitable action,” Cardijn began.

“Will the tone and arrangement of these texts produce the necessary impact to enable the Church and the world today to understand the importance that needs to be attached to the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity in their secular life, in their living environments (milieux), in the face of the problems of our contemporary world and humanity as a whole, as well as in the indispensable organisations and institutions that must provide a positive solution to these problems?” he asked.

And he did not mince his words:

The older I get, the more I’m terrified by the ignorance and virtually the nonchalance of the clergy regarding the apostolate of the laity, as secular problems in the solution of which lay Christians are involved by their very character as lay people and which they must assume as Christians. This ignorance seems widespread to me, even if we can count some very beautiful exceptions.

In previous months, I sent several notes on this subject to the Commission.

The three documents that I mentioned above, even if they mention the apostolate proper to the laity in various places, they fail to highlight it, because they disperse the various aspects that they deal with too widely. The document “De Apostolatu Lalcorum” among others, does not present these in a chapter that provides a synthesis: notion of this proper apostolate, importance and necessity, essential formation, etc. One might almost say that the fish was drowned… 

While the family apostolate as described in Document TC 3 – chap. V does make more impression, even though it neglects certain aspects, this is because it is gathered in a single chapter. Should we not do the same for the apostolate of the laity as such and in its own domain: life, milieux, problems of life, institutions, etc. Moreover, the family apostolate is only one of the most important aspects of the lay apostolate.

“I have taken the liberty of sending these reflections that I am copying to you in this envelope to His Eminence Cardinal Cento,” he added. “I have also sent them to Monsignor Glorieux.

“Perhaps it’s too late?” he asked. “In any case, I felt that I had to unburden my conscience,” he added in a strong indication of the level of his concern.

Moreover, these were not the only documents that concerned Cardijn.

“I could have made the same remarks regarding the documents – which I received three days ago – on international life and Christian unity,” he noted.

“What a field for the apostolate of the laity, in their daily life, in their daily relationships with other Christians! What work and what field of action, for the formation of public opinion and the spirit of responsibility! And yet we are still only at the beginning,” finishing with a positive slant.

“In all of this, moreover, the international, national and local levels have become so inseparable today!” he concluded.

SOURCE

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel Garrone 29 12 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel Garrone 29 12 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

REFERENCE

Gabriel-Marie Cardinal Garrone (Catholic Hierarchy)

Archbishop Gabriel-Marie Garrone

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.