1 CHRISTIAN APOSTOLIC ACTION (Background and Summary) (Given by a Lay Person) Note: Before going any further, read carefully in this manual the: 1) Summary and Outline for the earlier talk on Layperson in the Church, and Sheet entitled Differences Between these two CEW Talks. The Jesus Connection Sunday on the CEW develops the Pentecost-experience. Regarding that event Jesus said: The Holy Spirit will instruct you in everything, and remind you of all that I told you. (John 14:26)... When the Paraclete comes, he will bear witness on my behalf. You must bear witness as well, for you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:27). What is the application of...all that I told you (the talks thus far on the weekend), to bearing witness to Jesus??? What did Jesus command to be done?? He told His followers to proclaim and spread the Kingdom of Heaven. Upon all the laity rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation ever increasing to all people of each age and in every land. (Const. on the Church, Vat. II, no. 33). Two Aspects That noble duty or mission has two general aspects; what is described as within and outside the believing community. The within is covered by the Layperson in the Church talk. The following talk on Christian Apostolic Action deals with the out-reach aspect. Focus of this Talk However, for our purposes here the line is not that clearly drawn. For example, helping someone become a member of the Church, or return to the practice of their faith, is Christian Apostolic Action. After a summary of Friday evening and Saturday in terms of the life of Jesus, the speaker shows that we are at Pentecost; the sending, the commissioning, by Jesus of His disciples. Every Christian is sent to act outside of the Church. A simple, but clear description of Christian Apostolic Action should follow. Each word is important: Christian, Apostolic, Action. Christian Apostolic Action is first of all action that discovers religion in politics, religion in work, religion in social programs for better wages. Social Security, etc. It is not at all to win the worker for the Church but because Christ is our brother, and because we have no right to let our brother or sister live in want, degradation, or any form of squalor, whether physical or spiritual. In a word, if we really understood the meaning of Christianity in social life, we would see it as part of the redemptive work of Christ, liberating people from misery, subhuman living conditions, ignorance, alienation. (From the book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton, p ) Various kinds and examples of such actions should then be given. These should include a wide range of types and possibilities, not just those that the speaker has done. The speaker should challenge the listeners, as well as witness to them. Length: The schedule allows up to 35 minutes for the talk.
2 CHRISTIAN APOSTOLIC ACTION (Outline) Introduction The weekend thus far is a quick summary of what Jesus followers experienced while in his presence. Before his Ascension, he commissioned them to Go, and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19), and, Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15). What does that mean, and how were they to do it? Jesus told them that He would send them the Holy Spirit who would instruct them in everything. This demands responsibilities. The apostles going into the whole world is reaching beyond our comfort zones. It is part of our Christian mission. This talk called Christian Apostolic Action is about that aspect. It is important to remember that Christian Apostolic Action is an equal element in our tripod of Formation, Holiness and Christian Apostolic Action, and the element that most of us find most difficult. A. Christian Apostolic Action means: 1. Christian Being Christian is not merely good but something different than the spirituality behind Islamic, Buddhist or Hindu action. Spreading (at least proclaiming) the good news (Gospel) of Christ; the Kingdom which He taught and established on earth Trying to instill the influence of His teachings in people and conditions. 2. Apostolic An application of what the apostles and first Christians were told to do, by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.... They were told to Go. Apostle means, one who is sent. A Christian is a person who is sent; one who brings the Lord to another person or situation, rather than waiting for someone to come to him/her. By making the first move, you are active instead of passive. Many illustrations could be used throughout this talk. Being apostolic is more than doing loving, kind things for others, e.g. to visit the sick parish members is being a layperson, but confronting unjust, degrading situations in the community or public arena is Apostolic. 3. Action Christian apostolic action is first of all action that discovers religion in politics, religion in work, religion in social programs for better wages, Social Security etc., not at all to win the worker for the Church but because Christ is our brother and because we have no right to let our brother or sister live in want, or in degradation, or in any form of squalor whether physical or spiritual. In a word, if we really understood the meaning of Christianity in social life, we would see it as part of the redemptive work of Christ, liberating people from misery, subhuman living conditions, ignorance, alienation. See source for this as quoted in Background and Summary for this Talk.
3 Activity has various possibilities such as: a. Mental -- analyzing, planning and preparing approach or strategy b. Spoken -- supporting, defending, challenging, reconciling, telephoning or visiting personally c. Written -- letter, article for newspaper, contact with government officials d. Physical effort -- manual labor, visiting, travel, secretarial-type of work e. Silent, personal, presence (witness) -- e.g. demonstration, public protest f. Boycotting: e.g., stores which have unjust labor practices B. Putting Christian Apostolic Action into being 1. It is directed at people. a. Christian Apostolic Action is making a definite attempt to bring people to Christ. Apostolic Action is making a definite attempt to bring people to become friends of Christ. It involves an attempt to make Him known, and it usually involves an attempt to talk about Him, or to witness explicitly to Him....One approach... is making friends with others in order to make them friends of Christ: (The Work of the Cursillos and the Work of Renewal, p. 26, Stephen Clark). b. By your evangelizing, you are witnessing explicitly for the Reign of God on earth. 2. It is directed at the human environment. a. The teachings and values of Christ must be brought to the various structures and conditions of the world. The laity must take on the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation. Led by the light of the Gospel and in the mind of the Church, and motivated by Christian love, let them act directly and definitively in the temporal sphere. (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Vat. II, no. 7) b. When the norms of our secular society are contrary to the values of Christ, we need to stand firm in our convictions, while reaching out with love and compassion. C. How and Where Should the Christian Apostolic Action Be Done? 1. Matthew 5:13-16; 13:33 Salt, if not used, will turn bland Light, do not hide under a bushel basket Yeast, when good, will grow and grow 2. Various Situations a. Social justice and human rights issues racial, female-male, age, religious, social status; work opportunity and conditions; marriage and family life, law enforcement and rehabilitation b. Moral environment pornography and sexual exploitation; cheating and stealing; the whole drug scene ; respect-life issues, abortion, nuclear war, capital punishment c. Political environment, foreign policy; military spending, nuclear war, future of human race versus poverty and starvation around the world d. Worldwide impact of the military e. Ecology preservation of the air, water, soil and natural resources; reverence for Godgiven balance in the universe, quality of world for human health and growth 3. Can we live this Gospel passage and put it into existence? God looked at everything God made, and found it very good. (Genesis 1:3)
4 D. Christian Apostolic Action attempted should be: 1. Prudent (sensitive to people affected) 2. Appropriate to the situation 3. Attainable 4. Motivated by Christian Love E. Conclusion:. The conclusion needs to be an encouragement to action. Review the definition of the words Christian, Apostolic, and Action, then challenge them to act. This talk should have various examples of Christian Apostolic Action, not only of the speaker, but also of instances we know of. The speaker challenges the listeners to act justly.
5 TALK EVALUATION CHRISTIAN APOSTOLIC ACTION Background: Jesus commissioned his followers to Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15). What did Christ mean by this? Christian Apostolic Action is the third key ingredient in the Christian life, and in the CEW tripod of Formation, Holiness and Christian Apostolic Action. Goals of this talk: Identify the meaning of Christian Apolostic Christian Apostolic Action, give examples of Christian Apostolic Action in the speaker s life and call the candidates to Christian Apostolic Action in their lives. The talk should: 1. Explain how Christian Apostolic Christian Apostolic Actiondeals with the outreach aspect of our Christian mission. 2. Clearly define Christian Apostolic Action vs. Layperson in the Church. 3. Show examples of Christian Apostolic Action in speaker s life. 4. Provide motivation for Christian Apostolic Action. Delivery: 1) Effective use of Eye Contact 2) Volume & Pace. 3) Rapport with the audience. Organization: 1) Were the specific goals of the talk met? 2) Was the central idea of the talk clear to the audience? 3) Were the main points easy to follow? 4) Did the speaker capture and hold the attention of the audience. Use the back of this page for your notes and comments.
6 LAYPERSON IN THE CHURCH (Background and Summary) (Given by a Layperson) The Mission of the Church is not only to bring people the message and grace of Christ, but also to penetrate and perfect the temporal sphere with the spirit of the Gospel. In fulfilling this mission of the Church, the laity exercise their apostolate both in the Church and in the world, in both the spiritual and the temporal orders. (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, II Vatican Council, Par. 5). This introductory statement of the Council frames the contents of two talks on the CEW: this talk, on Saturday; and the Christian Apostolic Action talk on Sunday. Both deal with the layperson s mission as a Christian. This talk focuses on life and activity within the Church. The Christian Apostolic Action talk concentrates on bringing Christ and the Gospel to the world ; to people and conditions outside the Christian community. Note: 1) To help the speaker better understand the proper contents of each talk and not stray into the area of the other talk; careful attention should be given to the accompanying sheet entitled: Differences Between These Two CEW Talks. 2) Another helpful resource to the speaker would be the reading of these two documents of Vatican Council II: a) The Church Today: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World; b) Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. This is somewhat heavy reading, but the kind of study needed to better see the total apostolate or mission responsibility of each adult Christian person. The two Council documents treat both aspects, namely, within the Church and outside it. So this is background for both CEW talks: Layperson in the Church and Christian Apostolic Action. The reader must sort out what pertains to which talk as he/she reads. Talk content: LAYPERSON IN THE CHURCH is a natural follow-up to the Grace talk. (The speaker should study that Summary and Outline here in the Manual as part of the background needed.) What should one do with the gift of grace? Share it!! First, with those who are of the household of faith Then with others, which is the focus of the Christian Apostolic Action talk. After giving a basic explanation of what the CHURCH is, the speaker should talk about the lay member s mission in the Church. The Scriptural and sacramental basis, or origin, should be explained. Chapters 1 and 2 of the Acts of the Apostles sketch the formation of the followers of Jesus into the Church, by God the Creator sending the Spirit. The response and mission of the members is then briefly described. The meaning of the Gifts of the Spirit to individual members is more explicitly covered in St. Paul s 1 st Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters The central point of the Layperson talk is, in a sense, summed up in Paul s words: To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)
7 What are the community gifts of grace for the good of the whole Church? The many and various forms of Lay Ministry expanding in the Church today are some, but the speaker should bring out others in his/her own life and the lives of other, ordinary, noncommissioned lay people. The various examples chosen should be guided by these words of St. Paul: Since you have set your hearts on spiritual gifts, try to be rich in those that build up the Church. (1 Corinthians 14:12) NOTE: The shortage of priests and religious is NOT the reason for greater lay involvement. Every person, by reason of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation is called to mission and ministry in the Church. The participants deserve a good explanation of life and growth in the Church and this talk is the proper place on the weekend. The concept of the Domestic Household Church needs attention here. Background ideas for it are found in places such as: Acts of the Apostles 18:8; 16:31; 11:14 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Vatican Council II) Papal letters: On Evangelization in the Modern World (#71); On the Family (#21); New Catechism of the Catholic Church (Part 2, Chapter 3, Article 7, #VI). Some of the key ideas are: Domestic Church refers to the community of faith that begins in the home. It is in the family unity that the faith is transmitted by word and by example. The prayer of blessing over the parents of the child in the Baptism ceremony says this: Parents are the first teachers of the young; may they be the best of teachers, by what they (you) do and say. What goes on in the Christian Catholic home today? Is there prayer, charity, generosity? Before outside church involvement, we must be people of Jesus in family unity first, the domestic Church. Do we share the Word of God in our family? And do we ask how the Word of God is calling our family to live? This is where the mission of the Layperson in the Church begins. It is what is called family catechesis (faith formation). Suggested length: 30 minutes
8 LAYPERSON IN THE CHURCH (Outline) Introduction: This morning, we first looked at the need and purpose of IDEALS in our lives. Then, the central Christian ideal GRACE; a life of union with God. Now, we look at our basic apostolic ideal: The Christian s Ministry to Others. There are two aspects to that mission. Within and Beyond the church This talk will deal with the first aspect, namely, the layperson s mission within and to the church. A. What is the Church? 1. A community formed by: a. The call of God No one can come to me unless the Father draws her/him. (John 6:44) 1) The call/faith is a gift, which usually comes through the family, the domestic church 2) Give an example from your own or another s life b. Sharing the life of the Risen Lord 1) That Life which is Grace is the bond between members of the church, like blood is the bond in the natural family. 2) Give some simple illustration or example. (This is different than membership in the Knights of Columbus or Parent Teacher Association) c. The sending of the Holy Spirit The death and resurrection of Jesus were not the end of the story. Pentecost was needed. The existence of the church is the personal mission of the Second Person of the Trinity. I will send you the Holy Spirit who will teach you all things. (John 16:13) 2. A community united internally by: a. Faith in Christ and His Teaching Gospels and central teachings of the church b. Grace coming through Baptism and other Sacraments c. A moral way of life d. 3. A community united externally by : a. Community worship (Liturgy) of Word & Eucharist b. Profession of faith c. Authority and leadership structure (Pope, bishops, pastors, theologians) d. Public witness and mission Might use the example of how a person s church denomination is usually mentioned, especially in scandals, etc., or the admiration for Mother Teresa in a positive way) 4. Other descriptions a. The Body of Christ with many members. (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27) Might use the comparison of the different children in a family, and what each contributes in their own way. b. The budding of the Kingdom of God. (Vatican Council II)
9 B. What is the Layperson s Mission? What is every member called to do? 1. To contribute to the common good of the church, according to each person s gifts and talents. (1 Corinthians 12:4-31) Many examples are obvious here. 2. Be serious about one s own domestic church. Note: See the Summary sheet preceding this page in the manual. a. Often hear the saying: Charity begins at home. But how often: Faith life and growth begins in the home. Yet this is the first responsibility of parents. b. Stress that with the breakdown of families this issue is most crucial for the future. 3. Active participation in the parish a. Sunday Mass attendance with as many members as possible; making provisions that the others get there every weekend. b. Be a model of active participation in the Liturgy (singing, responses, discussion of the homily and readings at home.) c. Various ministries of the parish: liturgical, bereavement, youth, adult education, sacramental preparation (Baptism classes, confirmation, Marriage Sponsor Couple program), hospitality (welcoming new parishioners), etc. d. Parish committees, Parish Council, boards, organizations e. Social, evangelizing and fund raising events Conclusion: Lay people active in the church was the way the church began and grew. For many centuries, that participation was discouraged. Since Vatican Council II, the rightful place of the laity has again been recovered. There are many opportunities available in every parish. Each person needs to discern where God is calling them. Deep satisfaction comes from being active in spreading the Kingdom of God through service in the church. So how is God calling YOU???
10 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THESE TWO CEW TALKS LAYPERSON IN THE CHURCH -- Christian activity primarily within the Church, toward other members CHRISTIAN APOSTOLIC ACTION --Directed primarily to non-members (or inactive members) and the various human environments --In-Reach; In-Love --The activity can take many forms besides strict actions, e.g. spoken or written support, prayer, personal sacrifice, study (adult education), building community. --Purpose: To support, strengthen, develop and improve the existing Christian Community. --Out-Reach; Out-Love --Primarily a doing, though the evangelizing action has various possibilities. --Purpose: To expand the Kingdom and the Christian Community 1) by putting new, or inactive, person in touch and relationship with Jesus; 2) by removing the obstacles to grace. --Will usually happen, or be done, through established channels or structures, and authority. --Results are often quickly seen, recognized and can be evaluated. --The focus of effort is more on the explicitly spiritual dimensions of life; the relationship of people to each other and to God. --More commonly will be diversified; often spontaneous, the result of personal or community planning and strategy. --Effects usually delayed, uncertain, and sometimes never seen. --The target of the action is most often the condition, circumstance, attitude, law (policy), internal or external restraint that keeps a person from being free to respond