Apostolate of the Laity - Introduction

It is a duty and a privilege of all Christians to be "apostles," following the example of the Twelve Apostles and their successors, and sharing in their "mission" - which is to proclaim the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.

The word "apostle" comes to us from the Classical Greek (apostolos). It means "one who is sent, " e.g., a "messenger" or "ambassador." In English, the literal meaning of the word, derived from the Latin mitto (send) and ex (from), is "emissary." From another form of the Latin, missio, we derive the word "missionary.

Before being "sent" by Jesus Christ to preach the "Good News" that the "Reign of God," "Salvation," was at hand, the Twelve "Apostles" had been "disciples" (students). Sacred Scripture records that the Jesus, prior to His death, gave an instruction to the Twelve Disciples to be "apostles" to the "children of Israel" (Mt 10:5-42). Some scholars refer to this event as the "lesser or limited commission."

In a later event, as recorded in Sacred Scripture (Mt 28:16-20; Lk 24:44-49; Jn 20:19-23; Acts 1:4-8), the Resurrected Jesus gave an instruction to all his disciples that they spread His Teachings to all the people in the world, until the end of time. This event is known as the "Great Commission," which in Catholic theology emphasizes ministry, missionary work, evangelization, and baptism. The Resurrected Christ, advancing the last part of God's covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:3), empowered all apostles, by investing them, as members of the Church, with the Holy Spirit, i.e., God-Power.

The presence of the Church around the world demonstrates that disciples continue to become apostles - accepting the Great Commission - and that, through the Spirit-inspired, Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered Church, Christ is indeed changing the world (changing hearts, destroying the works of the devil, advancing the Kingdom of God, and saving souls). In this great apostolic work, apostolic action, apostles need to understand that they are not only heralds of the Good News, but also "priests" offering their converted lives to God, "prophets" calling a sinful humanity to repentance and forgiveness, and "kings" exercising power, in the name of Jesus Christ, over demons (MK 6:7; Mk 16:17).

During the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s, the Catholic principle of "apostolic action," on the part of the laity, was further developed and highlighted in several documents, most notably in the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, which states: "The laity derive their right and duty with respect to the apostolate from their union with Christ their head."

Applying the principle of "apostolic action," the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in 2007, addressing the grave moral issues of our time, called the laity to the fulfillment of their Christian political responsibility. However, many Catholics remain uninformed or misinformed about the solemn duty of both apostolic action - especially as it applies to political responsibility. The urgent need for apostolic action - Catholic Action - in our day, time and place, and the characteristics of authentic Catholic Action are developed throughout this website - especially in the column "Catholic Action, Faithful Citizenship," under the Info Center tab, Faith in Action category.

As one considers this, it is important to be well grounded in three facts: (1) Catholic Action is about proclaiming the Truth of God, in season or out, in the public square as well as within the family and Church; (2) God's Truth, and therefore Catholic Action, is about "theology" and not about "political ideology;" and, (3) Much of the rant about "separation of church and state" is a ruse! The idea that the government must not impose religion on Americans nor create any law requiring it does not protect the government from Natural Law, Common Sense, or Revealed Truth.

While our nation's founders came from widely divergent backgrounds, their fundamental values and convictions were similar. Their shared values and convictions concerning religious principles, economic fundamentals, and social goals were enshrined in our nation's Founding Documents. "... religious precepts turned out to be the heart and soul of the entire American political philosophy. (The 5000 Year Leap; Skousen)" "Indeed, our Church's teaching is in accord with the foundational values that have shaped our nation's history: 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship; USCCCB)"

Deacon Joseph B. Gorini, August 10, 2012

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