By ARCHBISHOP CARBON! Apostolic Delegate to Australasia
FAR too many Christians today see the Christian vision of life only partially, dimly, vaguely. They fail to see its impact on each and every sector of created reality. They remain indifferent to their duty as Christians to seek out that vision in its fullness and thus they fail to strive vigorously and constantly to live it without thought of compromise and to have it permeate all human existence.
Certainly they continue to call themselves Christians, but they have never so known the thrill of the Christian vision of life as to be energetically moved to join with their Redeemer in his salvific action among men.
Catholic Action demands of its members an attitude totally different to that of the Christian content with his comfortable mediocrity. It asks of its members a constant quest for the total, the integral Christian mind, the integral Christian vision of reality. Otherwise their Christian activity will never be truly intelligent, competent, apostolic.
WITHOUT the mental sweep of creation as seen in the vision of Christ, the individual Christian might generously offer himself to engage in the apostolate.But without the total vision of Christ he will necessarily function as an ununderstanding instrument of the head of his apostolic group. He will leave not only himself but even the Catholic Action organisation to which he belongs open to the charge of pressure group tactics on the part of those among whom he works.
The Catholic Actionist with the universal vision of created reality, on the contrary, presents or rather lives the life of Christ authentically, attractively, persuasively in all his words, his attitudes and his actions. Truly then, as Pope Pius XI wrote, "a training-religious, moral and social-seems absolutely necessary if they are to do efficient work in the apostolate in these days." (1).
Further, the universal Christian vision insisted upon for Catholic Actionists enables them to .pursue their aim which is not limited to any determinate task within the framework of the Church's apostolate ; rather Catholic Action, His Holiness Pope Pius XII has told us, has a " general not a particular or specific aim." (2). Christian men and women, formed in the full Christian vision, and inspired by the rich dynamism of Christian love, will act always as intelligent, responsible, competent, prudent apostles. Such as these the Church is happy to make her " official " lay witnesses to Christ, as it were; her "official" lay collaborators in the apostolate of the Hierarchy. In doing this, she asserts that Catholic Actionists of this kind can he looked upon as the type of lay ambassadors to society that the Church desires and is pleased to make her own officially.
BEARERS OF THE TRUTH
EVEN without this official Catho lic Action approbation, or mandate, as such, by which the members are designated as authentic ambassadors of the Christian way of life. the lay apostolate body can nonetheless, in the essential formation and functions of its members, individually and collectively, undertake all that is intrinsically essential to Catholic Action as such.
In the religious domain apostolic activity makes personal hearers of the truth of Christ to our fellow men. Apostles strive to bring back the fallen away and the careless to
1. Pius XI, Letter to Cardinal Leme. October 27, 1935, 2. Pius XII, Address to Italian Catholic Action, May 5, 1951.
3. Pius XII. Encyclical " Evangelii Praecones", the regular practice of their religion ; they make the teaching and the love of Christ known to those who still remain outside the flock of Christ ; they inspire and exhort the faithful to ever higher levels of perfection.
These principles need to he implemented in the historic order of social reality. An apostle could not claim to have the authentic Christian spirit if, while praying regularly and studying according to his ability, he felt he could hold aloof from the demanding tasks of personal and communal effort in the Order of concrete realisations.
It is the temporal order in particular that the layman must regard as the special sphere in which his apostolic initiatives are needed.
He must seek to humanise and to Christianise the temporal things of creation-the ideas, the institutions, the frameworks of social living-as well as to join with the priest in the offering of Sacrifice, in the teaching of religious Ire
in the bringing to Christ of the non-Christians.
THE temporal order is above all,
in fact, the object proper to the apostolic activity of the layman ; the one which he cannot ignore without being untrue to his essential vocation as a lay Christian.
Pope Pius XII has put it this way:
" Although it is clear that Catholic Action should exercise its influence primarily in promoting the works of the apostolate, its members are not prevented from joining other organisations whose purpose is Zo reform social and political life according to the principles and teaching of the Gospel ; in fact their participation not only as citizens but also as Catholics is a right which they possess and a duty to which they are bound." (3).
THE CHARITY OF CHRIST'
ABOVE all, in our prayers, in our thoughts and in our actions, we must be mindful always of that supreme obligation of all Christians to which the living Vicar of Christ has so often, and so urgently, called the attention and the resolve of His children: 1 speak of charity: The charity of Christ: The mark by which we are to be known; "Our love one for another."
Charity ! How much might not be achieved if only Christians would be totally loyal to the spirit of their faith and radiate as they should, in thought and action, the immense love of the divine Trinity! What might we not hope for