Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vatican II and the Laity

I'm giving a brief (10-15 minute) talk to a group of Catholic graduate students at Princeton University this Thursday evening from 6pm to 8pm (the evening begins with a simple meal, followed by my talk, followed by discussion and some Q&A) on "Participation in the Liturgy and Beyond".  The outline of the talk is:
  1. Promotion and Reform
    1. Vatican II addressed liturgical instruction before it addressed liturgical reform
    2. Excerpts from Sacrosanctum Concilium 9-11
  2. How do we participate in the Mass?
    1. Through baptism, we have the right and duty to participate
    2. True participation is only possible through baptism
    3. Three degrees of participation
      1. Internal:  perception of the sacred mysteries (cf. De Musica Sacra 22, Musicam Sacram 15)
      2. External:  manifesting internal participation (cf. De Musica Sacra 22, Musicam Sacram 15)
      3. Sacramental:  receiving Holy Communion (cf. De Musica Sacra 22, Musicam Sacram 23)
      4. There is a need for instruction before the faithful can achieve intelligent and active participation in the Mass (cf. De Musica Sacra 22)
    4. Joining ourselves to Christ, and our sacrifices to Christ's
      1. Sacrosanctum Concilium 48
      2. Lumen Gentium 11, 34
      3. Presbyterorum Ordinis 2, 5
      4. When?  Collect, Prayer of the Faithful, Offertory, Consecration, etc.
  3. How do we participate outside of Mass?
    1. Dismissal = Mission = Sending
    2. What are we sent out to do?
      1. Gospel of John has several "As the Father... so the Son..."
      2. Two of these extend to us:
        1. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love. (John 15:9)
        2. Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. (John 20:21)
      3. Sent for what?
        1. To save the world (cf. John 3:17)
        2. To utter the words of God (cf. John 3:34)
        3. To do the will of the Father (cf. John 6:38)
        4. To lose nothing of all that He has given us (cf. John 6:39)
        5. To teach the Father's commandments (cf. John 7:16)
        6. To be a sign of unity (cf. John 17:20-21)
  4. The Apostolate of the Laity
    1. Apostolate = apostolic activity = mission
      1. Jesus was the Father's "apostle"
      2. Jesus chose His own apostles
      3. The whole Church shares in the work of the apostles ("apostolate")
      4. The laity have a share in the apostolate
    2. Pope Pius XII
      1. Address to 2nd World Congress of the Lay Apostolate (1957)
    3. Vatican II
      1. Lumen Gentium 33-42 (1964)
      2. Apostolicam Actuositatem (1965)
    4. John Paul II
      1. Christifideles Laici (1988)
The first half is about liturgical participation, and the second half is about what liturgical participation should move us to do:  participate in the lay apostolate in the world.  What does the Church say about the lay apostolate?
  • The "consecration of the world" is "essentially the work of the laity." (Pius XII)
  • "Giving the world ... a Christian form and structure [is] the greatest task of the apostolate of the Catholic laity." (Pius XII)
  • The lay apostolate "must always remain within the limits of orthodoxy and must not oppose itself to the legitimate prescriptions of competent authorities." (Pius XII)
  • The laity "exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel." (Vatican II)
  • The "success of the lay apostolate depends on the laity's living union with Christ [which] is nourished by spiritual aids which are common to all the faithful, especially active participation in the sacred liturgy." (Vatican II)
  • In both the spiritual and temporal orders, "the layman, being simultaneously a believer and a citizen, should be continuously led by the same conscience." (Vatican II)
  • The lay apostolate "does not consist only in the witness of one's way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view of leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instruction, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life." (Vatican II)
  • "The laity must take up the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation." (Vatican II)
  • The best exercise of the apostolate of the laity is found in organizations which have as their immediate aim "the evangelization and sanctification of men and the formation of a Christian conscience," which "cooperat[e] with the hierarchy" while maintaining "responsibility for the direction of these organizations," in which the laity "act together in the manner of an organic body," and in which "the laity function under the higher direction of the hierarchy." (Vatican II)


Anonymous said...

Mind opener for a seacher like me. I am trying to understand the role of the Laity in the Catholic Church and this article has given me some insight. Vatican II documents hold such riches for the whole Church but my fear is that 50 years down the line, much of it is yet to reach the intended.


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