Lay apostolate

The laity fulfill the first and principal mission of the Church, when they completely out and live in the mystery of Christ. There are several spheres: the personal inwardness of faith, love, hope; Moreover, the Christian acts in the public half of his Christian family, which is a church in the small and participated in the public daily life and habits of the church; Finally, the layman can participate in the proclamation of faith, worship and charity in service to others. The apostolate includes all three spheres.

The word lay apostolate usually refers to the area of ​​charitable works and preaching.

Historical Development

In the early Church, it was natural that women and men their Christianity as an assignment for the apostolate. Charity towards the poor, the sick, the children and the elderly, and also to the deceased - in those areas, Christians put an order to follow the example of Jesus Christ.

With the development and institutional strengthening of charitable institutions such as hospitals and schools awareness of Apostolatsauftrages all Christians into the background and the church administration and in many cases was left to the Order. Lay people engaged through their membership in fraternities and guilds on charitable and apostolic work of the Church, but went among them the voluntary use declining steadily.

In the early modern period, in view of the many changes in church and society, it came to new apostolic life forms. Starting from France in the first half of the 17th century, Saint Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac founded the Vincentians and Daughters of Charity. Especially for women it was not about monastic life forms, but a lay apostolate, even if a certain separation of work and family life was implied it.

In the 19th century the apostolic commitment among the laity was more widespread; now it was no longer necessary to store orden similar vows, but all Christians should discover their vocation to the apostolate. Some prominent figures, among them St. Vincent Pallotti, solved the apostolate of inadequate binding to offices. So Pallotti difference between various forms of the apostolate: Propagation of the Faith, renewal of faith, works of love. His association in which he wanted to include all the people responsible in the apostolate, he called Catholic apostolate in terms of a general, all-encompassing apostolate.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Catholic Association of beings that brought the whole church and society on behalf of its members came into view.

At the turn of the 20th century, there was the part of the popes a first attempt to renew the lay apostolate, as Leo XIII. established an action of Catholics. With the 1925 by Pope Pius XI. launched a worldwide Catholic Action through structured organization of the lay apostolate was sought. But that was the lay apostolate, unlike Vincent Pallotti had understood, still subordinate to the apostolate of the officers, from which it was derived.

The Vatican II document on the lay apostolate, Apostolicam Actuositatem, finally acknowledges the great importance of the laity and directs the apostolic mission of the laity no longer the order of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, but by the command of Jesus Christ itself. The lay apostolate is an expression of the universal priesthood of believers.

The Second Vatican Council, confirming a trend that was already heavily grown at the time. In the twenties of the 20th century, the Legion of Mary was founded as a movement of the lay apostolate in the Catholic Church. The association was founded by St. Vincent Pallotti in 1835 of the Catholic Apostolate was only in 2003 ecclesiastically recognized. Today there are numerous apostolic communities that are committed to as a lay either fully employed professionally or voluntarily joined private world. The Vatican has established the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to coordinate these initiatives.