11/13/2005, 00.00
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Pope: "organized" apostolate of lay people bears fruit in society and institutions

Bendict XVI recalls another Conciliar document and draws attention to the important mission of each and every baptized person, upholding the new Blesseds as an example.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Another Angelus dedicated to another Conciliar document. For some weeks now, Benedict XVI has recalled Vatican Council II and its documents – which are important for the life and mission of the Church – in a sort of weekly, supplementary catechesis.

Today, he recalled the decree on the apostolate of lay people and their mission in the family and society.

Recalling Charles de Foucauld, Maria Pia Mastena and Maria Crocifissa Curcio, who were beatified today, the pope said they showed how "all those baptised are called to perfection in the Christian life". A "solid spirituality" and "participation in the liturgy", combined with "professional competence", are the instruments through which lay people transmit their "personal testimony" to the world. However, the pope also recalled the necessity of "the organized apostolate, necessary to make an impression on the public mentality, on social conditions and institutions".

Below we reproduce the address of Benedict XVI before the Angelus:

"Dear brothers and sisters!

This morning, at the Basilica of St Peter's, the servants of God, Charles De Foucauld, priest, Maria Pia Mastena, founder of the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Countenance and Maria Crocifissa Curcio, who founded the Congregation of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Therese of the child Jesus, were declared Blessed. They join the abundant ranks of Blesseds who were proposed during the Pontificate of John Paul II for veneration by the Church community in which they lived, in the awareness of all that was strongly emphasized by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. This is that all baptized people are called to perfection in Christian life: priests, religious and lay people, each according to his charisma and specific vocation.

In effect, the Council paid great attention to the role of lay people, dedicating to them an entire chapter – the fourth – of the Constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church, to defining their vocation and mission, rooted in Baptism and Confirmation and directed towards "seeking the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God" (n.31). On 18 November 1965, the Fathers approved a specific Decree on the apostolate of the laity, Apostolicam actuositatem. This highlighted above all that the "fecundity of the apostolate of the laity depends on their vital union with Christ" (ivi 4), that is, on a robust spirituality nourished by active participation in the Liturgy and expressed through the gospel beatitudes. Professional competence, the sense of family, a civic sense and social virtues are all very important for lay people besides. Inasmuch as it is true that they are individually called to transmit their personal witness, especially precious in places where the freedom of the Church is hindered, the Council insists on the importance of an organized apostolate, necessary to make a mark on the public mentality, on social conditions and on institutions (cfr ivi, 18). From this point of view, the Fathers encouraged the many lay associations, insisting on their formation in the apostolate. On the theme of the vocation and mission of the laity, the beloved Pope John Paul II decided to dedicate the 1987 Synodal Assembly, which was followed by the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles laici.

Concluding, I would like to recall that last Sunday, in the Cathedral of Vicenza, the mother of a family was beatified, Eurosia Fabris, known as "Mamma Rosa", a model of Christian lay life. To all those who are already in the heavenly homeland, to all our Saints and first of all to the most Holy Mary and her spouse Joseph, we entrust the entire People of God, that in each and every baptized person may grow the awareness of being called to work with commitment and fruitfully in the vineyard of the Lord."

After the Angelus, Benedict XVI added some greetings in a number of languages.

In Italian, he recalled Thanksgiving Day for the fruits of the earth and of work, which is being marked today in Italy. "I join in the prayer and praise of the faithful, especially of farmers and rural communities, inviting all to give thanks to God for his benefits. I hope that the recent 'pastoral note' of Italian bishops dedicated to the rural world helps this very important part of society to preserve its rich religious and cultural patrimony for the good of the whole country."

To French-speaking pilgrims, he recalled their co-national who has just been declared Blessed, Fr Charles de Foucald. The pope said he "invites us to follow spiritually the journey of Nazareth and the silence he lived in the desert… like Fr Charles, let us immerse ourselves in the Eucharistic mystery and draw strength from contemplation for the existence and witness to contribute to evangelization".

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