(The following is a summary of Apostolicam Actuositatem, of the Second Vatican Council. It retains the original preface and the chapter and numbering according to the actual ordered sections of the document.)
DECREE ON THE APOSTOLATE OF THE LAITY
SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS,
POPE PAUL VI
ON NOVEMBER 18, 1965
1. To intensify apostolic activity, this council addresses the laity, as it has done in other documents, for the Church would scarcely exist and function without the activity of the laity. This decree describes the nature, character and diversity of the lay apostolate.
Chapter I – The Vocation of the Laity to the Apostolate
2. The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom, enabling all men to take part in His salvific redemption, and for a relationship with Christ. Directed to this goal is the apostolate. In the Church there is a diversity of ministry but a oneness of mission. The laity share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and by this have their own share of the mission of the whole people of God.
3. The laity derive this duty and right from their common baptism and by the power of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation. On all Christians is laid the responsibility of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world.
4. The success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity’s living union with Christ. These faithful mist make progress in holiness in a happy and ready spirit, and family concerns or secular affairs should never be irrelevant to their spiritual life.
5. The mission of the Church is not only to bring the message and grace of Christ to mankind, but also exists to penetrate the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel.
Chapter II – Objectives
6. The mission of the Church pertains to the salvation of men, and the apostolate is for the manifestation of Christ’s message by word and deed, mainly through the ministering of the sacraments. This service exists in the way of life of the laity, and in the engagement with believers and non-believers.
7. God’s plan for the world is that men should work together to renew and perfect the temporal order. The good things of life aid in this matter, and though marred by original sin and some men falling into error, the laity must take up a renewal of these things.
8. Well every exercise of the apostolate should be motivated by charity, some works become a special event that expressions of this charity. For example, loving God with one’s whole heart, and one’s neighbor as oneself. Also, pity for the need and the sick, which are held highest in honor by the Church.
Chapter III – The Various Fields of the Apostolate
9. The laity carry out their apostolate both in the Church and in the world by various activities. We wish to list the more important field of action.
10. The laity have their work cut out for them, because their activity is so necessary, that without them pastors would be unable to achieve their full effectiveness. They bring people who perhaps are far removed from it and offer special skills to make the care of souls more effective.
11. The apostle it of married persons and families is a unique importance to the relationship of the Church and civil society. Christian husbands and wives are cooperators in grace and witness to their children by educating them by word and example.
12. Human persons in exert a very important influence in modern society, though sometimes they move too quickly, they seem to cope adequately with their new responsibilities. The high and influence in society demands of them apostolic activity but their nature also qualifies them for this. Therefore in adults should stimulate young people and cultivate them to respect and trust.
13. The apostolate in the social milieu is so much the duty and responsibility of the laity that I can never be performed by others. The laity the fulfill this mission do so by conforming their lives to their faith, observing fraternal charity, and building up society.
14. The vast field for the apostle it is opened up in the national and international levels, and the laity should make their opinion felt in civil authority, acting with justice in legislation for the common good.
Chapter IV – The Various Forms of the Apostolate
15. The laity exchanged activity as individuals or as members of groups or associations.
16. The individual apostle it is the origin of the whole way a past lives, even of the organize type. All lay persons are called to this type of apostolate.
17. There is a very urgent need for this individual apostolates where the freedom of the Church is threatened. Catholics are going to be very useful to gather in small groups for serious conversation.
18. The faithful should participate in the apostle are by way of united effort in their family communities and in of their parishes or diocese.
19. A variety of associations in the apostolate, some with an apostolic purpose of the Church, infuse a Christian spirit to bear witness to Christ through the works of mercy and charity. These associations serve the mission of the Church to the world. The laity have the right to found in control these organizations.
20. Many decades ago the laity began to dedicate themselves to the apostolate, grouping themselves into various kinds of societies, which were deservedly recommended by the popes and Bishops, and this holy council recommends these associations as well.
21. All associations of the apostle it must be given due appreciation. Those wishing the hierarchy has recommended are praised, or have an urgent need, must be held in high esteem by all faithful.
22. There is a source of great joy for the Church in the fact that there is a daily increase and a number of lay persons who offer their personal service to associations and activities. Pastors should greatly welcome these.
23. The lay apostolate should be incorporated into the apostolate of the whole church according to the right system, and this is most fitting since a particular activity in the church requires harmony.
Chapter V – External Relationships
24. The hierarchy should promote the apostle it of the laity, yet and should allow room for the distinctiveness of each to be preserved.
25. Clergy should keep in mind that the right and duty to exercise this apostolate is common to all and special care should be taken to select priests were capable promoting this.
26. In dioceses, there should be councils which assist in the apostolic work of the Church.
27. The heritage of the gospel and the common duty of Christian witness require the cooperation of Catholics with other Christians, promoting human values.
28. The apostle it can attain its maximum effectiveness only for a diversified and the reformation, and continuous spiritual and doctrinal progress of the person himself.
Chapter VI – Formation for the Apostolate
29. The laity are especially characterized by the secular and particular quality of their own form of the spiritual life. However, the lay person should learn how to perform the mission of Christ and the Church by basing his life off the belief of the divine mystery.
30. The training for the apostle which should start with the children’s earliest education, for parents have the task and training their children to recognize God’s love for all men.
31. The various types of the apostle of the band also specially suitable formation, by engaging the culture, instructed in the true meaning of things, and by works of charity
32. There are many aids for lay persons, for study, spirituality, and others, which developed and nourishment of the spiritual life.
33. This council entreats all the laity in the Lord to answer the urgent invitation of Christ and the impulse of the Holy Spirit.
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