On Vocation of the Laity

«Apostolate Depends Upon the Laity’s Living Union With Christ»

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 13, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- Here is a translation of the Angelus address Benedict XVI gave today from the window of his study to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Proclaimed blessed this morning in St. Peter’s Basilica were the Servants of God Charles de Foucauld, presbyter; Maria Pia Mastena, founder the Sisters of the Holy Face; and Maria Crocifissa Curcio, of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. They are added to the great number of blessed who, during John Paul II’s pontificate, were proposed to the veneration of the ecclesial communities in which they lived, with the awareness of what the Second Vatican Council intensely stressed, namely, that those who are baptized are called to the perfection of Christian life: priests, religious and laity, each one according to his own charism and specific vocation.

In fact, the Council paid great attention to the role of the lay faithful, dedicating a whole chapter to them, the fourth, of the constitution «Lumen Gentium» on the Church to define their vocation and mission, rooted in baptism and confirmation, and oriented to «seek[ing] the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God» (No. 31).

On Nov. 18, 1965, the fathers approved a specific decree on the apostolate of the laity, «Apostolicam Actuositatem.» Above all it stresses that «the success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity’s living union with Christ» (No. 4), that is, a solid spirituality, nourished by active participation in the liturgy and expressed in the style of the evangelical beatitudes.

Of great importance for the laity, moreover, are professional competence, a sense of family, a civic sense and social values. Although they are called individually to offer their personal testimony, especially precious wherever the freedom of the Church finds impediments, the Council stressed the importance of the organized apostolate, necessary to influence the general mentality, social conditions and institutions (cf. No. 18). In this connection, the fathers encouraged the various lay associations, insisting also on their formation in the apostolate. Our beloved Pope John Paul II wished to dedicate the 1987 synodal assembly to the topic of the vocation and mission of the laity, after which the apostolic exhortation «Christifideles Laici» was published.

In conclusion, I would like to recall that last Sunday in the Cathedral of Vicenza a mother of a family was beatified, Eurosia Fabris, known as «Mamma Rosa,» model of Christian life in the lay state. Let us commend all the people of God to all those who are already in the heavenly homeland, to all our saints and, first of all, to Mary Most Holy and her husband, Joseph, so that in every baptized person the awareness will grow of being called to work with commitment and fruitfulness in the vineyard of the Lord.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims. In French and English he said:]

I greet you, beloved French-speaking pilgrims. Charles de Foucauld, who was just beatified, invites us to spiritually follow the path of Nazareth and the silence he lived in the desert. In fact, from there, with Mary, we can discover the mystery of Christ, who became humble and poor to save us, to make us children of his own father and brothers in humanity. Like brother Charles, let us draw from the Eucharistic mystery and from contemplation the strength for life and for the testimony by which we contribute to evangelization.

[In English, the Pontiff said]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. Today the Church celebrated the beatification of three outstanding witnesses to Christ and his Gospel. May the prayers of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Blessed Maria Pia Mastena and Blessed Maria Crocifissa Curcio accompany all of you on the path of holiness and joyful fidelity to the Lord’s will. God bless you all!

[Translation by ZENIT]

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