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|The Scalabrinian Congregations|
The Missionary Fathers and Brothers of St. Charles
The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles
Scalabrini A living voice
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b) THE ACTIVITY OF LAY PEOPLE
"The lay army of the Church of Christ"
The activity of lay people must be joined harmoniously to the activity of the clergy (...). The lay Church of Satan must be counteracted not just by priestly power but also by the lay power of Christ's Church. God has always given victory to these two forces (priests and lay people) when joined together. "The gates of hell shall never prevail against my Church," he assured us. Now, the Church, in its fullest sense, the Church the beloved spouse of the Nazarene, the Church the immortal kingdom of the living God, the Church the mystical body of Jesus, is not made up just of priests, nor just of bishops, nor just of the Pope, but of the shepherds and faithful together, even though the latter depend on the former. 9
"Be our mediators"
The Church certainly will not perish as a result of the present battles, just as it did not as a result of much more formidable ones in the course of nineteen centuries. But we would fail to appreciate the plan of divine Providence were we to abstain from working toward its victory under the pretext that the Church was entrusted to the priests (...).
There is no question that Jesus Christ could defend and safeguard his Church. But, out of his great kindness, he called human beings to the honor of being her helpers. He did not call only the priests but also the lay people. He called men and women, the mighty and the humble. rich and poor, learned and unlearned.
My beloved lay people, you must therefore appreciate the nobility and dignity of your mission and must try to live up to it (...). Be our mediators just as we are God's mediators on your behalf (...). Of what use is it to deplore with endless lamentations the decline of faith and morals and the universal chaos, if we do not want to inconvenience ourselves; if we do no want to do anything to remedy the situation; if, once the battle begins, we abandon the field, run away, and hide? Were we not all marked on our foreheads with the oil of the strong? Were we not all enrolled in the army of Christ? 10
"Everyone is an apostle of the truth"
All of us, with courage, constancy, and discipline, must use whatever lawful means we can to influence this society, the majority of which is Catholic, a majority, however, that is ruled by an unconcerned and antichristian minority. I say all of us, because we would make a serious mistake if we thought that the defense of the faith is the exclusive duty of the clergy, whereas it is really the duty of all those who profess it.
The Church, the mystical body of Christ, is a moral body, made up of many members, different from each other, yet all united in one single body, with a structure and supply network by which all the members can help each other and contribute to its life, vigor, health, and preservation. Now, since the Church is made up of both clergy and laity, the clergy cannot succeed without the laity, nor the laity without the clergy. No, religion is not a patrimony of which the clergy alone are the beneficiaries. Since religion serves everybody, it must be defended by all (...).
No age, office or state of life is exempt from this duty, just as no office, age or state of life is excluded from its benefits. On the other hand, when religion languishes, when consciences demean themselves and freedom dies out, is it the fault of the clergy alone? Do not lay people, too, and all of society suffer great harm when this happens? Moreover, a faith that can look with indifference and insensibility on the spread of evil and that, in the midst of blasphemies and scandals, is able only to focus on itself so as not to perish, is a faith some might consider good. But frankly it is something I find quite hard to understand. Besides, religion is truth. Every person possessing the truth has the duty to spread it, to share it with those who do not know it, and to defend it with all one's energy when it is attacked. In this sense, everyone is an apostle of the truth just as everyone can become a martyr of the truth. 11
"Laity and Church: two sisters indissolubly united"
What a beautiful and consoling spectacle we are witnessing! Standing next to their holy shepherds and mingling with an illustrious group of priests, we see an equally illustrious
group of lay people, all animated by the desire to do good, all aflame with a lofty zeal for the holiest of causes, namely the cause of the Church (...).
Today, unfortunately, some are trying to erect a wall between laity and Church, between these two realities that are sisters indissolubly united. To better attain this end, what have the followers of modem liberalism done? They have tried to make the Church an object of hatred, painting it in the eyes of the people with dark colors. They have profaned the holiest and most precious terms and given them outrageous meanings so as to turn them against her. Against the Church's people, things, and institutions, they have recruited the notions of patriotism, liberty, human dignity, science, equality, and progress: terms that, coming from them, are fraudulent and dripping with blood.
Now, to know, love, and obey this Church, to be concerned with her struggles and victories, to spread her teachings and help her ministers, to defend her rights and make up for the harm done to her, to comfort her in her sorrows, this, especially in our days, is one of the most important duties of Catholics. This is what the united efforts of clergy and laity should aim at. 12
"We want to be real Christians"
We want to be real Christians, Christians in faith and in deed. Be we, priests or lay people, learned or unlearned, rich or poor, must all be united as one family. Each of us in our own heart and all of us together, with one mind and one heart, must offer ourselves to the Father of the faithful, to the holy Vicar of the Prince of peace and justice, as obedient and docile doers of everything he wants and desires for the indivisible good of religion and country.
We must be united as real brothers and sisters not only inside the church but also outside the church so as to help and comfort each other, to work for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ and extend his reign in families, schools, and public life. We must be united if we want to ensure for ourselves the right to real Christian freedom ‑- which ought to be equal for all and not be just the absurd privilege of sectarian cliques ‑- and if we hope to enjoy that freedom without arrogance or desire to lord it over others.
For the sake of their families and in the interest of our country, we
must defend our poor young people from bad example and harmful teachings, from immoral behavior and all kinds of corrupting influences.
We want freedom for the Church, freedom for our Leader. We want freedom of worship, freedom of work, freedom to keep the Lord's day, freedom to exercise our most sacred rights, in a word, the freedom of the children of God. 13
"Today the laity's field of work is vast"
What a vast field of activity lay people have in our day: promoting, encouraging, and distributing good literature; creating and organizing Catholic committees and societies; ceaselessly campaigning for religious instruction in our schools and for Sunday rest; contributing to political administration, whenever permissible, by voting in municipal elections; counteracting by word and deed, whenever necessary, the pernicious influence of the Masonic miasma, that has by now penetrated everywhere; whenever possible, getting rid of those bullies, those cowards in the municipalities who sometimes dare to wound the deepest sentiments of their people by letting this faith be ridiculed and their most sacred rights and most cherished traditions trampled underfoot; gathering the youngsters at the Sunday youth centers and schools of Christian doctrine, thus keeping them away from the corruption of the world; coming to the assistance of our august Common Father in his poverty through our filial offerings; supplying our churches with new ministers by our offerings for the support of poor seminarians; setting up credit unions that will root out usury and help those in need, especially among the working class; demanding with dignity and wisdom but with strength, courage, and determination, and always by legal means, real and genuine freedom and independence for the Supreme Pontiff, our head and father, the kind of freedom and independence he, the only judge on the matter, considers necessary. All these works, one more necessary and meritorious than the other, will confound the enemies of the faith, will nourish the flame of divine love in us, and will show that we really are worthy sons and daughters of the Church of Jesus Christ. 14