1. The role of the laity in the mission of the Church has always been considered an indispensable one. 1 The theology of the apostolate of the laity developer alongside with the evolving role of the laity in the contemporary salvific building up of the Church. The post-Vatican II reflections on the laity as well as the Concilliar theology on the laity remind laymen of their exalted duty in the salvific work of the Church. 2 It should be the concern of both of the clergy and the Bishop that laymen be inspired to a constantly deepening awareness of their position in the building up of the Christian community In this portion of the Lord’s vineyard. 3
2. The Synod issuing its instructions on the apostolate of the laity now focuses its attention on some signs of the times, the vocation of laymen and localization of the apostolate in the parish. This document ends with resolution for a more organized apostolate of the laity in the Diocese of Lucena.
SOME SIGNS OF THE TIMES
3. What makes the lay apostolate far more urgent today are the conditions now obtaining in our Diocese. Even though it is not for this Synod to give a profound and complete analysis of the situation of the Diocese, nevertheless the recognition of some of the “signs” has impelled the Synod to embark on the long felt renewal, an unprecedented task hoping to enlist the cooperation of the whole people of God in the diocese.
4. What are some of the signs?
It is now fourteen years after the celebration of the Second Vatican Council. The Synod sadly notes that the spirit as well the teaching of the Council have not sunk deeply in the consciousness of the majority of people.
5. The Diocese of Lucena has more than a million Catholic population, of which hardly .03% belong to the clergy and religious thus leaving 99.97% to belong to the vast potential human resources of lay people.
6. Only an insignificant fraction of the laity, that is, one percent, is presently and directly engaged in organized apostolate. The Synod sees the great need to increase both the quantity and quality of Christian lay apostles. It is high time that through the impulse given by the Spirit upon the Synod the entire people of God in the Diocese be motivated and mobilized in the apostolate. The clergy under the direction and guidance of the Bishop will have to awaken the vast number of the laity from its lethargy and thus convert them into a pulsating, spiritually vibrating community of Christians.
7. The survey which has been conducted reveals that the parish priests, to reorganize the Parish Pastoral Council, in order that same may be able to meet the requirements of the Conciliar Spirit. The Synod further enjoins all Parish Pastoral Councils to be involved in three areas of the apostolate, such as Worship, Formation and Service.
8. There is no church that exists in a vacuum. The Diocese is part of a much bigger portion of the Universal Church, that is, of the Church in the Philippines. Whatever happens in and to the Philippines is felt by the people of Quezon Province. Oneness with the rest of the country makes us participate both in the joy and suffering, in the success and failure, in the aspirations and hopes of the other man. The people of the Diocese of Lucena, therefore, are influenced too by the signs of the times obtaining in the other parts of the country. They cannot remain unaffected by them. Linkage, therefore, with the National Council of Lay Apostolate must be firmly established.
9. As the Council says: “The lay faithful belong fully both to the people of God and civil society. They belong to the nation into which they were born, they begin to share in its cultural riches by their education, they are linked to its life by many social ties, and they contribute to its progress by personal effort in their profession, they feel its problems to be their own and they try to solve them. They belong also to Christ because by faith and baptism they have been reborn in the Church, so that by newness of life and work they might belong to Christ, in order that all things might be subjected to God in Christ and that God might be all in all.” 4
THE VOCATION OF THE LAYMAN
10. The layman’s vocation to the apostolate is discussed in the conciliar documents, particularly in the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, the Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. The theology of the mission of the laity in the world is likewise constrained in Chapter 4 of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church. Many benefits for the church can be expected from the laity, if these conciliar pronouncements will be explained to them. These documents are fruitful source for pastor’s allocutios and conferences to his parishioners.
11. With the Council, the Synod declares that “the church is not truly established and does not fully live, or is a perfect sign of Christ unless there is a genuine laity existing and working alongside the Hierarchy. For the Gospel cannot become deeply rooted in the mentality, life and work of a people without the active presence of lay people”. 5 The Synod likewise declares that “Inserted as they are in the Mystical Body of Christ by baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, it is by the Lord Himself that (the laity) are assigned to the apostolate.” 6 The distinctive task of laymen is the renewal of the temporal order. “Guided by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church, prompted by Christian love, they should act in this domain in a direct way and in their own specific manners.” 7
12. The foundations, 8 the objectives 9 and the various fields and form of the apostolate 10 demand from laymen no single type of spirituality. Nothing in their temporal affairs and interest should be alien to their spirituality. Basically this spirituality of laymen consists in “their living union with Christ” but it takes its particular character from the circumstance of each one’s state in life. 1 Spirituality or holiness of life is the meaning and basis of all apostolate in the Church. Since all are called to holiness, all are invited to some kind of apostolate within the Christian community.
13. Laymen develop their own mode of spirituality through the witness of their whole lay life issuing from faith, hope and charity, and through active participation in liturgy. 12 The Synod reminds everyone of the intimate connection between prayer and life: prayer and devotion should bear fruit in the form of apostolate and service.
14. The apostolate of the laity can be accomplished either individually or group. 13 Individual apostolate is open to all. Some laymen may refuse to join the group apostolate on account of lack of time, commitment to their secular profession, or simply inability to insert themselves in the group. While these and reasons must be respected, the laymen concerned should be encouraged anyhow to embark on some apostolate at least on the individual basis, but still under guidance of the leaders of the Church.
15. The Synod enjoins everyone in the apostolate, of whatever kind, to help at the same time in the preservation of the unity of the Church both in doctrine and government through their prompt acceptance of the decisions of their pastors, representing Christ. 14 Pastors, on the other hand, should recognize and promote the dignity and responsibility of the laity.
LOCALIZATION OF THE APOSTOLATE IN THE PARISH
16. The parish pastorally is the portion of the Church where Christian life is concretely experienced. More than the diocesan local church, the Parish to an average Christian is where the layman is born, grows, and lives his Christian life. It is in the Parish where the layman is called to the apostolate, whether as individual or in group. It is here where Christians exercise their different gifts and charisms collaborating with the Parish Priest, their shepherd and teacher, in penetrating with Christ’s Gospel the various structures of societal life.
17. The Diocese of Lucena takes pride in the presence of laymen in the Parishes who are ever willing to come to the assistance of their Pastors. May their number increase. It is from the rank of competent and exemplary laymen that the members of the Parish Pastoral Council should be taken.
18. The parishioners as well as the lay leaders should join hands with their priest in building their parish into a worshipping, learning and serving community. This will be accomplished through the formation of lay as well as sacerdotal leadership, through the intensification of core-groups among the parishioners and through the formation of small communities. An ideal Christian community is a group of people living in the context of social, cultural and geographical situation, enjoying interdependence among themselves, and having a common objective. Needless to say, Christ is the center and the goal of all the parishioners’ strivings and apostolic activities.
19. The Parishioners are to be encouraged to join some Church association which they feel can become their vehicle not only for their own sanctification but also for that of others, their vehicle as well as for the work of evangelization and development. 15 In majority of the parishes in the Diocese of Lucena , there exist pious association and movements of laymen, some of which have continued to serve the local Church inspite of meager moral and spiritual support and encouragement of priests and laity to one another and their common dedication to the objectives of the local Church should be put into practice. 16
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE APOSTOLATE
IN THE PARISH
Goal Setting in the Parish Level
RESOLUTION 1. The parish should have a vision or an over-all objective which will unite all the pastoral activities in the parish and maximize all available resources, human and material.
R-2. The objectives of apostolic activities in the parish should be broad enough to reach all classes of people regardless of their social, human and geographical position. They should be given proper and equal concern by both parish priest and parochial lay leaders.
R-3. The HOLY EUCHARIST shall be made the center of Christian Community Building. In order that the formation of parishioners may be focused on the Eucharist, whenever possible and befitting, the meaningful gathering of parishioners may be culminated with the celebration of the Eucharist.
R-4. All parts of the celebration of the Eucharist which can be properly performed by layman should be assigned to them.
The three Areas of the Apostolate
R-5. The PARISH WORSHIP COMMITTEE which shall be established in each parish shall see to it that its members are adequately trained to take charge of supplying the liturgical needs of the people. 17
R-6. Popular devotional practices which do not contradict any doctrine of the Church shall be encouraged and, taking into account the local conditions, made to conform witch the liturgical spirit and serve Christian community building.
R-7. Prayer life should be promoted in every parish through prayer meeting sessions of parochial lay leaders and of the parishioners themselves.
R-8. In order to ensure the ongoing formation of the laity in the matter of Christian doctrine and spirituality, a PARISH FORMATION COMMITTEE shall be established in every parish. Its task will be to plan and implement the continuous formation of the parishioners in Christian living. This shall be done with the supervision of the Diocesan Commission of Formation. 18
R-9. While the priest is expected to give example of a life of prayer, the laymen are likewise expected to develop in their own way their life of prayer.
R-10. As much as possible laymen should attend retreats and recollection and practice the approved devotions as means of developing their spirituality.
R-11. Laymen are encouraged to seek the counsel of priest on how to progress in their spirituality as a means of making them more effective in their fields of apostolate.
R-12 A PARISH SERVICE COMMITTEE shall be established in every parish, the task of which will be to plan and implement under the supervision of the Diocesan Commission on Service the parish developmental program. In this way a strong brotherhood and mutual dependence under the Fatherhood of God will awakened among the laity.
The Formation of the Parochial Leaders
R-13. For the training of parochial lay leaders a staff or core-group shall be recruited from the members of Parish Pastoral Council, if such is already existing and if its members are capable of handling the training program of lay leaders. The members of the core-group may also be recruited from the members of the various organizations, civic or religious.
R-14. The training of the lay leaders shall be in the areas of worship, formation and services.
R-15. A system of follow-up shall be adopted in order to ensure the on-going formation of lay leaders.
R-16. The reorganization of existing parochial associations, including their leadership, should be undertaken after the Synod.
R-17. The parish priest as well as the parochial leaders. Through properly scheduled home visitations and other means, should study the laity’s social groupings situations, values, aspirations, interests, problems, needs and resources, in order to discover their respective possible insertion in the apostolate of the Church.
R-18. Potential leaders should make themselves available in order that their parish priests may be able to use their special talents and charisms in building Christian community.
R-19. Parochial lay leaders, in cooperation with their parish priests, should study the real condition of the parishioners, and together prepare a responsive plan of action.
R-20. The laymen should invite their parish priest to their meetings on parish activities. The parish priest on the other hand should try to accommodate such request in his schedule.
R-21. The laymen should join their parish priest in attending seminars and training programs which are needed to pursue their parish pastoral program.
R-22. Dialogue with their parish priest should be prepared and initiated by the laymen in order to foster unity and solidarity with their parish priest.
R-23. Circulars, bulletins, etc. which concern parish activities and community organization should be shared with lay leaders and whole community.
The Formation of Christian Communities
R-24. In the formation of small Christian communities in the parish, local resources should be made use of and the training of local lay leaders should be given priority.
R-25. Measures shall be adopted in order to extend the building of small Christian communities to the barrios and barangays.
R-26. Sociological methodology and the science of community organization should be taken advantages of in the pastoral ministry.
R-27. General orientation about the social and behavioral sciences should be included in the course or renewal for priests and formation of lay leaders.
Coordination of Parishes Activities
R-28. The PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL shall be established in every parish in order to coordinate all the activities of the parish towards the building of the Local Church which is the Diocese.
R-29. Chapters of the Parish Pastoral Council shall be created in the small Christian communities.
R-30. The Parish Pastoral Council shall evaluate the pastoral program of the parish at definite times of the year in order to find out whether the parochial apostolate conforms to the vision of the parish program and to the overall objectives of the Diocese.
1 AA no. I.
2 LG no. 33;SC no. 26-40; CD no. 17-18.
3 AG no. 21.
5 ibid. cf. LG 31 and 33.
6 AA no. 3.
7 AA. no. 7.
8 AA no. 3.
9 AA no. 9f; 15.
10 AA no. 6 and 7.
11 AA no. 4.
12. SC no. 9.
13 AA no. 17 and 18.
14 LG no. 37.
15 Cf. Document 7 of the Synod, no. 42, aa no. 4, no. 19, no.20
16 LG no. 37; AA no. 24 and 25
17 Cf. Document 5, R-59 up to 62 of the Synod; Document 7, par. 37f of the Synod.
18 Cf. Document 7, par. 37f of the synod; Document 5, R-12 up to 14 of the Synod.