The diagram above outlines a complete plan of Catholic Action organization in accordance with the directions of Pope Pius XI. The Holy Father did not intend organization to be accomplished in exactly this manner; his instructions were only directive. In general, Catholic Action in our country is thus organized; in every parish the pastor is the center and director of all Catholic activities. However, it is evident that the hierarchy, by means of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, aims to coordinate the activities of the different religious organizations, into a united Catholic Action.

63. Catholic Action

    What is Catholic Action? --Catholic Action is the participation of the organized Catholic laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy, for the purpose of winning or of bringing back souls to Christ.

    The National Catholic Welfare Conference (see Chapter 61 on The National Catholic Welfare Conference) does not change one fundamental fact: that in each diocese all organizations and activities are dependent on and responsible to the bishop.

  1. Catholic Action is the service and apostolate of the laity, commandeered by the episcopate. It must be dependent on and perfectly obedient to the hierarchy; there can be no Catholic Action without an episcopal commission.

    Since it is a participation, it must depend on the whole; that is, on the hierarchy of Pope, bishops, and priests, to whom Jesus Christ gave the mission to save souls for Him. Catholic Action seeks to establish the reign of Christ, to restore all things in Christ, to spread Catholic principles in every field of life,-in other words, to Christianize the world.

  2. Catholic Action is religion in action, the result of a living faith. It implies, therefore, personal sanctification, although not directly aimed at it. From this personal sanctification arise works for the salvation of our neighbor, works that make lay apostles of members of Catholic Action.

    Catholic Action requires that Catholics should possess solid piety, a sound knowledge of the Catholic Faith, and unquestioning obedience to the Pope and the hierarchy. The love of God that fills the heart of a faithful Catholic will impel him to join in the work of converting the world to Christ; it will urge him to contribute his help in all the ways he can in the lay state. "So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven."

  3. Catholic Action therefore makes of the layman a soldier of Christ, a co-missionary of the priesthood. At present the activities are channeled through the National Council of Men, the National Council of Women, and the National Catholic Youth Council. These Councils are really federations, made up of existing lay religious organizations affiliated to make one whole.

    In the old days when Christianity was new in a pagan world, the laity labored with the Apostles in making Christ known and loved. Today the need for the laity's help is as urgent as at the beginning. Much that was truly Christian has succumbed to modern atheism; the kingdom of Christ is now divided. There are not enough priests; and even if there were, many places, such as mines, offices, and factories would not be easy for a priest to enter in, to win souls to Christ.

    What activities are embraced in the work of Catholic Action? --Catholic Action embraces in its work every form of apostolate.

    Catholic Action takes into account different aspects of the life of man, the most important of which are the home, school, social, business, and civil life. Catholic Action gives people a complete shaping, not only religious and moral, but social and specialized, according to their condition in life. It helps them solve problems of life in a Christian way.

  1. Catholic Action is concerned with the home, because the home makes or unmakes the individual and nation. Catholic Action is exercised there when the members do all they can to keep the family united and happy, one in the service of God.

    Efforts should be made to make the home a joyful place to stay in, so that the members may find their home the most interesting place to go to. Every home should be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Only good books and newspapers must be admitted into the Catholic home.

  2. Catholic Action is concerned with the school, which, especially in these days, influences the minds and hearts of the young so deeply. Many modern parents think they have done their duty when they send their children to school; and so the school must be particularly active in Catholic Action, to form those within its walls.

    The pupils must not only learn their religion well, but must also put its principles into practice. They must live so that a Christian life will become second nature to them, and when they leave the school they will continue such a Christian life in the adult world. Even during school days, then, the pupils should practice true Catholic Action in their homes, with their companions, in their school activities, etc.

  3. Catholic Action is concerned with the social life of the nation; it is social action, for it strives towards the greatest good of society. It achieves Christian order for society, by developing integrity of morals, purity of domestic life, practice of charity.

    In a word, Catholic Action leads to the peace and prosperity of society as a means towards the attainment of its final purpose of establishing the kingdom of Christ. How great can be the effect in social life of the good example of Catholic young men and young women living according to the principles of their religion! They can prove the truth that it is not necessary to sin in order to have fun. They can give effective example in their dress, speech, and general behaviour. How great the evil, then, of their example when Catholic young men and young women from the best schools act against the principles they have learned, and in social life show themselves immodest, hardhearted, and cheap in their behavior.

    In business, the proprietor must be just to all under him, pay a living wage, and be absolutely honest in his dealings with customers and others.

  4. Catholic Action is concerned with the civil life; however, it is above and beyond partisan politics. It does not engage in political squabbles.

    Catholic Action is for a supernatural end, but it cannot be divorced from civil society, since it is concerned with souls who are members of the civil society. It permits what the Church permits; each member may belong to whatever lawful political party he may choose, provided he acts according to Christian principles. The voter must vote only for honest and capable officials. The official, in turn, must think only of the spiritual and material good of the body he is serving, and forget selfish ends.

  5. There is variety in the works of Catholic Action, and in the means it uses to effect its ends. This variety is according to necessities of time and place.

    One place may demand the teaching of catechism; another, the support of the parochial school; another, the defense of the Church's rights against unjust and unlawful impositions of civil officials; another, vigilance over the press and the moving pictures; another, the education of the working classes. In many places, all or most of these necessities, with others, ought to be met. This is why an organization of well-trained laity is imperative.

    Main Page