THE LAY APOSTOLATE
[continued from yesterday]
Of course in some sense this has been always true; but it has never been more true than now, unless we except the very first ages of the Church.
Then, too, she depended, perhaps more than on anything else, on the practice and example of her children.
Without that, as St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, and St. John so often hint, all preaching would be in vain; with it, then apostles might be put to death, bishops and popes might be exiled and imprisoned, but for all that the Church would conquer the world.
For that was a people's world, and the Church was a people's Church; and if the people were worthy of the Church then the world was hers.
So is it in our day: the people own the world in a very real sense in this generation, and they, and almost they alone, can decide in what state the future of the Church shall be.
More than prelates, more than priests and apostles and preachers, they can spread her cause or can condemn her to yet further subjection.
For this reason it behoves us to look about and bestir ourselves. If so much lies with us, if this is one among the many consequences of our hardly-earned liberty, then it behoves us to accept it and to use it well.
For every gift of liberty brings with it a corresponding duty; if I am to be worthy of the one I must look to the other.
What then is imposed upon me?
Am I to turn missioner and preacher?
Am I to become an exponent of the Church and her teaching?
Am I to put religion in the first place in my life, and make all the rest revolve round it?
Does this entail for me the sacrifice of myself or of the things that are mine: of my family, my friends, my pleasures. my relaxations, my interests?
Or if not, what exactly is meant by, and what is the limit of this responsibility which has come to me?
For if the gaining of freedom, which is the conquest of this generation, means all this, then it would seem to be but the exchanging of one kind of subjection for another....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918