Catholic Action, as it grows, must grow in certain prescribed forms. It has its own structure. But the pattern of this structure should not be mistaken for the life of Catholic Action itself, any more than one would mistake a skeleton for the living body. Nor should it be imagined that Catholic Action can be achieved by merely setting up that structure. One may articulate dead bones and lack a vital being. Catholic Action is an affair of life, of growth, and it must be informed by the authentic spirit.
Like all life, too, it springs from seed. And, in this sense, the seed is the small group. It grows as the Church grew, and our Lord gave us the symbol for that when He spoke of the mustard-seed.
It is social growth, the developing unity of man with man in the apostolate.
The elaborated organisation, the machinery of Catholic Action, must be provided as the need for it arises: but the need is not likely to arise until there has been a period of formation, of spiritual, intellectual and social growth.
It is now generally agreed that this period of formation is essential. As our Lord gathered about Him the group of twelve and slowly formed them for their task, so the leaders of Catholic Action must be gathered and formed. It is curious to notice that the most suitable number for a group is usually about twelve: and that a period of proper preparation may usually be set at something like three years. We must not expect that Catholic Action can be manufactured overnight. It must grow in the devotion of groups of laymen whose spiritual and social and intellectual life is quickened by the grace of God and their own application.
What we may call then pre-Catholic-Action requires these groups, and it is essential that they should develop a strong sense of community. Each must be an active community. The constant insistence in the early Church on the idea of community must be renewed. We are members one of another, said Saint Paul; and the pagans almost echoed him: See how these Christians love one another. It was a fact, evident before the eyes of the world, a sign with which the Christians were marked. We must earn again that sign.
The modern world is a world of desocialised individuals, as the Holy Father has insisted in Quadragesima Anno. The old communities have been broken or perverted or reduced. The great mass movements of modem politics are symptomatic of the insecurity and the loneliness which had overtaken the desocialised individual. Men seek companionship. It is natural for men to live in a fellowship. And the Christian fellowship is better than any other which men can know, because it is a fellowship elevated into the life of the Mystical Body of Christ. It is the task of Catholic Action to extend that fellowship. But we can extend it only if we intensify its meanings in ourselves and give them concrete expression in our life and acts.
The one solution to the social problem, to all the problems of man's inhumanity to man, is in the extension of the Christian community and the reign of Christian values and sanctions. We must grow a new society, a Christian commonwealth. We can begin to grow where- ever two or three or four are joined together in His Name.
The first step towards Catholic Action is in the formation of groups of Catholics wherever they will form: until their formation is advanced, until they themselves are advanced in the spiritual, intellectual and active life of Christians, it would seem of little use to establish the large machinery of Catholic Action.
While particular techniques appropriate to one country, to one people, in one set of circumstances are seldom exactly appropriate to other peoples and countries and circumstances, much may be learnt from them. Each place must discover by trial and error its own proper methods. Nevertheless, as we have said before, certain experiences tend to recur in Catholic Action. This present paper is written largely on the basis of those common experiences and upon the experience of group- action in one English-speaking country, Australia, whose general conditions of life are not vastly remote from the other English-speaking countries, approaching especially to those in the United States. In this paper, we have assumed the simplest type of group: six or a dozen laymen come together to discover what Catholic Action is, to discover it not only in study but also in experience.
We feel it right to emphasise this from the first: that study in itself, detached from the experience of action, is sterile. This should be a truism. Unhappily, it is not. The studies of a Catholic Action group should always be determined by the needs, in action, of the group. The two should be knit. And both should be informed and sustained by the spiritual life of the group.
Here then are the three elements of each group's life: it must pray together, it must study together, it must act together, and prayer, study and action should be the familiar life of the group from its first beginning. None should be deferred.
And the group is to be a community, a little society. Its members are to be something more than individuals who chance to meet on odd occasions. They are to have a corporate life. They must pray together, study together, act together.
This sense of togetherness must be developed from the first, and it is developed best by a realisation of the Mystical Body, of that membership one in another, which the group must now express actively. It is somewhat difficult to express actively one's fellowship with three hundred and sixty millions of Catholics, and if we leave our sense of the Mystical Body as but a sense of that vast organism, the impression will be somewhat vague and diffused. But if we give it concrete and immediate expression in our life within some immediate group, the whole conception will be enlivened. The group, coming together, should see itself as new organic growth in the Mystical Body; and one is more and more convinced that the first need of a group is to realise itself as Christ acting, here where it is.
It must grasp this intellectually. We believe that when the group first forms, it should make a point of at once inviting a priest to explain to it the dogma of the Mystical Body, and that the group should then realise its meaning at the one place where it can be fully realised, at the altar-rails. It should go to Holy Communion, and its members should go with a sense of their togetherness, meditating the doctrine.
Here is the beginning of corporate life, of corporate prayer, of corporate study.
Apart from the model of the Apostles, there is good reason for believing that the unit of Catholic Action should be the small group, a group large enough to impose some social discipline, and small enough to preserve the individual quality of each of its members. The social dynamic in almost all history has been the small group, as Mr. Huxley has observed in Ends and Means. Where Catholic Action has been formally organised, under parochial councils, the groups may still exist; they may be federated, under the Councils, and with similar groups in other parishes, as the sections of the J.A.C. or the J.O.C. are organised in Belgium and France. And when this first, aboriginal group which we have premised has grown to fifteen members, say, it should then divide into two groups, retaining, of course, some common direction. Life grows by the growth, the subdivision, the new growth of cells, which as they multiply develop their social relationships with one another, in the general body of the organism.
Certainly, no group should be so large that a member lacks or escapes his personal responsibilities or the opportunities to apply his personal talents.
A group requires, from the first, proper direction, proper authority: and even though it is not formally a Catholic Action group, requiring its mandate from the Bishop, it should work with the knowledge and subject to the spiritual direction of its parish priest or of some priest approved by him.
In many cities, of course, the first group has been recruited from people drawn from different parishes; but we believe it to be extremely important that the groups should, as soon as it is possible, be on a parochial basis, even before Catholic Action is formally instituted. It is not merely that the parish is the traditional, canonically- instituted unit, but that it is the channel by which the sacramental graces are normally received.
We recognise that, before Catholic Action is formally erected by the Bishop, difficulties may occur in the way of parochial organisation. In the first stages of a group, as we have said, it may be drawn from a number of parishes and it may be necessary for its members to maintain some central meeting-place. Or again, the parish priest (such cases have been known) may not be sympathetic; and indeed, this may happen in the case of the most able and busy parish priest who feels that any new group may be a distraction in an already well-organised and smoothly-working parish. These problems must, of course, be solved in each situation, and they are best solved in tact and in charity. It is well for a young group to remember that it has something like a novitiate to fulfil, a period of trial and testing: and that, if its dispositions are satisfactory to the Holy Spirit, that He will certainly not permit its work to be finally checked. If the effort fails, it may be that the Holy Spirit had grave doubts of the group's competence.
It is the writer's general experience that priests have (considering the added responsibilities, the added strain, the added work which Catholic Action imposes on them) responded in a very remarkable way indeed to this new demand. Where Catholic Action lags, it is almost always because the laymen are lagging. In the English-speaking countries, the priests have often been shy to prompt, probably because they realise that the priest cannot create Catholic Action. He can give it spiritual direction, but it is the laymen's task and privilege to move. Too often, apparently, he waits to be prodded.
Thus far, then, we visualise the preparatory group of Catholic Action as a little community of people who pray together, study together, act together.
In each of their meetings they will remember each element of their corporate life; each meeting will be concerned with prayer, with study, with action.
The meetings of a group should be regular and frequent, and desultory attendance should be absolutely discouraged. The member who cannot or will not attend regularly cannot live the life of the group, and is so much deadweight. There may be special occasions when guests are admitted, but it is better to let the numbers dwindle to two or three people who really mean what they are doing than to keep a larger and a casual roll.
Any group that is doing its job properly will normally, in our experience, need to meet at least once a week.
When a Christian properly understands what the apostolate is, when he is properly informed by its spirit, there will be no drag. He will see Catholic Action not merely as a duty, but as the most exciting of adventures; and until a group does feel that, until the cause of Christ does really appear more important than anything else in the world, the temper of the apostolate is absent.
Each meeting must have continuity with the meeting before and after it. This is not a casual gathering of individuals. It is organisation for action. It must possess discipline. And persistence. And patience.
Its officers must be competent. They must be selected with care. They must be discharged with vigour if they are remiss. At its first meeting, the group should select its Leader. He should be selected after prayer, and he should be prayed for. He will probably need it.
The Leader will need to supply energy to the group. Consequently, he must possess it himself. Academic qualifications are not a substitute for energy. And energy, of course, does not excuse a lack of tact or a wilful head. The selection of the Leader is, in fact, a difficult and delicate matter. On general grounds, the man who takes the first steps to form a group reveals one qualification, initiative, and he should be given special regard for the choice. But initiative does not necessarily imply the other necessary qualities; and the prime essential is an honest Christian life. It is certainly one of those matters in which the group must do the best it can and then trust in the Holy Ghost. But as soon as the opportunity occurs, and the demand exists, the responsible authorities in any place should provide special facilities for the training of group-leaders. When Catholic Action is formally instituted, its leaders will be chosen by the authority. In any case, the Leader must himself be prepared to do more than his fellows from the first. He must intensify his spiritual life, he must study, he must be active.
He will preside at meetings. He will make the agenda. He will see that it is kept to, and he will arrange it to provide that necessary continuity between meeting and meeting. He will take counsel with the priest, he will keep record of his members' efforts, of their reading, of their active work, of the relevant changes in their circumstances. And he will practise tact, without bound and without ceasing.
The secretary should be elected at the first meeting.; He will keep records. Elaborated minutes are not essential: but it is essential that tasks set should be recorded and tasks accomplished remembered, and tasks neglected be brought again to mind. He will perform, of course, whatever may normally fall to a secretary to perform; but the group should not permit itself to be entangled and to waste its time in matters of petty business. The officers are appointed to deal with these. The group meets for better purposes.
The secretary may act as treasurer if the treasury is light: but as the group develops, it will certainly incur some expenses which may usefully be supervised by an appointed officer. And there was a purse-keeper amongst the twelve, even though he is a warning and not an example. For the purse-keeper perhaps there had better be special prayers.
Unless there is an adequate Catholic library at hand, a librarian will soon be required. Books are essential to the studies of the group, and so are Catholic papers. Catholic books are now no great problem. Almost all the books which the group need require are available in cheap editions. The first task of the librarian should be to investigate the Catholic publishers' lists and the Catholic libraries and book-services. He should obtain lists from the various organisations that publish Catholic pamphlets. If his own knowledge of these matters is limited, he should, with the Leader, consult the priest.
There can be no financial excuse for lack of reading. If books, even in their cheap editions, are beyond the members' purses, there are hundred and probably thousands of admirable pamphlets available. The group must make its selections and purchase them. It must then read them. The librarian will keep a proper record of the circulation of books and pamphlets and papers and see to their timely returns. He had better keep a catalogue, both, under title and author of all his books and pamphlets, from the start.
The actual books and pamphlets required can only be decided when the studies of the group are determined, though provision should always be made for general background reading. It can be taken for granted that every group will need some good works of apologetics and of history. At the first meeting, the Leader should make some attempt to discover what useful books his people have read. He should keep record of them and of all their subsequent reading.
The word study is inclined to alarm a good many people.
One can only insist that study is essential. If A is to be of use in Catholic Action, he must know the Catholic religion. He must be able to answer, sensibly and clearly, for the Faith that is in him. At the beginnings of a group, the Leader should enquire (perhaps in the role of an earnest unbeliever) of his members why they believe that Christ was God. If they do not know, then obviously here is a matter for urgent study.
Adults who, in our modern world, have seldom occasion to use actively their minds outside some little narrow job of daily work are often slow to acquire or to re-acquire a habit of serious reading. The Leader must be patient. And they must be persistent. They will be rewarded. After the first, rusty, uneasy creaks, it is usually very good fun to use one's mind.
But studies should be related to action, to the real needs of the members' lives. Studies become tedious when they are felt to be sterile. So, a first and constant subject of examination should be the environment in which the members live and work and have their worldly being and of the possibilities of the apostolate in that environment. They should be taught to objectify themselves and their situation. The method here is the method, unquestionably, though perhaps with some adaptations, of the Jocist Enquiry. To observe, to judge, to act: these are the processes of effective work. One may observe such-and-such a person, for instance, to see whether he would make a useful member of the group; one judges, from one's observation, whether he would or not; if one judges that he would, one then proceeds to action. Action designed to draw him in.
The group should observe conditions about it; conditions in the place of work, in the parish, in the town or city. Its apostolate is in the world about it, the little world where its members daily mix and move. It must understand, then, that world. As it is understood more and more, its special needs and deficiencies are realised: the courses of action begin to suggest themselves: and the courses of action suggest the courses of study. The studies which will be required for a successful apostolate in a student milieu are not likely to be identical with the studies required for a workers' milieu. All Catholics require a firm foundation of Catholic knowledge, a clear grasp of the great dogmas, some accurate knowledge of the Church's history in the world. But, built on that, will be specialised studies; the Catholic doctor or the Catholic nurse need to specialise their Catholic knowledge as they have specialised professional knowledge: and so, in some measure, with every vocation. There are actually two fields of study: the world in which we live and in which we must find our apostolate, and the principles which we are to apply and express in that world.
In its action, the group should act, as far as that is possible, together. Often, of course, a task must fall to the individual. But better if it can be shared by two or three or more, not merely because more human energy is being brought to it, but because there is a great strength in the mere sense of acting together. We are enlarged by fellowship. The strength of two individuals is more than doubled when they can act together. In the factory or the office, two members of the same group should form, as it were, a little sub-group, what the Jocists call an Active Service Unit. A militant member of a group should attach to himself less militant members that they may be strengthened by his strength. And all should constantly seek for others whom they may attach, draw in to their fellowship. That is the way of growth, by the personal action of men on men.
It is good, too, if the group will occasionally find its amusement in common. Its whole life, indeed, should be as far as possible integrated. The notion may be distasteful to rank individualists, but the group is to be a little fighting unit in the cause of Christ, and it must learn to see itself as such, and to subdue its individual interests, in sufficient measure, to its common cause.
There are all these elements to remember then in the life of the group:
It must pray together and at frequent intervals receive Holy Communion together.
It must study its milieu, its environment, the field of its apostolate.
It must acquire the knowledge necessary to its apostolate.
Its knowledge must inform its action. Its study of its milieu must prompt and guide its action.
Its action must, as far as that is practicable, be action in common, either action of the whole group or of some two or more of its members.
Its life of prayer, of study, of action, must possess continuity.
Bearing all this in mind then, let us rough out agenda for the opening meetings.
It will begin, of course, with prayers: the Our Father, the Creed, and perhaps the Prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas before Study. Prayers should, one believes, be said together, clearly, slowly, with deliberation.
The Leader will be appointed, either by the nomination of the parish priest, or his representative, or, if the priest approves, by election.
The other officers will be appointed.
The Leader and each member of the group will take out his notebook and write in it the names, the addresses, and the telephone numbers of each member of the group.
The Secretary will prepare a roll and mark it. The roll should always be accurately kept.
This may be called the preliminary business of the meeting. It attends now to its spiritual life.
A day should be arranged when the group, as a whole, may receive Holy Communion. It is possible that the group, if the people live at distances from one another, may find some difficulty in assembling together for Holy Communion, but every effort should be made to do so at least several times a year: and at other times, the members may arrange to receive Holy Communion in their own churches on the same day.
It will be well, too, if the members can at times attend other devotions, Benediction and Vespers, together.
The group should now consider the matter of a patron Saint for itself. The Saints should be reviewed, so to speak, and there need not be an immediate decision. The group might well consider several, and study their lives; and members might be instructed to prepare the arguments for this or that Saint as the patron of the group.
Consideration should be given, here or a little later in the life of the group, to the possibility of a joint retreat. Retreat-Houses are now many, and a retreat may be made in a short week-end; or the priest may agree, if that is not possible, to conduct a one-day retreat in his church.
The group should now make some arrangement to hear a competent account of the Doctrine of the Mystical Body. It now passes to the consideration of its studies. It has come together to prepare itself for Catholic Action. Does it understand what Catholic Action is? The answer will almost certainly imply a need to find out. The group may arrange for a competent exposition. It should instruct the Librarian to purchase Civardi's Manual. But, as Civardi may be somewhat stiff and slow going at first, and as the group will need the main principles immediately, it should acquire also one or other of the pamphlets on Catholic Action, and certainly that of His Eminence Cardinal Pizzardo. It will now attend to the world in which it finds itself. It may well begin by each member giving some account of himself: of his occupation, of his available leisure, of his range of interests.
The group should then consider any likely recruit who may be suggested. If it agrees that he would be a useful addition to the strength, it should consider how best to approach and persuade him, and it should settle which members are to make the approach.
The group should consider the organisation of its diocese or parish. What organisations are there, what instruments, which may be useful to the group? Is there a Catholic library? Are there circles similar to this circle with which some affiliation may be established? Are there societies which can assist or be assisted?
How many Catholics are there in the diocese?
How many Catholics are there in the parish? How many attend Mass regularly and how many make their Easter duties? Is there someone known to the group who neglects these matters, and whom the group may hope, sooner or later, to influence? What would be the best approach and who are the best people to make it?
If one hopes to propagate the Faith, one should know it. Does the group know the fundamentals of Faith? The Leader should ask the members, one by one, why and for what reasons they believe that Christ is God. If neither they nor he can answer properly, then he and they must set themselves the task of finding out, for the next meeting. If there are no proper textbooks available, the priest should be plagued. He will have books to lend and reasons to give. But each member should do his own job in this matter. He should make his own notes, and produce them at the meeting.
This raises the general subject of reading. The Leader should ask each member what useful Catholic books he recalls reading. Better, the members should be asked to write out the tides, and the Leader should preserve these lists and have them added to as the group progresses.
From the first list, he will gain considerable information, He will have some sense of his members' mental backgrounds, and of their mental needs, and of their native application and interest, and of what they believe to be a useful Catholic book.
The Librarian should be instructed to compile, from one source and another, a list of useful Catholic books. There will almost certainly be some priest at hand who can assist in this; there are lists published from time to time; there are Catholic librarians who may be discovered and consulted; there is Mr. F. J. Sheed's Ground Plan for Catholic Reading; there are reviews in Catholic periodicals.
But how many of the members read Catholic periodicals regularly, and which do they read? Let the Leader add this to his dossiers. And let the group decide to subscribe to some one or other or several Catholic periodicals which will be useful to it.
This prompts another possible line of action. What Catholic papers are sold in the parish, and how many are sold? Could the group try to encourage and stimulate the sales? How?
And then, turn back and review the meeting. Have people been appointed to do this or that? Do they understand what they have to do? Will they promise to get on with it before the next meeting?
Then, closing prayers.
And then, if it is convenient, supper together and general talk.
The second meeting will at once pick up the lines from the first, and establish continuity.
After prayers, it will consider whatever the Leader, the Secretary or the Librarian may have to report.
Have notes been prepared on Saints who may be appropriately invoked as Patrons of the group? Read them. Discuss them. And if the group settles on the appropriate Patron, invoke his intercession now and at all meetings of the group.
Has some arrangement been made to hear a competent account of the Doctrine of the Mystical Body? If it is to be heard at this meeting, a large part of the time will obviously be taken up with it; and one hopes that a discussion may be continued into other meetings. But no one discussion should be permitted to engross the whole time of any meeting. The Leader should always plan his agenda to provide for the spiritual, the intellectual, and the active elements in the life of the group; and he must learn to keep to his agenda while allowing a sufficient opportunity for any useful discussion.
What has been done about the study of Catholic Action itself? Has a competent talk been arranged? Has Civardi's Manual been acquired? And pamphlets on Catholic Action? If they have, the Leader had better begin to read and to prepare notes on Civardi, while the others read and note the pamphlets. When he presents his digest, they will each then be able to contribute and to comment. All should ultimately have read both Civardi and every useful contribution on Catholic Action which they can acquire.
What has been done about that likely recruit who was mentioned last time? Who was appointed to tackle him? What happened? If there was no success, why? What can be done about him now? Is there some other approach? He can, at least, always be cultivated in a friendly way. (In these approaches, tact is always required. One should not try to rush people, but to gradually engage their interest.)
Has anyone gathered information on the various organisations of the diocese?
Has anyone information about the parish?
What of that casual Catholic who was mentioned last time? Does the parish priest think that the group could be useful there? (It should always be remembered that the spiritual well-being of his Catholics is always in the charge of the parish priest. The layman should not rush in where a priest would most discreetly tread. In matters of this sort, the layman must place himself as a potential instrument at the service and discretion of the priest.)
Who has prepared notes on the Divinity of Christ? (It will be all too frequently found, in these first stages, that people are readier with excuses than with notes. The Leader must set a better example. And while he may refrain from violence, in these early days, he must not surrender to the makers of glib excuse. People must be brought to a serious habit; the confirmed slacker must soon be given his congé.)
What Catholic books and papers have been read since the last meeting? What has the Librarian done to compile his lists?
Here then is something like a rough sketch-plan for the beginnings. The principles to govern the conduct of the group we have already emphasised; study related to action, action ordered and governed by study, prayer as the soul of both. Observe, judge, act.
One theme will constantly suggest another.
In the section of this book which describes the Jocist technique, an account is given of the method of Enquête. It is one's strongly considered opinion that this method, with appropriate modifications to local circumstances, may be used everywhere; and that it is, as a method of preparation for action, remarkably effective.
In the English-speaking world especially, considerable attention must be given to dogma. In our world, the very word has become a term of abuse ("any stick will do to beat a dogma," as Mr. D. B. Wyndham Lewis has remarked) : yet it is precisely the order and coherence of dogmatic teaching which we lamentably lack. We must insist upon the rational element of our Catholic teaching. We must grasp it surely, with accuracy and understanding. We must be prepared, on every apt occasion, to give reasons for the Faith that is in us. And when we know the reasons, it is odd to notice how often the occasions present themselves.
If our English-speaking world remains largely indifferent or hostile to the teachings of Christ and His Church, we must surely agree that it is because of ignorance. The teachings are ignored or they are perverted in the telling. And this is so, surely, because we have been content to let this ignorance persist. We have made little serious effort to proclaim our truth. It is with us that the final responsibility lies.
There is certainly, now, a clear duty for each adult man and woman who is mentally competent. They must reveal Christ's truth in the world. But their action must not be irresponsible. It must be directed and co-ordinated with the action of others. It must be disciplined. A great deal of harm may be done and sometimes is done by irresponsible Catholics whose enthusiasm exceeds their discretion and their instruction; energies must be commanded to a right end, enthusiasm must be ordered by right knowledge.
One is unacquainted with any man who is competent for Catholic Action without initial and earnest preparation. That preparation can best be given, we believe, in such small groups as we have here described and under the general observation and direction of a sympathetic but firm-minded priest.
Unless this preparation is given, the leadership of Catholic Action will be distressingly inadequate and unsure. And it must be preparation of the whole man.
There are no real conclusion! to be drawn from the foregoing chapters, apart from an insistence that movements and organisations have been described to illustrate the forms which Catholic Action may take, and has taken in different countries. It is of the essence of the lay apostolate that it is supple and flexible, in which nothing vivifies more than the spirit and nothing is more deadly than ready-made forms. Catholic Action cannot be taken off the peg; its cut and pattern must be determined by the actual surroundings in which it grows up. This is a point which has been stressed more than once by Pope Pius XI and is in part what is meant by the necessity of a specialised apostolate, for "in practice Catholic Action must adapt itself differently according to the differences of age and sex among its members, and according to the varying conditions of time and place in which they live" (Letter to Cardinal Bertram, 13.11.28).
The apostolate should not come from a priori thinking, it cannot be planned on paper, because it is life. Even the descriptions of the groups which are at work given in earlier chapters are no more like the real thing than a physiological plan is like a human body. But a body adapts itself, and grows, influenced by the surroundings in which it finds itself. So it is with Catholic Action, which is "the reaction of Christian consciences in face of a living milieu". In illustration of this we may cite the Bourse group at Paris, a practical example of an application of the principles outlined in the previous chapter. Here men were faced with the problem of living a Christian life in a milieu which was not Christian: their task was to conquer it; the movement which they have started is to deal with their explicit problem. But for the fishermen on the shores of Brittany there is quite a different situation to be faced, though the answer to it is, like that of the Paris group, Catholic Action.
This means that there will always be a certain unity, a unity in multiplicity, so that Catholic Action will be "a true organic body, composed, therefore, of distinct elements not entering the one into the other, but none the less all of them concurring into one and the same vitality, each intent upon its own functions, yet having as aim that unity of endeavour, of thoughts and of work, without which no real success is possible" (Discourse of Pius XI to the Superior Councils of Italian Catholic Action, 28.6.30). This unity is given by the fact that all are working with the Hierarchy: that which makes one part of Catholic Action is the mandate of the Bishop. Nihil sine Episcopo. This again can be illustrated in practice by the admirable means by which this unity of purpose is achieved in France, through the Council under Mgr. Courbe.
Finally, Catholic Action is not a negative thing. It has not been suddenly conceived by the Pope as a good weapon to combat Communism or Fascism or Capitalism or any other ism. It is positive, and therefore its language is positive, even military; speaking of conquest, those to be overcome, militants, the battle, and the leader. But the leader is Christ, the weapons those which He Himself forged when on earth, the tactics those which He Himself dictated, "I am the Way, I am the Truth, I am the Life". As all are called to live a Christ-life, all are called to do as He did, to go about doing good. The good they are to do is to save the souls of those about them for Christ; to some extent they have the care of those souls, to some extent they are called to the apos- tolate. There can be no question of fixing duties and penalties where everything depends on circumstances, but could there be more solemn words, fitting words with which to conclude, than those of our Holy Father, the Pope, of Catholic Action, "Catholic Action is a function of the pastoral ministry and therefore so bound up with Christian life that whatever assists it or hinders it is a definite assistance or a violation of the rights of the Church and of souls"?