A very good place to start preparing yourself for Catholic Action is by reading Msgr. Civardi's classic A Concise Manual of Catholic Action. We publish here a few excerpts, as well as the Table of Contents, in the hope that it may encourage Catholics to read, be inspired and get started with Catholic Action, today!
If the modern world and its apostate nations are more distanced from God today than ever before, and the ongoing struggle to win the world back to Christ by rebuilding the toppled bastions of Christendom appears to be making so little progress, one of the reasons, undoubtedly, is that those who are engaged in the work of restoration neglected to study and diligently apply the program of restoration given to them by the Church, through her Magisterium, in its entirety.
To the great disadvantage of the Catholic cause and great advantage of the organized enemies of Christ and His Church, the men of the restoration — hierarchy, clergy and laity alike — have to a great extent overlooked one of the most important and powerful weapons in the arsenal of the Church Militant — the efficacious dynamic of lay apostleship . . . Catholic Action . . . the Church's own creation which has been given the utmost importance by a succession of Roman Pontiffs in a multiplicity of papal documents, addresses and pronouncements.
If it is true — and many of us in the ranks of the counterrevolution strongly believe it to be so — that the Reign of Christ the King is an idea whose time has come, it is equally true, to use the words of Pius XII, that "Catholic Action is the hope of the Church in restoring the Reign of Christ in the world" (Se a temperare).
That is why Pius XI would write: "Catholic Action must be viewed by the Bishops as a necessary extension of their office; and by the faithful as a sacred duty of Christian life" (Letter to Cardinal Secretary of State, Jan. 24, 1927), and Archbishop Cicognani would write: "To cooperate with such an apostolate is to cooperate, as we should, with Christ Himself, our Redeemer" (Preface to the present work).
In his concise and yet inclusive study, Msgr. Civardi sets before us the nature, aims, scope, strategies and sheer necessity of Catholic Action. He articulates the essential elements which constitute this premier lay apostolate and leaves no doubt in the mind of the reader that Holy Mother Church not only endorses and favors Catholic Action, but makes it a mandate of the highest imperative.
May this book greatly assist the revival of Catholic Action in the United States, and the corresponding re-creation here of a genuinely Catholic Social Order under the supreme and universal moral governance — that is to say, Social Reign — of Christ the King. For as the psalmist so profoundly declares, "The kingdom is the Lord's and He shall have dominion over the nations" (Ps. 21:29).
"Catholic Action . . . is a duty because it is a duty of all the faithful to aid their pastors — parish priests, bishops, the Pope — and to cooperate with them. It is a duty because every Catholic should strive for the reign of Jesus Christ in society. It is a duty because every Christian should love his neighbor as himself, and be interested in his salvation and try to secure it. Can Catholic Action be anything but a duty, when so many are strangers to the Church, are unaware of her doctrine and do not fulfill her precepts?" — Cardinal Pla' y Deniel
"The apostolate of Catholic Action is obligatory upon priests as much as upon the laity, though each enters upon it in a different way." — Pius XI
"Thus prepared, trained and united, the members of Catholic Action will press forward as apostles into every field of society in all directions, wherever there are souls to conquer for Christ, wherever there is a center or meeting-ground of individual or collective life, over which Christ Our Lord must reign." — Pius XII
"Today dikes are broken and evil rushes onward like a torrent which destroys cities and countryside and submerges beneath its unclean and disease-laden waters whole populations .. . To react openly and firmly against such great evils is a primordial duty of . . . Catholic Action." — Pius XII
"Catholic Action must be more than the simple banding together of the Catholic faithful. Its final end is to win back what has been lost and to make new conquests . . . to win back men to Christ and to the Church . . . We want Jesus to reign over the whole world . . . In your thoughts, your aspirations, your works, place the apostolate — the spread of the kingdom of Christ — above everything else . . ." — Pius XII
"The world will either be saved by Catholic Action, well directed and intensely applied, or it will be lost by an atheistic, tyrannical and false bolshevism." — Pius XI
Table of Contents:
- Interior and Exterior Aims
- Supreme and General Aim — The Coming of Christ's Kingdom — Religious Aim — Social Aim — Integral Aim.
- Particular Aims — Cooperation with the Religious Life — Diffusion of Christian Culture — The Christianization of the Family — Defense of the Rights and Liberty of the Church — Cooperation in the Scholastic Field — The Good Press — Public Morality — The Christian Solution of the Social Problem — The Christian Inspiration of the Whole of Social Life.
- Immediate Aim — Formation of Consciences — Religious Formation — Moral Formation — Social Formation — Apostolic Formation.
- Preliminary Notions — The Two Main Divisions of Catholic Action — Catholic Action is an Apostolate — The Generic Idea of Apostolate — The Characteristics of Catholic Action Apostolate.
- A Lay Apostolate — The Church and the Laity — The Lay Militia — Many Called, Few Chosen.
- Auxiliary Apostolate — The Hierarchic Apostolate — Two Apostolates in the Church — Catholic Action is Auxiliary to the Hierarchy — Catholic Action is Mandatory to the Hierarchy — Dignity of Catholic Action.
- An Apostolate of Duty — An Obligatory Apostolate — A Precept of the Church — A Duty of Charity Towards God — A Duty of Charity Towards One's Neighbor — The Teaching of the "Our Father" — An Obligation Arising from Baptism — An Obligation Arising From Confirmation — The Duty of Catholic Action — A Scale of Obligations.
- A Universal Apostolate — Universality of Object — of Means — of Place.
- Organization in General — General Idea of Organization — A Natural Right — A Civil Right — A Christian Right — Its Efficacy and Utility.
- Fundamental Lines of Organization — An Essential Property — Jurisdictional Hierarchy — Central, Diocesan and Parochial Elements — Unitary Form with National Basis.
- Unity and Multiplicity — Coordinated Organs — The Instruments of Coordination — Autonomy of Forces — The Structure of Catholic Action Compared With That of an Army.
- The Utility of this Organizational Form — For the Formation of Members — For the Diffusion of Good — For the Hindrance of Evil.
- Paganized Society — The Effects of Secularism — How Catholic Action Began — Appearance and Reality — Army versus Army — Pontifical Declarations.
- The Insufficiency of the Clergy — The Clergy not Numerous Enough — Expropriation of the Clergy — It Cannot Suffice for the Vastness of the Task — Catholic Action is not a Novelty — New and Old in Catholic Action — Another Objection.
- Nothing Can be Substituted for Catholic Action — Not Other Catholic Associations or Good Works — Not the State — Not State Institutions — Legitimacy of Catholic Action.
- Subordinate Direction — Executive Direction in the Practical Order — Executive Authority.
- Reasons for Lay Direction — No Juridical Disorder Involved — An Easily Avoidable Danger.
- Advantages of Union with the Hierarchy.
- The Role of the Clergy in Catholic Action — Task of Assistant — His Formative Task — Educational Assistant — Guardian Angel — The Soul of the Association.
- The Duty of the Clergy Towards Catholic Action — The Nature of Christ's Priesthood — The Nature of Catholic Action — Argument from Authority — Accusation of Partisanship — Danger of Dissipation.
- The Authority of the Church in Political Matters — Separatist Theory of Liberalism — A Fundamental Distinction — Legitimate Intervention of the Church — The Church and Political Parties.
- The Attitude of Catholic Action Towards Politics and Political Parties — Catholic Action Distinct From Parties — Pontifical Regulations — Superior to Parties — Education for Political Life — Direct Intervention — Religious Action in the Political Field.
- The Conduct of Catholics in the Political Field — Participation in Political Life — Party Membership — Duty of Social Charity — The Duty of Defending and Promoting Religious Interests — The Duty of Union in the Religious and Moral Fields.
- The Ideal — The Church and Social Questions — Aims of Economic-Social Action — The Call of the Holy See.
- Practical Relationships — Relations with the Hierarchy — With Catholic Action — Mutual Cooperation — An Exhortation of Pius XI.
If you are interested in reading and learning more, you can purchase this book from the Catholic Action Resource Center (ca-rc.com).
Why not get a few extra copies to give to your friends !!