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Monday, 27 July 2015

Sub-Cultures vs. Lay Associations

More and more, I am meeting people who have created sub-cultures which are not healthy. Communities can create sub-cultures, but the demand of communal life and the discipline of a community does not allow spin-offs into cliques or unhealthy, navel-gazing sub-groupings.

The great danger of any community is the inward looking tendencies to make the community the goal of all activities, instead of God. Unless people are growing and changing in a community, the community is missing the mark for its existence.

There are several marks of a healthy community, which would not be merely a sub-culture. And, I refer to Catholic ones, or at least, Christian ones.
  1. The reason for the community is service to God in prayer and good works. 
  2. The foundation is orthodox.
  3. Those who are members are not running away from life, but embrace life in suffering and in worship.
  4. A common method of prayer marks a community.
  5. An outreach must be part of community life, otherwise it becomes to self-centered.
Of course, Christ must be the center, but also serving other people. If any community, even a TLM one, is not reaching out to others for some reason, in some way, the community, it will become selfish and spiritually dead.

One of the marks of an unhealthy community is the lack of real leadership, a flowing in and out of people, instead of commitment, a lack of orthodoxy, either people accepting liberal heresies, or people accepting far-right heretical positions.

One of the problems of some communities is the refusal to deal with sin within the communities. Silence will not solve problems. Prayer and maturity go together. One cannot grow in maturity without prayer, and leadership.

Years ago, I belonged to a healthy community. I know some healthy communities of lay people. They all have mature Catholics leading them and priests giving solid, regular advice. 

To be isolated as a community from the larger world is not a call recognized by the Church. For example, Pious Associations of the Faithful have something to do, as well as prayer.

Here is the Vatican on this point is a selection from a larger document:

The group apostolate is very important also because the apostolate must often be performed by way of common activity both the Church communities and the various spheres. For the associations established for carrying on the apostolate in common sustain their members, form them for the apostolate, and rightly organize and regulate their apostolic work so that much better results can be expected than if each member were to act on his own.

In the present circumstances, it is quite necessary that, in the area of lay activity, the united and organized form of the apostolate be strengthened. In fact, only the pooling of resources is capable of fully achieving all the aims of the modern apostolate and firmly protecting its interests.(3) Here it is important that the apostolate encompass even the common attitudes and social conditions of those for whom it is designed. Otherwise those engaged in the apostolate are often unable to bear up under the pressure of public opinion or of social institutions.

19. There is a great variety of associations in the apostolate.(4) Some set before themselves the broad apostolic purpose of the Church; others aim to evangelize and sanctify in a special way. Some purpose to infuse a Christian spirit into the temporal order; others bear witness to Christ in a special way through works of mercy and charity.

Among these associations, those which promote and encourage closer unity between the concrete life of the members and their faith must be given primary consideration. Associations are not ends unto themselves; rather they should serve the mission of the Church to the world. Their apostolic dynamism depends on their conformity with the goals of the Church as well as on the Christian witness and evangelical spirit of every member and of the whole association.

Now, in view of the progress of social institutions and the the fast- moving pace of modern society, the global nature of the Church's mission requires that apostolic enterprises of Catholics should more and more develop organized forms in the international sphere. Catholic international organizations will more effectively achieve their purpose if the groups comprising them, as well as their members, are more closely united to these international organizations.

Maintaining the proper relationship to Church authorities,(5) the laity have the right to found and control such associations(6) and to join those already existing. Yet the dispersion of efforts must be avoided. This happens when new associations and projects are promoted without a sufficient reason, or if antiquated associations or methods are retained beyond their period of usefulness. Nor is it always fitting to transfer indiscriminately forms of the apostolates that have been used in one nation to other nations.(7)

more found here.... and more later