The Laity Must Not Only Shoot, Hunt, and Entertain, But Must Restore All Things in Christ
religions. Jesus is the pearl of great price.
The laity must "declare," as St. Peter put it in one of his epistles, "the wonderful deeds of him who called you of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Pet. 2:4-10. How could this be otherwise?
The love of Christ certainly urges us on to let others know of the Lord: caritas Christ urget nos. (2 Cor. 5:14). As Pope Benedict XVI stated in his recent Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei (No. 7): "it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today, as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth." (cf. Matt. 28:19)
But if the love of Christ urges us to shout out from the housetops and from the highways of the world, so equally does his beauty compel us not to hide our light under a bushel basket. As Pope Benedict XVI put it in his Inauguration Homily on April 24, 2005: "There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him."
How is a priest ever to bring the Gospel, either by word or deed, to our fellow co-worker at a refinery, packing plant, grocery store, engineering firm, oil company, stockbroker's office, or bank? How will Christ and his Gospel of Life ever find their way into our law, unless Jesus is first found in the chambers of our legislatures, our courts, and in the offices of our executive branch brought there by politicians, lawyers, and judges that are also evangelists?
Is a soul to be lost for want of a priest? While priests, in their manner, share in the prophetic office of Christ, the laity does also, and God, we must remember, is able to raise up evangelists from the stones of the laity as easily as he can raise up children of Abraham (Matt. 3:9). We are then Christ's living stones. (1 Pet. 2:5)
Without doubt, the laity must avoid a clerical model in exercising its calling to spread the Gospel, and thus not succumb to the problem of what has been called the "clericalization of the laity." That, in fact, can only be a temptation on the part of the laity to avoid its calling. It is, in a sense, an implosion, when what is required is an explosion.
As Blessed John Paul II put it in stark terms in speaking to the bishops of the Antilles on May 7, 2002: "In a time of insidious secularization, it could seem strange that the Church insists so much on the secular vocation of the laity. But it is precisely this Gospel witness by the faithful in the world that is the heart of the Church's answer to the malaise of secularization."
St. Josemaría Escrivá, a Monsignor with greater foresight than Monsignor Talbot, put it this way in his Conversations (No. 9): "The layman's specific role in the mission of the Church is precisely that of sanctifying secular reality, the temporal order, the world, ab intra [from within], in an immediate and direct way." An explosion of the Gospel, and not an implosion.
Yet he also warns that it must be done in such a manner as never to lose the intimate tie to Christ's Church. "To concentrate solely on the specific secular mission of the layman and to forget his membership in the Church would be as absurd as to imagine a green branch in full bloom which did not belong to any tree. But to forget what is specific and proper to the layman, or to misunderstand the characteristics of his apostolic tasks and their value to the Church, would be to reduce the flourishing tree of the Church to the monstrous condition of a barren trunk."
No. Neither liberalism nor conservatism is the order of the day for Catholics: instaurationism is. In our modern age, the only real difference between political conservatism and liberalism is the velocity at which our civil and political society is going down the wrong path. There is not enough in our social, civil, and political institutions that we can be satisfied to conserve. The Christian capital that once was there is spent.
Those social, civil, and political institutions must be restored. The order of the day is the same today as it was when Jesus first established that order and the Apostles proclaimed it: we are instaurationists.
It is our charge to work toward establishing or restoring all things in Christ, instaurare omnia in Christo (Eph. 1:10), and the most fundamental part of this charge is to bring others to a one-and-one encounter with the Lord.
Pope Benedict XVI has been insistent regarding this theme. In his inauguration mass, the Pope stated that "the Church as a whole and all her pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance."
The Church as a whole, in need hardly be said, includes the laity.
What is the province of the laity? In a time of insiduous secularization, it is to spread the Gospel, which is the only cure for the malaise that comes with that secularization. Through means of the Gospel, we hope to restore all things in Christ.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: new evangelization, laity, prophetic office, charity, beauty, restoring all things in Christ
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Living Faith News
- The Holy Spirit: Sanctifier and Giver of Life, Love and Truth
- The Paraclete: The Counselor Who Helps Us Fulfill Our Calling
- Pope Francis calls for change within the Church
- Atheists to have their books placed atop Gideon Bibles
- Killer whale with missing fins cared for by its pod family
- C-section leaves mom fighting for life over dreaded flesh-eating virus
- Pope Francis tells world's leaders to abandon 'cult of money'
- Saint Cyril of Alexandria Reminds Us: The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Live a New Kind of Life
- Women, Behold Our Mother
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?