The Noble Duty of the Laity – August 2017

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!

Romans 11:33

 

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans celebrates the wisdom of God’s plan of salvation. Paul indicates throughout his letters that, both Jew and Gentile, despite the religious resistance of each, have received the gift of faith. The methods used by God in making this outreach to the world stagger human comprehension but are at the same time a dazzling invitation to abiding faith.

Like Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Mary and Joseph, and all the saints, you and I are instruments of the Lord.  We have been given the gift of faith and God assists us, through His salvific grace, to make His outreach to the world.  We are all the people of God-laity, religious and clergy alike.  I know, however, that you as laity have a special calling.  Priests were not ordained by Christ to take upon themselves the entire salvific mission of the Church toward the world.  As priests, it is our duty to ‘shepherd the faithful’ and to recognize your ministries and charisms, so that we cooperate in God’s outreach to the world with one mind.

The papal document of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium (the Light of the World), notes that we must all “practice the truth in love, and so grow up in all things in Him who is head, Christ. For from Him the whole body, being closely joined and knit together through every joint of the system, according to the functioning in due measure of each single part, derives its increase to the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15,16).

Upon you, the laity, rests the noble calling of participating in the saving work of the Church.  You are called to consecrate the world itself to God. All your works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, your ordinary married and family life, your daily occupations, your physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne—all these become “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).  You are Christ’s witnesses so that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in your daily social and family life.

Through your faithfulness, you prepare the field of the world for the seed of the Word of God; and at the same time you open wider the doors of the Church by which the message of peace may enter the world.  You must also prepare yourself!  Your formation, then, is ever present.  Your participation in the Sacraments, your life of prayer, your study of Scripture, your participation in social outreach continue to form you for this splendid duty.  Never be satisfied with what you know, always seek God in each moment.  Learn the deepest meaning and the value of all creation, as well as its role in the harmonious praise of God. Assist each other to live holier lives even in your daily occupations. Pope Francis said, “The life of the Church . . . is contagious light.  The more light of Jesus we Christians have, the more light of Jesus there is in the life of the Church, the more alive she is.  The life of the Church is the contagion of light.”

Read documents and listen to speakers to lead you to understand the depth of God’s love so that the seed you plant may be fully nourished.  There are many documents available to us through the gift of technology.  Take care in your discernment that you are not led astray by false teachings.  I suggest you go to the direct source for Pope Francis’ words, www.vatican.va.  The United States Conference of Bishops posts speeches, documents, homilies daily at www.usccb.org.  The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops offers the Florida Catholic Advocacy Network (FLCAN), https://flaccb.org/florida-catholic-advocacy-network, to connect, educate and mobilize Catholics across Florida’ seven dioceses on public policy issues pertaining to life, dignity and the common good.  It offers you the opportunity to stay up-to-date on public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church in Florida and communicate with policymakers.  There are many more resources available to you through the Florida Catholic, the Diocese of Orlando website, orlando.diocesanweb.org, and Faith Fit app, www.befaithfit.org, offered for free in the app stores.

“The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one—that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who obey the voice of the Father and worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. These people follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory. Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity” (Lumen Gentium, 41).

In our daily living, may we bring forth the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.

Bishop Noonan
Diocese of Orlando