In this month of October Pope Francis’ prayer intention is for the Laity’s Mission in the World. At the Second Vatican Council one of the most important contributions was the reflection and teaching about the role of the laity both within the Church but also their apostolate or calling in the world.
The Laity’s Mission originates within the Church but is primarily lived out in what we call society or the world. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation we are all incorporated into the Body of Christ and share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ. This is the vocation that is specific to laity and is one that seeks to promote the Kingdom of God through a witness of life and service which can transform society in accordance with God’s will.
In the ordinary circumstances of society and family life the laity will contribute to the sanctification of the world. They can promote and witness to the reign of God by being a leaven in fulfilling the responsibilities and obligation that are specific to their circumstances and role in the broader society. Within the Church the pastors “are joined by a close relationship” to the laity. In both following the example of Christ, and in developing a close collaboration and co-responsibility, they promote the unity of the Body of Christ and become through the Holy Spirit an authentic witness to the mission of Christ in the world. Despite the diversity of graces (gifts) and ministries (works) within the Body of Christ there is a unity that can be realized both in the Church and in service to the world through the one Spirit.
The apostolate of the laity within the world is first and foremost a sharing in the salvific mission of Christ through the Church. The laity have a special vocation to make the Church present and active in the world where they become the “salt and light” in the midst of society. The laity in this unique witness, through spiritual sacrifices of daily life, prayer, good works, family life and community involvement continually draw strength from the Eucharist and the Sacraments. For Catholics, this must be the source of our evangelization which becomes expressed in the proclamation of Christ as a living Word through the testimony of our lives in the ordinary circumstances of life and in the acts of charity that reflect the sacrificial love celebrated and received in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of his Body.
In the Church although there is a diversity of ministries, there must be a unity of mission. This mission of evangelization for the laity is a life lived in the midst of the world and among secular affairs. The apostolate of the laity in the world must have the following supports or foundations if it is to be vibrant and flourishing.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers