Happy belated Independence Day!
Continuing our look at Lumen Gentium
You might remember last week’s challenge to come with a definition of “laity” within the Church that is not defined through the negative such as “. . . who are not . . .” It is difficult. And though I’ve come across great attempts, this document falters in that respect (if it is, in fact, an undesirable thing.) Paragraph 31 defines “laity” as, “all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church.” This being said, the laity still shares in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly offices of the Church in their “proper and peculiar” (in the very best sense of the term) way to carry on the mission of Christ to the whole world. In other words, the mission of the Church only succeeds if everyone in their particular state of life carries out their unique duties.
A nun before the Blessed Sacrament most of the day, though this is vital, will not complete the entire scope of the mission of the Church. A priest celebrating sacraments and teaching, though he do it 24 hours a day and captivates millions by his homilies will only do so much toward the healing of the nations. The biggest, most complicated, harrowing, and difficult job belongs to those whose share in the mission is to take Christ to where the priests and religious are not and cannot reach. It is, by and large, the laity (by the power of the Holy Spirit) that converts the nations, calls Christians back to Christianity, and causes Jesus’ name to be spoken where otherwise it would not.
As our nations seems to be becoming hostile toward faith, how might we discern what happened? Certainly part of the blame falls on those whose job it is to teach. For a couple of generations, in general, the Church didn’t catechize well in our nation. But there was also a loss of nerve for the entire Body of Christ to speak out when confronted with views contrary to the faith. We have been very polite, listened, and said nothing (or worse, supported ideas) because it was the “loving,” nice thing to do, not necessarily the Good, or truthful thing to do. And now the job is that much more difficult. But we are not excused from it because of its difficulty.