All Laity on Deck – Weekly Message for 12-15-15

Dear Friends in Christ,

One of the myths that the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) tried to dispel was that laypeople had a limited role in the Church. That the laity were only meant to attend Mass, contribute to the collection basket, send their kids to Catholic schools, and pretty much leave the rest of the work of the Church to the clergy and religious, was a widely held belief.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Every Christian, because of baptism, is meant to evangelize and bring the Gospel message into the world.

If that notion seemed too idealistic or abstract in the 1960s, it has become an absolute necessity now. One reason is that the relative number of priests has plunged. In 1965, for instance, there was on average two active diocesan priests per parish in the U.S. In 2014 that number was down to one, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

The bottom line: The Church needs the witness and work of lay Catholics as much as ever. Or better said, Christ needs the laity. For laity and clergy and consecrated alike are part of the Church.

What that means in practical terms is that each layperson should give priority to cultivating his spiritual life, through prayer, the sacraments and formative reading, among other practices.

As a contribution to formative reading, RC Spirituality is offering Study Circle Guides on a variety of themes. You are invited to browse them and see where the Spirit is nudging you to go deeper in your understanding of the faith.

I hope you find them helpful. And I pray that you have a fruitful Advent.
God bless,
Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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