By Fr. Steve Kanonik, Pastor
Last week in my article I had written about the 1988 document Christifideles Laici. This was an exhortation written by Pope John Paul II. It was his follow-up to the 1987 synod of bishops. That synod took place during the whole month of October, and it gathered lay people from around the world to discuss with the bishops the role of lay leadership in the Church. That synod followed the lead of Vatican II, which had occurred 20 years earlier, in encouraging the need for active lay participation. It encouraged people to understand and appreciate their dignity and call to be missionaries for Christ.
In the Introduction the Pope uses the Gospel story of the vineyard owner who asks laborers to go into his vineyards to work. All of us are those laborers of course, and the vineyard is the whole world, “which is to be transformed according to the plan of God in view of the final coming of the Kingdom of God”
The pope recalls Vatican II as a call to all of us to work together to build the Kingdom. He says: “The Council, in particular, with its rich doctrinal, spiritual and pastoral patrimony, has written as never before on the nature, dignity, spirituality, mission and responsibility of the lay faithful”
He encourages us to remember that the work we do is extremely important. He goes on to use the scriptural reminder that we are “salt and light” for the world. The pope then points out that this is to encompass the actual events in our world and writes extensively on ways the faithful can be salt and light. He points out several areas in our world in particular. In sections he addresses areas such as “Secularism and the need for religion”, “The violations of the dignity of all human persons”, and “conflict and peace”. He invites us to be signs that “Jesus Christ is the hope for all humanity”. It is interesting that all the things that the pope pointed to remain important issues in our world even today.
Pope John Paul II then brings this powerful introduction to a close with this statement:
“The lay faithful have an essential and irreplaceable role in this announcement and in this testimony: through them the Church of Christ is made present in the various sectors of the world, as a sign and source of hope and of love."
One way you can continue to consider the importance of the role we play as members of the Body of Christ is by joining in our discussions of the book “Divine Renovation”. We meet in Beaven Hall on the second Tuesdays of each month. If you would like to see where we are in our discussions please click the link on our website for “Divine Renovation” and you will see the notes for our meetings so far. To join in, just talk to myself or any of the pastoral staff and we can get you the book and discussion guide.
I will continue to write about the exhortation, Christifideles Laici, in my upcoming articles, but if you wish to read the full document, you can search for it online and easily access it.