Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Decline of the Laity

I was reading a Russian Orthodox theologian last night and something struck me...the real crisis in the Church today is that despite Vatican II's call for the laity to once again recognize their mission is that since Vatican II the laity as the leaven of the church has almost disappeared.

Read Raymond Arroyo's new biography Mother Angelica : The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles. Who was the inspiration for the young Rita to eventually become Mother Angelica? It wasn't a priest. It wasn't a nun. It was a lay woman.

Who inspired Thomas Merton? Laypeople.

It is true that the sacramental life of the church is entrusted to the Bishops and priests but the mystical life of the church is open to anyone...in fact even the most primary Sacrament of the church can be celebrated by anyone (in cases of emergency anyone can baptize...male or female, even unbelievers). Some diabolical twist has happened since Vatican II where people who want to lead holy lives have been drawn into doing so in a frustrating environment where they really don't belong and meanwhile the once rich heritage of lay apostolate and holiness has almost disappeared--Russel Shaw wrote an excellent book on this a few years ago entitled Ministry or Apostolate?: What Should the Catholic Laity Be Doing

Do you want to make a difference in the Catholic Church? Then begin by turning to the Triune God and asking him through the merits of his son's passion to send the Holy Spirit into your life and to make you a light that shines before all. Go to mass, pray before the Blessed Sacrament but then take Our Lord with you back home, in your workplace, and in your neighborhood. Make your life a witness.

This Sunday's gospel is about judgment and you'll notice that what we will be judged on has everything to do with how well we recognize Christ in the everyday visitations that have nothing to do with Church but everything to do with bringing "Thy Kindom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."