September 14, 2011
Role of the Laity in the Church
There is a distinct confusion in the Church today as to the role of the laity. In an attempt to bring about “active participation” in the liturgy Vatican II supposedly called for (the original Latin actually reads “actualparticipation.” ), the Church has become navel-gazing in its mode of operation, forgetting to heed the words of Our Lord to ”[g]o into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15), not to mention the urgency attached to it: “[w]hoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) Here are some some Vatican II quotes on the proper role of the laity, first from Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity):
Chapter 1. The Vocation of the Laity to the Apostolate.
2. The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ… to enable all men to share in His saving redemption… All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate… [The laity] exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel.
Now from the principle document of the Council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium:
10. “…[common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood] differ from one another in essence and not only in degree…”
31. “What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. …They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.”
32. “By divine institution Holy Church is ordered and governed with a wonderful diversity. “For just as in one body we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another. …yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ.”
33. “Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land.”