Tag Archives: lay apostolate

Equipped for Ministry? Each person called by the Lord has work to do

Working in a great parish where it is difficult to get some of the simplest things done due to a labor shortage –that is, people giving their time for service– and getting other ministerial things accomplished for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls, thinking about the ministry of the laity has given me pause to revisit some personal thinking. Baltimore’s Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien wrote about lay ministry in the current edition of The Catholic Review where he acknowledges the great number of people who Christ and the Church in generous ways by living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Archbishop puts his finger on a process, formation. Pay attention to what Pope Benedict has said about parish work.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien

One of the great joys I have experienced in my visits to parishes and schools in our Archdiocese over the past three-plus years has been the witness of so many dedicated lay Catholics who serve the Church in many and diverse ways. 

Much of the work of these lay ministers is visible to us. They share their gifts and talents as music ministers at Mass, making “a joyful noise to the Lord,” and as lectors, ushers and Eucharistic ministers who, Sunday after Sunday, show great care for the liturgy. Catechists minister in our parishes, passing on the faith to Catholics of all ages – from converts to “cradle Catholics” – who are hungry for spiritual nourishment. And the youth ministers of our Archdiocese share their enthusiasm for being Catholic and the Gospel message of God’s love with young people “on fire” for their faith.

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Lay apostolate and lay ministry…know the difference?

Well, apparently the bishops of Scotland haven’t clue on how to answer a simple Master of Divinity question on the difference between the “lay apostolate and lay ministry” either, until today when Pope Benedict let them know a little secret:

Hand in hand with a proper appreciation of the priest’s role is a correct understanding of the specific vocation of the laity. Sometimes a tendency to confuse lay apostolate with lay ministry has led to an inward-looking concept of their ecclesial role. Yet the Second Vatican Council‘s vision is that wherever the lay faithful live out their baptismal vocation – in the family, at home, at work – they are actively participating in the Church’s mission to sanctify the world. A renewed focus on lay apostolate will help to clarify the roles of clergy and laity and so give a strong impetus to the task of evangelizing society.

from Pope Benedict XVI’s Ad Limina Address to the Bishops of Scotland

What is meant by the term “ministry”? John Paul II said, “The language becomes doubtful, confused and hence not helpful for expressing the doctrine of the faith whenever the difference ‘of essence and not merely of degree’ between the baptismal priesthood and the ordained priesthood is in any way obscured.” In another place he said, “Only in virtue of sacred ordination does the word [ministry] obtain that full univocal meaning that tradition has attributed to it. There is an urgent pastoral need to clarify and purify terminology, because behind it there can lurk dangers far more treacherous than one may think. It is a step from current language to conceptualization.”

If you want to know, read the following:

Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici (1988)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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