Tag Archives: Lay Faithful

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)

20 years since Pope John Paul’s Christifideles Laici (“Christ’s faithful people)

“Vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and society. Twenty years since Christifideles Laici:

balance and perspectives”.

PC Laity.jpgThe first encounter on February 28th will be particularly dedicated to the “Ecclesiology of Vatican II and Christifideles Laici”, with an introduction by Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Vatican office for the laity, Pontifical Council for the Laity.

“To be Christian lay people, it must often be reminded, is a true and specific vocation. It is a calling. It is also a mission–be it in the Church, within our Christian communities, be it above all in the world. A Christian lay person is evangelical yeast, is the light of the world, the salt of the earth. This is his vocation. (…) To be Christian lay people today, to be coherent Christians, at times requires not little courage, requires going against the tide. Our dicastery tries to encourage and help the laity to live their vocation in a courageous, convincing and persuasive manner.”

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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