Monday, May 17, 2010

Empowerment of the Laity

This growing phenomenon of the Laity’s empowerment came as fruit of Vatican II Council 1962-1965. We began to see the sprouting of the basic ecclesial communities where the laity was given more active voice and participation in liturgy and the proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord and Savior. It could be a normal evolution of what is really innate in the initiating sacrament of baptism when through this very sacrament, we partake of Jesus’ role as priest, prophet and king. “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15).

The recent canonical process for the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) of England only shows the timeliness of the move for increased involvement of the laity, always within the bounds of legitimate discipline allowed by Church Canon Law. Cardinal Newman was espousing such idea much ahead of his time. The treatises of the Apostle Paul, that the Church is one body of Christ clearly confirms how much we need to listen to our lay brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of greater harmony and progress in the Church. “Just as a human body - so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptized, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink” (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13). The Church too recognizes what we call magisterium ordinarium, i.e. the daily usual uniform teachings of the Catholic Church is protected from error by God’s ever abiding Spirit. You will therefore see from historicity that the present fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith are basically the same as those from the very beginning of Christianity. This is the fruit of the combined evangelizing work of both clergy/religious and lay people, and there are prominent saints in all categories and groupings of society. Today too we find zealous and fervent Christians in different social sectors. True indeed: “the spirit blows wherever it pleases” (Jn. 3:8). In the Church, as the one body of Christ, each one has a role to play. Hence, we understand why St. Paul commented” It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church” (Col. 1:24).

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