The mission of the laity in the world

The lay members of Christ’s Faithful People (Christifideles Laici), whose “Vocation and Mission in the Church and in the World Twenty Years after the Second Vatican Council” was the topic of the 1987 Synod of Bishops, are those who form that part of the People of God which might be likened to the labourers in the vineyard mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel.

They used to joke that the role of the laity was “to pray, pay and obey”! In this meditation we use the words of Our Lord in the Last Supper, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium and St John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Christifideles laici to consider the great mission of the lay faithful:

  • The laity have a true vocation, a calling from God to engage in the affairs of the world and order them according to the will of God.
  • The Letter of Diognetus from the early Church describes how Christians are the soul of the world.
  • In order to be effective in their mission, the lay faithful should have a truly lay mentality consisting of seven aspects, including interest in the affairs of the world, a deep interior life, a solid doctrinal formation, an effort to be involved in secular activities and respect for the opinions of others in temporal matters.

Contemplatives in the middle of the world

Mary and Jesus praying

A contemplative person is more patient, peaceful, kind and cheerful. Picture shows the young Jesus praying beside her mother.

 

 

St Josemaria taught that all Christians can be contemplatives in the middle of the world: that they can find God and be aware of his presence in every activity. This is within the reach of all but it requires effort on our part. In this meditation we will consider how:

  • Jesus promised the apostles, and us, that he would be with us always, until the end of the world.
  • God is with us in many different ways.
  • Like St Augustine, we often have to say that God was with us but we were not with him.
  • In order to grow in contemplative life it is important to live well our regular times of prayer and space them out throughout the day.
  • We can intersperse our regular times of prayer with aspirations.
  • A contemplative person is more patient, peaceful, kind and cheerful.

 

Receive Him well

Christ holding Communion host

In Holy Communion we receive our Lord in the species of the host and wine. This is the greatest union we can have with Jesus Christ while on earth.

Many people receive Holy Communion regularly but it is easy to fall into routine in doing so. If we remember Who it is that we are receiving we can receive it better, with the “purity, humility and devotion” with which Our Lady received it, in the words of the Spiritual Communion taught by St Josemaria. In this meditation we use quotations from many saints, especially St Josemaria and St John Vianney, and from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to consider:

  • Holy Communion is the greatest union we can have with Christ on earth
  • It is a promise of heaven, an anticipation of heaven and the means to reach heaven
  • Communion cleanses our soul from venial sins and helps us avoid mortal sins
  • How we can prepare well to receive Communion
  • How we can receive Our Lord with more faith, hope and love
  • How we can give thanks better after receiving Communion
  • Why we should receive Communion as often as we can

Formation in Christ

Christ teaching the apostles

Before the apostles were sent out to evangelize, he spent time in their formation.

 

 

We are called to live out our faith and share it with others, to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. To do this effectively in a society which is increasingly ignorant of and even hostile to Christian values we need formation. In this meditation we consider how:

  • Christ spent time forming the apostles before sending them out to all nations
  • We too are called to go out and help others find God and to make our culture more Christian
  • For this we need  a deep spiritual, doctrinal, human and apostolic formation
  • Pope St John Paul II writes of the need for formation in his Apostolic Exhortation “Christifideles laici
  • We can receive this formation in a variety of ways

A daily plan of spiritual life

vocal prayer and mental prayer

 

Anyone who wants to achieve an important goal has a  plan of daily activities to reach it: the athlete, the student, the business person. Our goal is the most important of all: eternal salvation, heaven. Our happiness here and hereafter depends on it.  In this meditation we consider how:

  • We are called to love God with our whole heart and in order to achieve that we must spend some time with him each day
  • We are called to eternal life with God in heaven, the goal of our whole life
  • Like the student, the athlete, the business person, we need a daily plan of activities to achieve our goal
  • We can dedicate some time each day to such activities as mental prayer, Holy Mass, the Rosary, spiritual reading, reading of the New Testament, the Angelus, morning prayers, the examination of conscience, etc.
  • We can achieve this by having regular times for prayer spread out throughout the day

Love for the Blessed Trinity

We pray to the one God and we sometimes relate to each of the divine Persons individually but how often do we consider the great mystery of the three Persons in one God, the Blessed Trinity? In this meditation we consider:

  • An argument of Fray Luis of Granada on how God communicates his infinite goodness in the Blessed Trinity
  • The indwelling of the three Divine Persons in our soul
  • St Augustine’s search for God outside himself when God was present within him
  • St Elizabeth of the Trinity’s beautiful prayer to the Blessed Trinity
  • St Gregory of Nazianzus’ entrusting of the Profession of Faith to catechumens in Constantinople
  • Simple and practical ways we can be more aware of the Blessed Trinity in our lives

Mary, our hope

When we have exhausted all the human means to solve our problems and we don’t know where else to turn, we can pray to Our Lady, whom we call “our hope” in the Hail, Holy Queen. She is all powerful in her intercession before God and she fills us with confidence when we pray to her. In this meditation we consider how:

  • The apostles, after receiving the mission to go out to all nations, went to pray with Mary
  • Mary shows the power of her intercession at the wedding feast of Cana
  • Mary is our hope for four reasons
  • We pray to her for all our needs, especially the spiritual ones of bringing souls back to God and helping us grow in holiness
  • We can pray too for our other important intentions, including family harmony, financial difficulties, serious illnesses…