Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Question About the Laity, Thanks to EPG

We’re becoming awfully bookish here at YIM Catholic: CS Lewis, JD Salinger, DF Wallace. Let’s come back to reality, people! What’s your calling, and mine? More particularly, what are we called to do as Catholic laypeople? This question was raised this week by EPG, an Anglican brother who has been hanging around with us Catholics at YIMC and bringing lots of good questions and answers with him.

Here EPG’s question, in particular, and my preliminary response:

“ . . . the priest must administer the sacraments—no one else can fill that role. So, what I'd like to know is, Are there functions in which laity step in to ‘fill the gaps?’ I think of the men's group that Webster has described so eloquently—not clergy driven . . . ”

Let me broaden EPG’s kernel of a very good question: What are our particular roles and obligations as Catholic laity?

I gather that in the two decades after Vatican II, Katie did not bar the door, and the lunatics took over the asylum—Catholic lay people thinking (some of them) that they were taking over the Church. My revered and beloved pastor, Father Barnes, pointed out in a homily that, no, we do not have an open invitation to take over for the priesthood, but that yes, we do have an obligation: to evangelize.

Is that correct? If so, what does it mean to you? Or do you see a broader role for the laity, male and/or female? How do you fulfill your role—completely, usefully, happily—as a Catholic lay person?

On a personal note, I do different stuff in our parish: lector, serve at the altar, teach CCD. But I have also considered the possibility of becoming a permanent deacon. I thought of this again today, courtesy of a comment from Deacon Scott Dodge, who is a contributor to some very interesting blogs. You can find them all listed here.

And while mulling the diaconate thought over the past months, I have found, quite to my surprise, that this blog, sometimes quite in spite of myself, is fulfilling an evangelical function. And that maybe the Spirit is inviting me to explore this direction, not that one.

Your thoughts? What do you see as the proper role of the laity, and how do you fulfill that role?