Week 18, Monday. Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPTS from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

82. In this regard, the Church has many resources at her service. The responses agree that the first resource is the great number of baptized lay people who are engaged in and decisively continue their voluntary service of building up the parish community.
Many responses refer to the flowering of the vocation of the laity as one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council and list other resources, namely, communities of consecrated life; various ecclesial groups and movements which, through their fervour, their energy and, above all, their faith, give a strong impetus to renewal in ecclesial settings; and the many devotional shrine-centres, which, in particular Churches, serve to call people to the faith. (Instrumentum Laboris, “Chapter 2: Time for a New Evangelization,” paragraph 82)

The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 97:1, Mass).

O God, who in the glorious Transfiguration of your Only Begotten Son
confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers
and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship, grant,
we pray, to your servants, that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son,
we may merit to become co-heirs with him.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Given some of the email responses to yesterday’s entry (thank you, but please - please - please use the comment feature so that all can benefit), it is clear that parish vitality and a previously examined topic, the pain caused by family and friends not practicing or leaving the faith, have resonated with a good number of people. To that end, the remaining 3 paragraphs that examine “Parish Life and the New Evangelization” will be treated individually over the course of this week.

Paragraph 82 celebrates “great number of baptized lay people who are engaged in and decisively continue their voluntary service of building up the parish community.” This indeed is wonderful and is recognized as a fruit of the Second Vatican Council. In places where this wondrous fruit is sowing seeds that eventually lead people to salvation, the Church must actively support and express gratitude, truly valuing the gifts of the Spirit operative and generously placed at the service of the Lord and His Kingdom.

Respectively, though, I wonder about the phrase “voluntary service” to describe what are essentially ministries flowing from Baptism. While any ministry requires the “yes” of the minister, ministry is first and foremost a call that one responds “yes” or “no.” Volunteering technically puts the emphasis on “my choice” and not on the reality that one is responding to a call that has been sounded by the Lord and echoed in His Church.

Additionally, the reality of call implies some type of formation for the particular ministry and again, many can testify to laity formed well in and for particular ministries. But there are places where a sound theological and ecclesial formation are lacking. While people may be generous in the gift of time, talent and treasury, the absence of formation means that advice and decision making are often skewed and governed by principles of the secular business world, a nostalgia for a bygone era or simply the always popular, “we’ve always done it that way.” I am certainly not advocating an avoidance of good business practices and reporting that can help us be good stewards but decisions but a way of ministry that clearly does not have the Face of Jesus Christ in focus, will not hasten the coming of the Kingdom.

  • What has been your experience of the various ‘lay ministries’?
  • Are these people ‘volunteers’ or ‘ministers’?

1 comment:

  1. Those in lay ministries are either volunteers, who choose what they will do and when they will do it or ministers, who have been chosen in one way or another (taped on the shoulder) to serve others as and when the others need to be served. The difference lies in a mindset based on choosing or being chosen, doing and serving. What some in ministry fail to understand is that the day we were baptized we were chosen to serve, volunteering is not an option.