MANILA, August 4, 2013—A high-ranking prelate on Saturday urged the Catholic faithful to be active heralds of new evangelization by living the faith they profess and influencing individuals in their respective communities with faith and gospel values.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the laity does not need to become ordained just to proclaim the good news, noting that their being secular plays a vital role in the mission of the Catholic Church to propagate moral and spiritual ideals to its people.
“The plan of God does not intend to make the ordained ministers shoulder the entire mission of the Catholic Church. The lay people have a responsibility to fulfill as well,” Tagle said in his talk during the Magpas or First Saturday Catechesis of Manila archdiocese held at the Cardinal Sin Auditorium of Paco Catholic School.
“The responsibility of priests is to recognize the gifts present in their community, eventually nourishing and developing the laity to be one in communion and salvation,” he added.
Citing the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, Tagle said priests are expected to “promote the dignity of the laity and the role proper to them” to help church ministers carry out their mission in the church and in the world.
Tagle noted that being a laity is a choice to be made by individuals, just like how priests and religious people choose to dedicate their lives to their respective religious endeavors.
“Lay people are baptized individuals who have heeded the call of Christ for them to become who they are. It is not a matter of being unfit for religious service. Christ has called them to become lay persons and they have chosen to heed His call,” he said.
Influencing the workforce
Being secular individuals is the greatest contribution that the laity can give to the church for they penetrate all straits of the society, making evangelization reach a wider scope of people, Tagle noted.
“The spheres of family, labor, business, technology, science, culture, and media, among many others are the primary places where the laity participates. Their mission is to bring back faith back to these places,” he said.
He added that it is not enough for lay individuals to display their religiosity merely by attending masses, noting that they must live the faith they profess in their respective workforces to influence more people.
“This is a mission you have to fulfill at work. Through simple ways of being honest in dealing with others, you become a witness to Christ, thereby transforming your workplace into a kingdom of God,” he said.
Call to politicians
He specifically urged politicians to bring the teachings of Christ to their world so people will no longer judge the country’s political system as an arena tainted by corruption and opportunism.
“If you, politicians, are serious about your being Christian, bring the kingdom of Christ and His gospel there. No one will ever clean your world but yourself,” he said.
Tagle added that since the lay people greatly outnumber those who are ordained, they can reach a wider scope of individuals through bringing their influence to their respective communities.
“One parish is comprised of one parish priest and thousands of parishioners. There are notably more lay individuals who can carry forth the church’s mission simply by penetrating all strata of society with the gospel values,” he said, stressing that the mission of the church is not only fulfilled by ordained ministers.
Formation of the laity
In helping the laity fulfill its mission, Tagle urged priests to help in their formation by developing and equipping them in their mission.
“I hope that before the end of the Year of Faith, more lay people will be trained to become effective heralds of the word. I hope they would be able to relay the message of God in a clear and proper way, adopting a missionary orientation,” he said.
The laity has the right to receive in abundance the spiritual goods of the church, especially the word of God and the sacraments, Tagle said.
According to the cardinal, lay people should express their opinion for the good the church, but they must do it in truth, courage, prudence, reverence, and charity through all the proper channels.
“As pastors recognize and promote the dignity and responsibility of lay people, the laity must then in turn do their proper share in the responsibility of the church in keeping communion in their mission,” he said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)