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The Role of the Laity
Jesus said to His disciples: Go into all the World and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15 & 16
Pope John Paul II said that the Jubilee of the Year 2000 "Moves each lay Christian to ask fundamental questions: "What have I done with my Baptism?" "How do I answer my vocation?" "What have I done with my Confirmation?" "Have I used the gifts and charisms of the Spirit to bear fruit?" "What is my contribution to the inculturation of the Gospel?" Vatican City March 1st 1999
In his homily, John Paul II said, "To be Christians has never been easy, and it isn't easy today either. To follow Christ means having the courage to make radical choices that often go against the current."
The Pope said that many lay faithful "have understood their own Christian vocation with greater clarity, which, by its very nature, is a vocation to the apostolate." He emphasized that the laity will be missionaries because "contemporary man hears witnesses more easily than teachers. ... [I]f he listens to teachers he does so when they are witnesses."
"The laity will be the missionaries of the third millennium." Novo Millennio Ineunte (January 2001)
Pope Paul VI : " The work of evangelisation is a basic duty of the people of God" (Evangelisation in the Modern World)
Pope John Paul II : "For the disciple of Christ to evangelise is an obligation of love"
Pope John Paul II : "The laity must be urged and helped to play their part in the task of evangelisation and serve in the spirit of the Gospel" (India 1989)
Pope Paul VI : "The person who has been evangelised goes on to evangelise others" (Evangelisation in the Modern World)
Pope John Paul II : "Every parish should intensify prayer in order to evangelise"
General Directory of Catechesis : "Primary proclamation is addressed to non-believers and those living in religious indifference. Its functions are to proclaim the Gospel and to call to conversion… Catechesis distinct from the primary proclamation of the Gospel promotes and matures this initial conversion."
Pope John Paul II : "Evangelisation must touch people's mind and hearts, stir their consciences and engage all their energies" (Japan 90)
Pope Paul VI : " the churches have the task of transposing the essence of the gospel message, without the slightest betrayal of its essential truth, into the language of the people. It loses much of its effectiveness if it does not use their language, their signs, their symbols, if it does not answer the questions they ask and impact their concrete lives." "We must reshape with boldness"(Evangelisation in the Modern World)
Catechism - "Christ's Kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church" (P670).
Pope Paul VI : Evangelisation will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit" (Evangelisation in the Modern World)
Pope John Paul II : "There is a need for us in the fullness, joy and enthusiasm which comes from the Holy Spirit to take on the task which is more urgent than any other; that of making the unfathomable riches of Christ known to our brothers and sisters" (Chile 1989)
"We exhort all evangelisers to pray without ceasing to the Holy Spirit with faith and fervour and let themselves prudently be guided by him in their evangelising activity" (Evangelisation in the Modern World)
Proclaiming the Word: 40. To nourish ourselves with the word in order to be "servants of the word" in the work of evangelization: this is surely a priority for the Church at the dawn of the new millennium. Even in countries evangelized many centuries ago, the reality of a "Christian society" which, amid all the frailties which have always marked human life, measured itself explicitly on Gospel values, is now gone. Today we must courageously face a situation which is becoming increasingly diversified and demanding, in the context of "globalization" and of the consequent new and uncertain mingling of peoples and cultures. Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). This passion will not fail to stir in the Church a new sense of mission, which cannot be left to a group of "specialists" but must involve the responsibility of all the members of the People of God. Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him. A new apostolic outreach is needed, which will be lived as the everyday commitment of Christian communities and groups. This should be done however with the respect due to the different paths of different people and with sensitivity to the diversity of cultures in which the Christian message must be planted, in such a way that the particular values of each people will not be rejected but purified and brought to their fullness. Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte
Jean Danielou - Participation - As the writer observes, Vatican II called on the laity to take a more active part in the liturgy, as in other functions of the body of Christ. Their customary passivity was not consistent with their dignity, nor with their responsibility to participate in the Church's mission.
905. "Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by
EVANGELIZATION, 'that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the
testimony of life.' For lay people, 'this EVANGELIZATION . . .
acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is
accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world.'[LG 35 # 1, #
1072. "'The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church':[SC 9.] it must be preceded by EVANGELIZATION, faith, and conversion. It can then produce its fruits in the lives of the faithful: new life in the Spirit, involvement in the mission of the Church, and service to her unity." To view the context, please visit http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/omit.html#HOPE
The best definition of Evangelism has been produced by the Evangelization 2000 office in Rome and is:
"In countries with ancient Christian roots, and occasionally in the younger Churches as well, entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a 'new evangelization' or a 're-evangelization'".2 New evangelization, therefore, is firstly a maternal reaction of the Church to the weakening of the faith and obscuring of the demands of the Christian moral life in the conscience of her children. Many of the baptized live in a world indifferent to religion. While maintaining a certain faith, these practically live a form of religious and moral indifferentism, alienated from Word and Sacraments which are essential for the Christian life. There are others, although born of Christian parents and baptized, who have never received a foundation in the faith and live in practical atheism. The Church looks on all of these with love and is particularly sensitive to the pressing duty to draw these people to that ecclesial communion where, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, they rediscover Jesus Christ and the Father. Pope John Paul II Plenary Assembly on Priest and 3rd Millennium
"Those who have charge over the Church should judge the genuineness and proper use of these gifts, through their office not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good", the Holy Father said, quoting the Second Vatican, Council, in his Message to the Cardinals and Bishops taking part in a seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in collaboration with the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for Bishops, as a follow-up to last year's "Meeting with Ecclesial Movements and New Communities". The Pope told the Bishops: "Your great responsibility is not to impede the Spirit's gift, but, on the contrary, to make it bear ever greater fruit in service to the entire Christian people". Here is a translation of his Message, which was written in Italian and dated 18 June. John Paul II Seminar
The laity, inasmuch as they are Christians, are involved in carrying out a missionary apostolate. Their specific skills in various human activities are, first of all, an instrument entrusted to them by God to enable "the proclamation of Christ to reach people, mould communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel values to bear in society and culture" (ibid., n. 29). They should be encouraged, then, to put their knowledge actively at the service of the "new frontiers" that are emerging as so many challenges for the Church's saving presence in the world. Trinity Communications Show Research Record
Pope John Paul II
Pope Paul VI