The Lay Apostolate

Bloch-SermonOnTheMountEvery Christian person, by virtue of their Baptism, is called to participation in the life of the Church. This participation sometimes may take the form of a vocation to the priesthood or to religious life. For those not called in that particular way, we have both the right and the duty to participation in the lay apostolate.

“Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it.” (CCC 900)

The lay apostolate does not mean that lay people should do everything in the Church, and it certainly isn’t a call to do the things that are reserved to a priest. The ministry of the priesthood is a ministry to the baptized faithful; the lay apostolate is a ministry to the greater society. Sometimes the laity’s ministry includes service to their parish, in roles that are appropriate to their state in life. Often, the laity serve in many ways outside of their parish Church, in social ministries. Whatever the particular ministry is, it must always be in conformity with the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.

“Social action can assume various concrete forms. It should always have the common good in view and be in conformity with the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. It is the role of the laity ‘to animate temporal realities with Christian commitment, by which they show that they are witnesses and agents of peace and justice.’ (CCC 2442)

There are many opportunities in your parish for lay people to serve both within the appropriate ministries of the Church, as well as social outreach ministries. Often, you just need to call and find out where help is needed. Are you involved in your parish? One aspect of our baptismal call is that of service, in cooperation with the ministry of the Church. How do you respond to that call?

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