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From the Desk of Fr. John Nickolai

One of my favorite teaching documents given to the Church by a Pope is Christifideles Laici, promulgated by John Paul II in 1988. It’s all about the vocation of the “lay faithful,” that is, all the baptized who are not in holy orders or religious life. I review it every so often, but it came to mind again recently, possibly because I’m concerned that there is a spirit of discouragement at large today. This is only anecdotal, but I’ve heard more than once lately from people struggling with the shapelessness of their days, a kind of aimlessness. The Holy Father’s words in this exhortation can provide, I think, some encouragement. Here are a few passages:

“Incorporated in Jesus Christ, the baptized are united to him and to his sacrifice in the offering they make of themselves and their daily activities . . . For their work, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily labor, their mental and physical relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life if patiently borne — all of these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ . . . Thus as worshipers whose every deed is holy, the lay faithful consecrate the world itself to God.

“They are not called to abandon the position that they have in the world . . . the lay faithful in fact are called by God so that they, led by the spirit of the Gospel, might contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven.

“The eyes of faith behold a wonderful scene: that of a countless number of lay people, both women and men . . . in their daily life and activity, oftentimes far from view and quite unacclaimed by the world, unknown to the world’s great personages but nonetheless looked upon in love by the Father, untiring laborers who work in the Lord’s vineyard . . . these are the humble yet great builders of the Kingdom of God in history.”


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