Worth Revisiting: The People of God

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Ever wonder how the winds of change of Vatican II are reflected in the later reform of canon law? Perhaps for the laity, one of the most interesting connections can be found in the highlighted principal of the “People of God” in Lumen Gentium within the fullness of the Church’s life and mission.

From a cursory glance at Vatican II, the understanding that one gains of the “People of God” is a pastoral description of “what it means to belong to the Church and, in particular, how lay Christians are called to ‘be in the world but not of it’ as good citizens of the City of God.’” It does not just denote an individual’s relationship to God but what it is to be brought “together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness” (LG, 9). It is an invitation to be enjoined in a covenantal relationship with God, united in Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit (LG, 9).

This term is inclusive of the entire body of Christ, the laity, religious and holy orders. All through baptism are considered among the ‘faithful’ members of the church, ordained and not, who through their respective vocations and reception of the sacraments seek to participate in the Christ’s mission in the world. (LG, 11) Similarly defined, canon law describes the people of God as those baptized, having been “incorporated in Christ” and “made sharers of the priestly, prophetic, and kingly missions of Christ’ (c. 204 § 1). In their ‘profession of faith and participation in the sacraments through the Church the Christian faithful enjoy full communion with Christ’s church on earth’ (c. 205). Therefore we see that within the community of the people of God there are differing extents to which one’s incorporation is enjoyed.

Following this description of the faithful we are given in Canon 207 the distinction between the ordained sacred minister, also known as “cleric”, and the non-ordained “lay person” (c. 207 § 1). While there are those from both groups who share in their commitment to the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, only the ordained belong to the hierarchical structure of the church (c. 207 § 2). Accordingly, those who profess vows through a religious institution are deemed as religious, whereas members of more secular institutions making sacred bonds are considered laity. Based upon their designation or appointment to an ecclesial office, the non-ordained may be given additional obligations or responsibilities. Each does, however, in this respect contribute to the overall holiness and life of the Church. All Christian faithful, by virtue of the diversity of their gifts are called within their vocation to the “building up of the Body of Christ” (c. 208) and its continual sanctification (c.210).

Lumen Gentium addresses this distinction in noting the ontological difference and degree of commitment between those who serve in the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood. Priests serving in persona Christi , serve Christ and the Church as a whole making “present the Eucharistic sacrifice”, of which the faithful “join in” and are strengthened by. (LG, 10) In receiving and participating in this Eucharistic sacrifice, those belonging to the ministerial and common priesthood “manifest in a concrete way the unity of the People of God”(LG 11, 1).Thus, each group is “interrelated… and each in its own way shares in the one priesthood of Christ”. (LG, 10)

With the decline in vocations to the priesthood in recent years, much discussion has surrounded the increasing participation of the laity within the life of the Church. In light of the above consideration of Canon law 207 and Lumen Gentium, several thoughts emerge. First, we as faithful are continually invited to step forward and participate more fully in the life of the Church. Secondly, for those in lay ecclesial positions, who have chosen to accept more responsibility in the church, we are reminded to call forth the gifts of others as well. Finally, as the people of God we have been given a sacred duty to encourage, through our faithful witness of the Gospel, new vocations to the priesthood. Each of these has been found to be essential in promulgating the faith and participating in a community enlivened by the Gospel.

Reflect:

How might I be called to use my gifts more fully in the life of the Church? Am I also praying for and encouraging vocations both to the priesthood and for an increase in the work of the laity?

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith: Jane & Ellen Knuth

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

Breaking into your ordinary
with the extraordinary …

 

Over the next few weeks, as part of this blog, I will be highlighting a guest from An Engaging Faith. If you have missed any of these shows it will be a perfect opportunity to catch up! 

Radio Interview with Jane and Ellen Knuth

Jane and Ellen Knuth, will be joining us to discuss Love & Salt. Jane has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the last 15 years. She is also an eighth-grade math teacher. Jane and her husband, Dean, live in Portage, Michigan. Ellen recently returned to the USA after 5 years in Japan. Having already been an English teacher, a singer in a rock band, a dairy princess, a MC, and a newspaper columnist, Ellen now works as a university relations manager for a study and intern abroad company. Settled (for now) in Clinton Twp, MI, she travels extensively, writes occasionally, and sings constantly.

An Engaging Faith: August 3rd-7th

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Real Life Radio daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of Life Everlasting: The Mystery and the Promise by Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield (Courtesy Of Pauline Publishing)  Drawing runs 8/4-8/12

Looking at the diversity of the vocation to Priesthood..

Tune in this week with.. Fr. Patrick Longalong, Encore with Fr. Vincent Daily Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield author of Life Everlasting: The Mystery and the Promise  , Fr. Rick Gribble of Stonehill College,  and  Margaret Felice

Photo by Brenda Vano

Monday:Fr. Patrick Longalong, a priest with a special  Apostolate to Filipino Immigrants at  St Francis De Sales Church in Belle Harbor, New York , and a member of the National Association of Filipino Priests having served as Vice President for 3 years and now as Secretary.

Tuesday:Fr. Vincent Daily pastor of the collaborative of St. Angela Merici Parish, Mattapan; St. Gregory Parish, and St. Matthew Parish, Dorchester is here to share a bit about his own vocation and discuss the challenges and joys of priesthood.


*Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield  has needed to needed to reschedule..will keep you posted! In the meantime I am extending the drawing for his book Life Everlasting: The Mystery and the Promise through next Wednesday the 12th. Tune in for a SURPRISE guest! 


Wednesday: Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield , recent author of Life Everlasting: The Mystery and the Promise serves as the Associate General Secretary at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC.  Msgr. Bransfield also serves as an adjunct professor of moral theology on the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies and at the Canon Law School of the Catholic University of America, both located in Washington, D.C. Other books include, Meeting Jesus Christ:Meditations on the Word, 2013, and The Human Person: According to John Paul II, 2011.

Thursday: Fr. Rick Gribble, began teaching at Stonehill College in 1995. He holds a MDiv. and S.T.M from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley in 1988 and a PHD from The Catholic University of America, in 1995.He has written over 30 books on American church history and spirituality including Apostolic Religious Life in America: A Solution to the Crisis, 2011 which we hope to touch upon.

Felice Fridays!: Margaret FeliceBoston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic!