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Vatican II’s universal call to ecclesial ministry?
Posted By Eric Sammons On September 28, 2010 @ 7:11 am In Spirituality,The Church | Comments Disabled
Most informed Catholics are by now quite familiar with Vatican II’s insistence on a “universal call to holiness” (Lumen Gentium Chapter 5). By this, the Council Fathers reminded Catholics that each one of us, no matter our vocation, is called to be holy. After all, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, in which he said that we must “be perfect” and that his followers were to be salt and light in this world (Matthew 5), was directed to all the crowds, not just the apostles. This has always been the teaching of the Church, but it had admittedly been forgotten in many parts of the Church in the years before Vatican II.
However, since Vatican II in some quarters of the Church this universal call to holiness has been tinged with a certain clericalism, which believes that the only way to be holy is to do the tasks that clerics traditionally have done or to work directly for the Church. In other words, the path to holiness for the laity is through ecclesial ministry (One bishop even wrote a book about this !). Obviously there is a need for the laity to perform certain tasks for the Church, and our priest shortage has made this even more true in recent years (I am the head of Evangelization at my parish, so I’m clearly not against the entire concept of lay ecclesial ministry).
But a problem arises when parishes push “involvement” as the most important component of a “vibrant” parish and a holy life. In my mind, a “vibrant” parish is one where the lines for Confession are long, the adoration chapel is packed and parishioners are sharing their faith in their everyday lives. None of these activities, you will note, involves lay ecclesial ministry. The fact remains that God does not call most lay people to volunteer for a parish, but He does call every single person to be holy.
What we have forgotten is the second component of the “universal call to holiness”. Not only does “universal” mean all people are called to be holy, but it also means that all honorable walks of life are means of growing in holiness. In other words, no matter what you “do” for a living – be it as a housewife, a garbage collector or the CEO of a large corporation – your work can be used to sanctify your life. One does not need to be a Eucharistic minister or a lector or a parish music minister to be doing “Christian” activities. Every activity – as long as it is moral – can be a means to grow in holiness if it is offered up to God for His glory.
St. Josemaría Escrivá, that great saint of “ordinary” life, like to say that each person has an altar on which they offer sacrifice to the Lord. For the priest, it is the Eucharistic altar. For the lay person, however, it is the work desk, the kitchen counter-top or the workbench: wherever we do our work we offer our “first fruits” to the Lord.
Let us today, and everyday, offer our ordinary tasks and work to the Lord and know that they are the means which God has given us to grow in holiness.
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URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/09/28/vatican-iis-universal-call-to-ecclesial-ministry/
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 One bishop even wrote a book about this: http://www.amazon.com/Forward-Hope-Saying-Ecclesial-Ministry/dp/1594711917/
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