The Vicar of Christ Speaks

INTRODUCTION: In this "Lay Person's Guide to the Pope's Encyclicals" we catch a synopsis of the Holy Father's wisdom adroitly capsulized by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas, Ph.D. In his Papal Exhortation "Christifideles Laici", the Holy Father exhorts the laity to faithfulness. It is appropriate we follow-up November's pertinent document from the Holy See on Instructions to the Laity and Priests on abuses, by reinforcing the Pope's teachings with this Apostolic Exhortation imparted ten years ago. Now ten years later, after the "ten year period of grace" Our Blessed Mother spoke of to Father Don Stefano Gobbi back in 1988, we revisit this important letter from the supreme pontiff and, through the expert analysis of Dr. Bagiackas his holiness' words will be clearer and more simple to understand and most meaningful in these times when there are so many who, rather than pulling together for God's Will, are pulling apart within the laity. The eminent prelate from New York John Cardinal O'Connor has said of Dr. Bagiackas' work: "These summations will draw the reader closer to knowing God and will encourage broader readership of the writings of this remarkable Pope." BELOW: the thirteenth and final installment of Christifideles Laici: Chapter Five

A Lay Person's Guide to Pope John Paul II's Teaching on the Laity

by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas

To read the entire Apostolic Letter click on Christifideles Laici

thirteenth installment:

CHAPTER FIVE: 19. Formation of the Laity

     The basic goal of formation for lay ministry is to discover one’s vocation and to grow in willingness to live out one’s call. "To be able to discover the actual will of the Lord in our lives always involves the following: a receptive listening to the Word of God and the Church, fervent and constant prayer, recourse to a wise and loving spiritual guide, and a faithful discernment of the gifts and talents given by God, as well as the diverse social and historical situations in which one lives" (p. 149).

      Among the various aspects of lay formation, building one’s spiritual life comes first, with special emphasis on one’s Eucharistic life and participation in the Liturgy. One also needs sound doctrinal formation, and training in the Church’s social teaching.

      Who forms the laity? In the Church, papal teaching is a primary part of formation. Bishops, through media and diocesan programs, also forms individuals. Most formation should occur in the parish for adult laity. In addition, there are many small Church communities which freely arise. These can be powerful centers of formation. Also, the family is a basic context for formation, as are Catholic schools at various levels, from grade schools to universities.

      The Apostolic Exhortation ends with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. She is the greatest lay person, the lay person who is the perfect model and intercessor for the rest of us.

NEXT INSTALLMENT: In commemoration of Holy Week and because of the timing of the document, we will bring you the Vatican's statement on the Holocaust: "We Remember. A Reflection on the Shoah."

Daily CATHOLIC          March 30, 1998