Question 16.How do young people fit into the Church's mission? They are such a powerful force in society today, much more than in the past. What about children? And senior citizens? Do their lives no longer have apostolic possibilities?
ANSWER Young people are not just "objects of pastoral concern," but must be active participants in evangelization and renewal of society. Small children too have a role to play in the sanctification of their parents and the strengthening of their families. Seniors must not let up in efforts at ministry. Old age can be a time of new apostolic endeavors, especially for those who retire and so have more time.
Question 17: What is the place of women in the mission of the Church? Will the Church ever ordain women priests?
ANSWER. Women may not be ordained, according to the clear will of Christ. But the Church should work hard to enhance the role of women in ministries in the Church.
Question 18. Do the sick and suffering have a role to play? John Paul II talks of them so often.
ANSWER.Yes, the suffering of a Christian is a great witness in itself, and witnessing to the Gospel by those who suffer is given great attention.
Question 19. What about the three basic vocations in the Church - laity, clergy, and Religious life (life under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience)? How are they different?
ANSWER.Clergy are ordained, with official powers, while laity are not. Religious take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, while laity do not. The lay "secular character" refers to the laity remaining in their natural environment in life in following Christ's call, while the clergy and religious leave this environment in following their vocations. Viewed as signs, laity represent the importance of the good things of this world in God's plan. Clergy represent the official guarantee of the presence of Christ in the world. Religious, by giving up the good things of this world, represent the Church's living for Heaven, and not for this life.
Question 20. How does one go about being trained for the lay apostolate?
ANSWER. Find a spiritual guide, and look for some group of Catholics who will help out. Ask your parish priest for help. Then begin to follow the guidance that is offered. The rest of the process of formation will fall into place.
Next week: Introduction: 1. The Laity's Obligation to the Apostolate.