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 tenth installment of Christifideles Laici: Chapter Three: 13. Evangelization and Renewal of Society and 14. Specifics

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

tenth installment:

Chapter Three: 13. Evangelization and Renewal of Society

     Of course, living a life of good example must always be the foundation of verbal witness to the Gospel. However, in our culture "the hour has come for re-evangelization." Consumerism has taken over our culture. There is indifference to God and spiritual values. Many seem to live as Christians in externals, but there is no connection with their concrete lives, such as Catholics who say that abortion is a sin but are pro-choice. Many Catholics themselves need to be re-evangelized. To witness to the world of today, we must ourselves be re-converted to Christ. For the rebuilding of the Church within, a great catechetical effort is needed. Spiritually renewed laity have a crucial part to play in this effort. At the base of catechesis is the effort of parents to teach their children the faith, a task which the sacrament of Matrimony provides the grace for. We also need to pray that those laity who have the means and the vocation will give their whole lives to missionary work.

14. Specifics of Renewal of Society

     In addition to direct evangelization and catechesis, the Churchís mission involves being a leaven to the world. In this regard, the promotion of the dignity of the person takes first place. This involves promotion the right to life from conception, in every phase of development, and under every condition, including terminal illness. A "culture of death" is threatening to take control of society. Abortion, infanticide, suicide, euthanasia are all on the rise, with the media promotion as heroes the leaders of these movements. Also, with biological science increasing our control of life, a more mature moral approach to bioethics is needed, an approach which does not exist now.

      Other important issues include promoting freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. But most fundamentally, "The lay personís duty to society primarily begins in marriage and the family" (p. 101). The family, which is the basic cell of society, is under attack today as never before. Whole civilizations depend for survival on the quality of family life. "The path to the future passes through the family" (p. 103).

      Other areas that the laity are called to redeem and sanctify are the areas of charitable works, political life, the economic arena, and culture, especially the media.

Next week: Chapter Four: Vocations According to One's Age and the Place of Women