Catholic Social Doctrine: The Commitment of the Laity

The essential nature of the laity is their secular identity, that is, their living of the faith in the world. This identity is born and nourished by the sacraments, especially Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, and is renewed by the sacrament of Penance, for by these sacraments God forms the image of his Son, Jesus. The laity share in the three-fold munus (gift/duty) of Christ as priest, prophet and king.

It is proper for the lay person to proclaim the Gospel by the witness of their lives, lives that are rooted in the temporal world. All secular human realities are the context in which the lay Christian lives and works. The witness or the lay person is born from grace. It is to be nurtured and brought to maturity. It is to have its proper spirituality that is immersed in both the mystery of God and inserted in society. It is the duty of the laity to strengthen their spiritual and moral lives.

This life requires prudence, the virtue that allows moral principles to be applied correctly to particular circumstances. This virtue needs to be inculcated in our young so they may be able to navigate that complex realities in today’s world by reflecting, analyzing and judging properly. Prudence makes it possible to make decisions that are consistent and realistic with a sense of responsibility for one’s actions and their consequences.

The Church’s social doctrine must become a part of the ongoing formation of the laity. This is can be accomplished within lay ecclesial associations. These associations gather people together in the name of their Christian vocation and mission within a particular professional or cultural field, such as Catholic associations of doctors, biologists, other sciences, law, social services and others.

The laity bring to society the Christian presence of service which is the sign and expression of love. This service is first and foremost to the human person. This cannot be accomplished without first of all renewing oneself interiorly for it is from a conversion of heart that arises the concern for others. This interior conversion must work at the same time for an improvement of social structures. We see this most evidently in promoting human dignity by affirming the right to life from conception to natural death, the defense of the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, and the defense of marriage and family.

For a more detailed discussion of this, refer to the  Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, nos. 541-553.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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