Thought of the Day:
Thus the priest, like the bishop, is first a preacher, teacher, catechist, and sanctifier before he is an administrator. Priests are leaders of their parishes, as bishops are of their dioceses. But in a fully embodied Evangelical Catholicism, deacons and other qualified lay members of the Church will handle more and more of the routine business of parish and diocesan administration. The pastors— bishops who are true successors of the apostles, and priests who form a presbyteral college with and under the bishop (as the bishops form an episcopal college with and under the Bishop of Rome, the pope)— have more urgent matters to which they must attend. Yet the lay vocation, as understood by Evangelical Catholicism, is not primarily one of Church management, in which only a small minority of laity will be involved. The lay vocation is evangelism: of the family, the workplace, and the neighborhood, and thus of culture, economics, and politics. As Evangelical Catholicism rejects the clericalism by which the lay members of the Church were simply to pray, pay, and obey (or, as a nineteenth-century aristocratic English variant had it, to hunt, shoot, and entertain), so it rejects a clericalized notion of lay vocation as primarily having to do with working in the parish office or diocesan chancery. 34 There is important work to be done in those venues, and lay Catholics can and ought to do more of it, thus freeing priests and bishops for the work they were ordained to do. But the primary lay vocation, as John Paul II taught in the 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, is to bring the Gospel into all of those parts of “the world” to which the laity has greater access than those who are ordained: the family, the mass media, the business community, the worlds of culture, and the political arena, for example. (1)
I’ve mentioned before that I am sort of reviewing this book – Evangelical Catholic – slowing – digesting the differences between how its author describes the changes manifesting now in Roman Catholicism – and what I see in the present and in the hsotiry of Lutheranism – which was originally called – “evangelical catholic”. Not as a devotional persay, but it ends up being so for me.
Today is no different – as I think about the deacons I train (historically assistants in the college – as they were/are ordained )and about the work of the people here in my church. Wiegel’s point about their having a primary vocation of evangelist is an awesome point – I highly agree – and it is their primary vocation, as they bring the gospel into their homes, into their friends homes, into their workplaces and the conversations they have out there in the not so “real world”.
Some would argue that the proclamation of the gospel is the role of the clergy and indeed it is. But it isn’t only the clergy’s work – it is the work of the family of God – YHWH & Son’s (and daughters!) The pastors and priests (and bishops and deacons ) preachin a way that the laity comprehend the grace of God, which the Holy Spirit actively embodies in every moment of their lives – bringing joy and peace into some of the most challenging situations that they, and those around them, encounter. It is there – that the gospel is shown through their lives, through their loves, through the hope they have – even in the midst of situations that would be considered hopeless. Places that wouldn’t necessarily be a place where my black shirt and collar are welcome.
But that is a harder calling for the priest and pastor, to preach in that way. It is a more demanding way, is a sense from the people who sit in the pews.
It is, and isn’t.
For Evangelism isn’t a duty, it is an act of love. It is realizing that what has brought healing and peace to our broken lives will bring healing and peace to others lives. Such healing and peace – in the midst of such brokenness, that we cannot bear to see those who are broken in such a way continue in it. In love we come to them – to help them with their burdens, to calm their anxious souls, to bring healing to shattered lives and shattered relationships. That means – that most of the time – it is the laity that see it first – that come alongside them – that bear them to us, were we continue the word and sacrament minsitry together.
It’s not the laity or the clergy – it is the people of God – as He has called and equipped and sent us…. to bring His love.
This is a good thing! A very incredible thing! God using us all…. how awesome!
(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 80). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.
- Need Hope? No Answers? Come Experience Jesus, Have Hope! (evangelical catholic VI) (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Will Jesus find us trusting Him? (Evangelical Catholic Evaluation V) (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Evangelical Catholicism Pt IV: Why have churches shrunk? (justifiedandsinner.com)