Guidelines on Lay Liturgical Ministries
1. “Christ came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (MT 20:28) On the cross, he showed us the depth of his love by willingly giving himself up so that all of us may be saved. This paschal mystery is lived out in the Church, permeating every aspect of it and manifesting itself in various ways, among them, Ministry. For the when the Lord died on the cross, he passed on His Spirit to us (Jn 19:30) – the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ which incorporates us into Christ to do as he did and empowers us with gifts or charisms to be in service to each other. When charisms are used to serve others, it is apostolate, and when this service is organized, it is ministry.
2. Ministry is a participation in the service of Christ within the context of His Church. For, “we, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them.” (Romans 12:5) As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace. (1 Peter 4:10) He gave gifts to men to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. (Eph 4: 8-12)
3. Christians have received the Spirit who produces these gifts in each one. By the sacraments of initiation, a person is incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ – the Church (1 Cor 12: 13) and receives the Holy Spirit which produces gifts in each one according to his will. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor 12: 4 –7 ) It is this Spirit, received in Baptism, that empowers each Christian to believe, to proclaim the Lordship of Christ (1 Cor 12: 3), to participate in the work of Christ and to serve, that is, to minister.
4. The Church’s liturgy is an action of Jesus Christ, (SC 7) who is the high priest (Heb 3: 1), the one who offered himself as a holy, undefiled, living and perfect sacrifice for his people, (Hebrews 7: 25-27) and is performed by his mystical body, which includes all who have been incorporated into Christ. Thus it is an action of Christ and the Church. The participation of individual Christians to the priestly office of Christ is justified and brought about by Baptism, by which, all Christians have become "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5).
5. This participation is always in the context of communion with Christ in the Church. In this communion, the bishop, who is a successor to the apostles who are vicars of Christ, is the visible sign of our communion to Christ. “The bishop is to be considered as the high priest of his flock, from whom the life in Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and dependent.” It is he who has the power to “assign offices according to [God’s] decree” and thus, he is the dispenser of ministry. The bishop is the regulator of liturgy in the local Church.
As the Bishop’s extension in matters concerning Christian worship and prayer and in accordance with SC 22, the Diocesan Ministry for Liturgical Affairs present these guidelines in order that:
a. through the proper exercise of ministries, the assembly may have a more fruitful experience of liturgical celebrations,
b. the lay liturgical ministers may have a guide in the proper exercise of their ministry, and
c. in the exercise of their ministry, lay liturgical ministers may have a fruitful experience of encountering the God in the liturgy.