Vol. 167 No. 26 - June 25 - July 01, 2016
Pope Francis told a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on June 17 that the Church should always value the transformative power of faith-filled laity who are willing to serve the Gospel.
He said, "We need well-formed lay people, animated by a sincere and clear faith, whose life has been touched by the personal and merciful love of Christ Jesus. We need laypeople who take risks, who get their hands dirty, who are not afraid of making mistakes, who go forward. We need laypeople with a vision of the future, not confined to the little things of life."
He added that the Church needs laypeople who "dare to dream." Only then, Pope Francis said, many laypeople would willingly and generously serve the Gospel, if they were involved and valued by pastors and Church institutions.
This is part of all Christians' baptismal vocation, he said. "Baptism makes each one of the lay faithful a missionary disciple of the Lord, salt of the earth, light of the world, and leaven that transforms reality from within," remarked the Pope.
The Second Vatican Council's mandate aimed to encourage the laity to be increasingly involved in the evangelising mission of the Church, Pope Francis said, adding that this is not a "delegation" from the Church's hierarchy. Rather, the lay apostolate is "participation in the salvific mission of the Church" destined by God Himself by virtue of Christians' Baptism and Confirmation.
He said the Church must be aware of being "the house of the Father, where the doors are always wide open to each person, with his or her weary life. "The Church must be "permanently outgoing" and "an evangelising community that knows how to take the initiative without fear, to reach out to others, to seek out those who are distant and to reach out to crossroads, to invite in the excluded." Pope Francis encouraged those present to look to the distant parts of the world and to the many families in difficulty and in need of mercy.
He reflected on the lay associations that have had a long history, as well as the many movements and new communities that have shown great missionary zeal. He said the Pontifical Council for the Laity has observed and assisted these developments, which include an increased role for women in the Church and the institution of World Youth Days. For Pope Francis, World Youth Days are a "providential gesture" from St John Paul II and a tool for evangelisation of young generations.
He reflected on the history of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which was established under Blessed Paul VI more than 50 years ago. It currently is the subject of curial reform efforts and is set to be suppressed, along with the Pontifical Council for the Family, in September, and replaced with a Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.
Nevertheless, he encouraged the pontifical council to "look anew with hope for the future. Much remains to be done, broadening horizons and accepting the new challenges that reality presents to us," the Roman Pontiff said.
He asked the Laity to cultivate authentic personal relationships with everyone, beginning with families, and to offer their availability to participate at all levels of social, cultural and political life, by always setting their sights on the common good.
He assured the Laity of his affectionate remembrance of them and their families and their associations in prayer. He sent to all the participants in the Assembly an Apostolic Blessing, which he extended to all whom they meet in their daily apostolate.
Source: CNA/EWTN News
We are in need of well-formed laypeople, animated by a pure and fresh faith, whose life has been touched by a personal and merciful encounter with the love of Jesus Christ, said Pope Francis, as he addressed participants in the 28th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on the theme "A Dicastery for the Laity: Between History and Future …(June 16-18, 2016).
Given below is the text of the Pope's address to the Laity Council:
I do not want these words to be the "valedictio" to the Dicastery, a taking leave, but that in fact, they are words of gratitude for all the work done.
I receive you on the occasion of your Plenary Assembly. I greet you all cordially and I thank the Cardinal President for his kind words. This meeting of yours has a special character, given that, as I have already been able to announce, your Pontifical Council will take on a new physiognomy. It is the conclusion of an important stage and the opening of a new one for the Dicastery of the Roman Curia, which has supported the life, the maturation and the transformations of the Catholic laity from Vatican Council II to today.
This issue of The Examiner is dedicated to the committed lay leaders of our archdiocese. They work unceasingly in parishes and institutions of our archdiocese – often without due recognition of their (largely voluntary) contribution to making our archdiocese a better place to live in. They fulfil their role as persons 'in the world' (Christifideles Laici) and often act as catalysts for others to give of their time and talent.
On the occasion of Laity Sunday in the Year of Mercy, we salute some of these modern-day heroes; the ones we feature in this issue are only a small cross-section, and yet, you can see the impact they have. We would like to invite more laypersons to collaborate in one or other work of mercy, and together, we can "cross the threshold of excellence" (MV). If you need more information or want to figure how you can fit in, write to OLCM at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My story is a conversion from being selfish to selfless.
Selfish, because I wanted to play football for a corporate team, but was rejected as I was physically disabled. I wished to represent India for the Handicapped Olympics in the 800 metres, but did not have the money to sponsor myself. I passed the test for the J.J. School of Fine Arts, but did not get admitted. I wanted to work on the rigs, shipping industry and hotel industry, but was rejected as being medically unfit.
After all these rejections, I hit rock bottom. I embraced loneliness, depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol. I did not have the courage to forgive my mother who I thought was the cause of all my misery; my father died when I was 17 years old. I thought my mother was not there for me when I needed her the most, as she went to Bahrain to make ends meet. The move my mother made benefited my two elder sisters who went to the Gulf later, and my elder brother who took a job on a ship. These seven odd years were the worst years of my life - living alone, still in my teens.
The same invitation is extended to those who either perpetrate or participate in corruption. This festering wound is a grave sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance, because it threatens the very foundations of personal and social life. Corruption prevents us from looking to the future with hope, because its tyrannical greed shatters the plans of the weak and tramples upon the poorest of the poor. It is an evil that embeds itself into the actions of everyday life and spreads, causing great public scandal. Corruption is a sinful hardening of the heart that replaces God with the illusion that money is a form of power. … If we want to drive it out from personal and social life, we need prudence, vigilance, loyalty, transparency, together with the courage to denounce any wrongdoing. If it is not combated openly, sooner or later, everyone will become an accomplice to it, and it will end up destroying our very existence. (Misericordiae Vultus 19)
This extract from the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy helped me to connect the Year of Mercy with my work of civic involvement. I have been part of Mahiti Adhikar Manch, a group of RTI users, which has been working for systemic changes that will minimise corruption, especially in the delivery of services.
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do," said Steve Jobs. In this competitive world, it's those who care for nature, for animals and birds, for rights and justice and who stand up for others – these are the ones who are called 'weird'. Any college student will tell you that. Some of these 'weirdos' in Sahar came together and discovered a common passion for environmentalism, social justice and feminism three years ago, and rightly called themselves the 'Green Madcaps'.
What began as regular chatting over vada pav and kokum juice at the 'Adda' – the name we've given Suren Abreu's room – discussing faith, society, theology and our relationship with God, nature, others and ourselves for hours, slowly developed into a group that had freedom to share and unhindered creativity, which is reflected in ideas and solutions that have been highly effective in bringing about change.
An innocuous sounding word that we would often use to call each other turned out into one of the memorable projects conducted by the Good Shepherd Youth Movement (GSYM) in 2014, and one that personally impacted me very much. It was 'life-changing', not only because we were magically turned into missionaries of mercy overnight, but because we came back changed ourselves. It made me realise what it means to be a Christian. This was the 'Buddy Project'.
Fr Joshan Rodrigues, who was our Youth Director that year, wanted the GSYM to engage in a project that would reach out to others in service. So we put our heads together, and came up with a brilliant and inspiring plan. Charity begins at home, they say. Why not start in our own parish with our own people, rather than going to a 'home' for a solitary visit. Why not make it an ongoing project?
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