by David Stewart, SJ
Prayer Intention of Pope Francis – The Laity’s Mission in the Church: We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.
A busy, Sunday morning at our North London parish. A request between Masses. “Please give me permission, Father, to do this certain thing (exactly what must remain private) if the church allows it.” Another parishioner, known as a forthright character, chided the questioner: “What do you mean, if the church allows it! The church is all of us.” But far from being ill-tempered, it was a lovely moment. Each felt a different warmth for their church.
We are invited to lift our eyes, our imaginations and our hearts, to something much greater; not as a distant prospect but as a present reality of which we’re already part. At times it’s too great for us to take in. Some of us refuse it because of the inconsistency of those charged with leadership and responsibility. At other times, we suspect we’re not worthy of it; that only the holy are qualified.
The full, active participation and leadership of the laity, sacramentally mandated in baptism, is not a devolved power! At times there can be an erroneous “power-culture” in the church, presenting as clericalism or hierarchicalism, which is at odds with what we’re meant to be, all of us, in response to the One who came not to be served but to serve. So, together, let us pray!