The laity exercises co-responsibility in the Church not by being ‘collaborators of the priests’, but rather as ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting through their concern for the life and mission of the Church. As yeast leavens bread from within, so lay people are called to bring Christ to the world from within; to evangelize it from the inside out.
Thus, being an active Catholic lay person does not mean only involvement in the lay ministries. Unlike the clergy and consecrated men and women, the privileged field of the laity is, in a sense, outside the Church: taking courageous and prophetic stands in the face of the corruption and structures of sin in our present society and imbuing its social, political and economic sectors with Christian values so that it may be transformed from within.
Let us be reminded that the lay vocation is devalued either when clergy and consecrated people act and live like lay people; or when lay people are treated as inferior or by charging them with tasks and characteristics proper to the clergy. Pope Francis warned of a ‘double sin’ of clericalism: one form is when priests clericalise the laity. But another form is when the laity ask to be clericalised!
As Salesians and lay people we collaborate with the Church in fulfilling its mission to evangelise (Mt 28:19-20) especially through our primary missionary task of proclaiming the Gospel to the young. We offer them an opportunity not to ‘have more’ but to ‘be more’ by awakening their consciences through the Gospel.
Living Don Bosco’s missionary spirit means moving from considering lay people as mere collaborators, to partners in mission. By investing in the charismatic formation of our lay mission partners we enrich the local Church with Don Bosco’s charism and build it up.
For reflection and sharing
• How can I foster communion in mission of lay people and Salesians in our EPC?
• How can we strengthen the specific identity of lay people and Salesians in our EPC?