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Tending the vine – Lay
Lay women consecrated to Christ, in service for the world
“Just a lay person”?
Just a member of the Body of Christ?
Just priestly, prophetic, and royal?
Just a sharer in the mission of Christ?
Just the light of the world?
The Second Vatican Council put it this way:
“These faithful [the laity] are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (Lumen Gentium 31).
“Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all [people] of each epoch and in every land” (Lumen Gentium 33).
Paola Bignardi, addressing the 2010 international conference of Companies of St. Ursula, described the sacredness of the lay Christian’s vocation:
“Life in all its dimensions, and human history... are for the Christian the place of one’s encounter with God: work is not simply the place of necessity, but the noble experience with which a person collaborates in God’s creation, which continues in our time; political involvement is the contribution that each one gives, on the basis of one’s competence and knowledge, to construct the human city; the family is the experience through which love of man and woman continues to speak of God’s love and to show its fecundity; education helps to enable new generations to discover and develop the gift of being human....”
Angela Merici, a lay woman, gathered other lay women into a spiritual companionship. Experience had taught her the value of their lives and their role in the Church and in their society.
She shared the ordinary daily tasks typical for women at the time: laundry, baking, carrying water. Many people sought her out for spiritual guidance. It was not her work but her presence that so brightly radiated God’s love that, as her friend Gabriele Cozzano later wrote, she “gave light to all the others…Her words were ardent, powerful, and gentle, and spoken with so much grace that all were compelled to say, ‘God is here.’”
Reflecting Angela’s thinking, Cozzano reminded the first Ursulines that Jesus himself was a lay person, as were his mother Mary and his friend Martha.
Angela took it for granted that her “daughters,” all lay women in ordinary circumstances, could live a calling that she described as “sacred.” As their own intimacy with Christ deepens, they recognize God’s presence more fully and share God’s love more generously.
REFLECTING and DOING
1) Think about Jesus and Mary as lay persons, at work and at home, amid family and friends. Catalogue aspects of your daily life that were probably also a part of their lives.
2) As a baptized lay person, you are royal, i.e., a person of immense dignity. Choose some aspect of your ordinary life, and experience its connection with the best that you are or aspire to be.
3) As a baptized lay person, you are priestly. During Mass, speak the prayers and responses and make the gestures in full awareness that the Eucharist is a prayer that you are offering along with Christ and his mystical body, not an event that you are attending.
4) As a baptized lay person, you are prophetic, called to speak God’s truth. If there is an area of your life where this has been difficult, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to fuller truth.
5) Learn something about one of the following laypeople whose holiness has been formally recognized by the Church: Saint Thomas More, St. Monica, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, Saint Gianna Molla, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Saint Juan Diego, Saints Isidore the Farmer and Maria Torribia, Saint Margaret Clitherow.
Saints Isidore and Maria
Venerable Pierre Toussaint
Saint Margaret Clitherow
6) Who is some lay friend, acquaintance, or family member who has given you a clearer awareness of God?
1) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly father” (Matthew 5:14-16).
2) Read the Book of Ruth to see how two ordinary women coped with challenges and became part of God’s plan for the people of Israel.
3) In Acts 2:1-4, recognize how the Spirit descended on all the disciples (about 120, not just the Twelve), enabling them to speak in different languages, proclaiming the Good News.
4) John 4:28-30, 39-42. The Samaritan woman is one of the first to proclaim faith in Jesus Christ. She tells of her encounter; from her message, her fellow townspeople arrive at their own encounter with him and also come to faith. Her mission is also yours to carry out as an apostle of Jesus Christ, carrying his Good News. You may do it by words, by actions, and/or by your loving presence
5) Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
6) “The kingdom of heaven is among you [some translations say within you]” (Luke 17:20-21). It is not “here” nor “there,” Jesus says, but in the midst of us.
1) Before bedtime, look back over the day and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where God has been present to you that day: a loving encounter, an inspiring word or thought, an opportunity for creativity, a challenge that led you forward, a failure that showed you the need for repentance or growth, an experience of prayer…. Give thanks.
2) From a prayer of St. Thomas More:
“Give me the grace, Good Lord, to set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on you and not to hang upon the words of men's mouths…. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him.”
3) Jesus, show me your way along the paths of my days
4) Holy God, you send the power of the gospel into the world as an active leaven. Fill with the Spirit of Christ those of us whom you call to live in the midst of this world and its concerns. Help us to build up your eternal kin(g)dom by our work on earth.
5) As a child, maybe you sang “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” Sing it now! If you want to sing along, here’s a link to two renditions:
A youth choir: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCN893hzueQ
- Bruce Springsteen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ6SAryPyQk
6) Give success to the work of our hands, O God, give success to the work of our hands! (Ps 90:17)
7) O God, you have called me to holiness, to share in your divine life. Fill me with a sense of my true dignity as your daughter/son in the world and your ambassador of justice, love and peace. Give me the desire to be worthy of this great calling and the courage to live up to it. Amen.
8) Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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