The Mission of the Lay Faithful

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 897-913:

  • The lay faithful are distinguished from the clergy, or those consecrated in religious life, by their mission to advance the Gospel in the midst of the world.
  • Each and every human activity is subject to God’s dominion; as laity, we are involved in all of the various aspects of contemporary life, and so are called to influence society and culture in a Christian direction.
  • Lay participation is vital to shaping political and economic life in accordance with the Gospel; by working for just laws, we do not “impose” ourselves on others, but rather promote the common good of all, including non-believers.
  • It is not only our right, but our duty, to communicate our faith in the public square; it is not simply a task that we volunteer for, but a responsibility that flows from the fullness of Christian life.
  • The Lord equips us for our mission through the sacraments; by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, we participate in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and kingly office.
  • Our participation in the priestly office means that we are empowered to offer our spiritual sacrifices – prayers and works – and to offer ourselves to the Father during the celebration of the Eucharist; through these acts of worship, we consecrate the world to God.
  • This is different in its very essence from the ministerial priesthood, which is conformed to Christ in a special way through Holy Orders and empowered to celebrate the sacraments.
  • We participate in the prophetic office by our witness of faith in daily life; often we do so through the power of example, but when the opportunity arises, we should also speak up for the truth of Christ.
  • The kingly office is characterized by self-mastery: we are to rule over ourselves by overcoming sin and striving for holiness; in this way we are strengthened to carry out our mission to be “leaven in the world.”
  • While our sharing in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office primarily involves our life in the world, it also has an application in the life of the Church, so that the lay faithful may exercise stewardship in appropriate ways.

Live Your Faith

Because of the dignity and importance of our mission as lay faithful, our faith cannot be reduced to merely personal belief, a piety that is hidden and private.

To fulfill the charge that Christ gives us, our faith must necessarily take the form of public witness, in whatever way that is possible in our own life circumstances.

If we understand this responsibility, we cannot be “personally opposed” to intrinsic evil (e.g., abortion), but supportive of it as public policy.