You’ve probably noticed that at every stage of life you played a different function or varied your opinions. Being a part of the Church family isn’t any different. In fact, if you’ve actively participated in developing your Faith, your image and understanding of reciprocity with God and Church have broadened and developed. We are all invited to evangelize, knowing every stage will have a nuanced response. Let’s explore.
Infants and children “are the eloquent symbol and exalted image of those moral and spiritual conditions that are essential for entering the Kingdom of God,” specifically serving as reminders of God’s tender gifts of love and mercy. They offer the domestic Church (your family and home) a means of sanctification through displays of openness and trust.
Youth, experiencing a charged period of growth during adolescence, are considered the Church’s hope. They are at a stage of life when friendship, solidarity, alliance to causes and justice are so important. This is a crucial time to engage their energies in mutual dialogue and formative service.
Elders gift ministry with wisdom. They serve to witness faith traditions, share life lessons, and often become charity workers as volunteers. By living their life fully and deeply, elders come to know the Lord on a more intimate level. They generally reflect a peaceful acceptance in regard to life, despite growing physical limitations, thereby honoring everyone’s gift of free will.
Looking at theological and anthropological foundations for women and men in ministry, “It is clear, from the words and attitude of Christ, that no discriminations exist on the level of an individual’s relation to Christ.” Men and women have an important part in ministry, despite women being ineligible for holy orders, “a practice the Church has always found in the expressed will of Christ … in the area of function, not dignity and holiness.” God entrusted two great tasks specific to women: conjugal life/motherhood and the moral dimension of culture.
Stressing the importance of everyone working together, the family is where “diverse forms of life and love are seen and communicated: conjugal, paternal, maternal, filial, and familial.” A healthy family builds the Kingdom of God through everyday realities, re-emphasizing how the lay faithful actively minister in the secular world.
Finally, those who are sick and suffering provide a means for evangelizing by uniting their suffering to the passion of Christ. Their circumstances form a path for pastoral action, showing the Church’s loving action with opportunities to work and volunteer in health institutions.
Each person, regardless of age, health or social status works in the same vineyard and is part of the same vine. To paraphrase paragraph 55 of Christifideles Laici, the one body of Christ, built up through the power of the Spirit, finds its significance not just in grace and holiness, but in the state of life that characterizes each of its members, regardless of age.
Rose Robertson is a writer and certified spiritual director. She holds a master’s degree in pastoral ministry.
For the complete document, visit diolc.org/LayFaithful or Google search Christifideles Laici.