Page 9, 23rd April 2004

23rd April 2004
Page 9
Page 9, 23rd April 2004 — Waking up a slumbering laity

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Waking up a slumbering laity

AS ANY newspaper can testify, we live in a world of bad news and loss of hope. Yet we have good news: that Jesus redeemed us, that he has overcome the world, and that all manner of things will be well. We are so often befuddled by controversy about matters which, by comparison, are trivial that we forget that each one of us is an evangelist — an announcer of good news to the world. So we warmly welcome the Catholic Agency for Evangelisation, which promises to be of great help to us as we proclaim the good news.

Make no mistake. The bishops can give us the lead, the clergy can support and encourage, resources can be provided, but the main agency of evangelisation, under the Holy Spirit, is the body of the laity. It is our responsibility to evangelise ourselves, our family, our workplace, our friends. We do this by being shining examples of Christian living, by our pride in our membership of the Church, by our readiness to explain, humbly and firmly, but not officiously, what we believe and why. Perhaps the decline of the Catholic Evidence Guild (described by Quentin de la Bédoyère on page seven) is a symptom of our apathy. But we cannot delegate evangelisation to a revived Guild, or to any other agency for that matter. It is a responsibility that each of us personally received at baptism. For generations the laity has demanded to be recognised as the body of the Church and not merely as the other ranks who fill the pews. It is now time for it to put its money where its mouth is.

This week Cardinal Danneels has spoken movingly of the evangelisation of the young. We have failed badly in this essential task. But perhaps our greatest fault has been our failure to show young people what the good news means in our own lives. Do we live out for them the belief, in the words of the old Catechism, that God made us “to know him, love him and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next”? Or are too many of us apparently just paid-up members of our secular, materialistic society, who happen to go to Mass on Sunday? How can we ask of the young more than we ask of ourselves?

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