Laity, step up to the crease

Is it you? Fr Josh Miechels urges lay men and women to fill the civic, social and political roles that only they can. PHOTO: 123rf.com

The key message of the 2019 Federal election? The laity have the responsibility, and have been gifted by God, to intervene in politics, media and public debate.

We sometimes hear about how lay people ‘need the pastors to give them’ a greater role in the Church. Firstly this is patronising: the laity don’t need the bishops’ help to be ‘introduced’ into the Church – they have that already, by virtue of their baptism, and being created in the image and likeness of the Creator.

And secondly, they, just like the pastors, already have a role to which they have been called by Christ himself. It’s not to be pastors – that is what pastors are for. The Church’s pastors have a very limited role in ecclesial and civic life – to shepherd the Church, keeping her together in questions of faith and morals. That’s basically all we can do.

The laity, by contrast, have a vast, far more influential role: to be in the world, at the coalface, bringing the light of the Gospel into every facet of human life. Where?

Well … the fields of work, repose, family life, politics, media, the sciences, engineering, the arts, healthcare, the economy, sport, education, public service; caring for the materially and spiritually poor; working with, caring for and – if necessary, fraternally correcting and praying for their pastors; and proclaiming the Gospel to those among whom God has placed them – their family, friends, neighbours, fellow parishioners, and work colleagues.

They are meant to do this in order that, by their unity with Christ, He, through them, saves them and brings order to the world. Unlike pastors, many laypeople are also given by God that noble mission to be parents – to raise and educate human beings.

It’s not uncommon to hear Catholics bellyache about politicians, journalists and the quality of civil discourse: often for good reason! What’s uncommon is to hear of Catholics involving themselves in these areas.

If there is one thing that the recent federal election reminds us of, it’s the power of ordinary citizens, and the critical importance to the health of our society – and to its respect of basic human rights – of good politicians, critically-thinking journalists, and informed and numerous participants in civic discourse.

And as the teaching of Christ reminds us, and the rituals of baptism and confirmation make possible, Catholics have really received a lot of insight into what it means to be human, how to experience happiness in this life, and how we can work together better as a society.

As for all its citizens, Australian society expects us to share what insights and lights we have in order to improve the care and conditions of all.

There are obviously countless ways we can do this, too many to catalogue here. But some key ways we can do this are:

1. Be political: Join a political party, association or union. Know your local member. Take time to find out what party policies are. Challenge party policy. Think about having a candidate poster in the yard, or volunteering to support a candidate. While there can be nastiness, politics is not as such a bad thing: it is an essential and generous public service.

2. Know what the Church teaches on different issues, and why she teaches those things. We don’t need to wait for Father or the Catholic school or university to come around and teach us personally. There are things called books, blogs, podcasts, online videos and audiobooks which we can integrate into our rest, ride home from work, etc. In this way the light of Christ can inform our thinking, decision-making and conversations. Christianity is not bad news – it is Good News, and so can only be helpful for our lives personally, and also for our society.

3. Speak in the public square: This doesn’t first of all mean getting on a soap box in the Domain, nor becoming a social media junkie. It means first of all, when the occasions present themselves at our BBQ or workplace, of (with the greatest charity) saying what we really think, and what God really thinks about situations, challenges and issues. It’s true this is not easy to do – and sometimes requires great courage and wisdom. That’s what Christ’s teaching and sacraments are for: they strengthen us and free us to act with integrity all of our life in all situations. Don’t be afraid!

4. Consider a career in journalism or politics (if you are in a position to do so). Politics is a noble profession of public service. Journalism too is a public service: journalists are in a certain sense the civic priests of our society – mediating part of reality to us: that’s why they are called the media. We need good, critically-thinking and courageous politicians and journalists.

5. Finally, of course, pray. How often do we pray for the Prime Minister? For the Opposition Leader? If we don’t present them to God, what do we expect? Pray every day for our political leaders, especially for those who most annoy us. Pray for our society, that the Lord intervenes to solve our problems. And also pray for the good of yourself: time spent in silence with God is time I give to allow God to form my heart, make it like his, with his wisdom and freedom and love. Wise, free and loving citizens are a society’s greatest asset: and time spent with the Lord only accelerates this for us, and only benefits our society.

Fr Miechels is a priest of the Emmanuel Community.

 

With permission. This article first appeared on www.catholicweekly.com.au

‘Beautiful’ 24 Hours for the Lord in Sydney

Worshippers pray in the darkened church of St Francis Xavier, Lurnea, during 24 Hours for the Lord. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Catholics throughout Sydney joined millions of others worldwide for 24 Hours for the Lord held 29-30 March.

More than 20 parishes across all parts of the city including St Joseph’s Como-Oyster Bay in the south, Our Lady of Victories, Horsley Park, St Therese, Denistone and St Mary’s Cathedral kept their doors open and lights on for anyone who wanted to slip in and spend a quiet moment, or a whole hour, with Christ, and also have an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Many parishes include the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening as part of the event.

Begun as an initiative of Pope Francis during Lent in the 2016 Jubilee Year of Mercy, 24 Hours for the Lord has become much-loved space for silence and reflection on the Church’s busy calendar.

Man praying the rosary
Families and people of all ages visited churches across Sydney for the annual 24 hours of Adoration and Reconciliation. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

It means that at least one church, and often dozens, in every diocese around the world is open for 24 consecutive hours while the Blessed Sacrament is unveiled for adoration on the altar and priests prepare to hear confessions.

Related article: Eastfest attracts 800 youth

The theme of the event is inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is found forgiveness.”

At St Mary’s Cathedral hundreds of the faithful made time to join the vigil for a while.

Cathedral dean Fr Don Richardson said that a number of groups spent time in adoration and praying the Liturgy of the Hours, while extended hours were offered for Reconciliation.

Parishioners pray the Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Victories, Horsely Park. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli.

“It is very worthwhile and is another way the cathedral can offer people in the city opportunities for prayer,” he said.

Helen Wagner of the Emmanuel Community which led an hour of music and silence at St Mary’s from 6pm-7pm on the Friday evening said that the confessional was also kept busy.

“It was beautiful, especially to go home and then wake up on Saturday morning and to know that all over the world there were people remaining in adoration of Our Lord,” she said.

Parishioners led prayers at churches across Sydney. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

The Catholic Weekly photographers Giovanni Portelli and Alphonsus Fok crisscrossed the city to cover several parishes during the evening vigil.

Giovanni said the annual event is a “unique pilgrimage” for him and with the aid of satellite navigation “a very 21st century Via Dolorosa”.

“Consistently upon arrival in a parish I’m astonished at the absence of sound during Adoration,” he said.

 

With permission. This article first appeared on www.catholicweekly.com.au

Daughters of the King gather in Lysterfield!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the 27-28 October we held the Emmanuel women’s retreat in Lysterfield, Victoria. The theme was “Daughters of the King- Perhaps this is the moment for which we are created.” (Esther 4:14).  75 beautiful women were present (40 non-Emmanuel) and the talks focused on what being daughters of the king means, obstacles to knowing this and ways to live this out in authentic femininity. Jam packed with silent adoration, confession, joyful meals, Mass, a mercy night and praise, the retreat was evidently a highly fruitful, touching and healing weekend for many. Personally, I received a deeper passion to be a mother and start a family, and really desired for the first time to live deeply my femininity. I also felt encouraged to recognise my gifts and use them in my life, and was generally spiritually refreshed. I’m already looking forward to next year’s retreat!

Phoebe Lawrence

For more photos from this event check out our photo gallery HERE

Laurent Landete appointed as member of dicastery for laity, the family and faith.

On October 6, 2018 the Vatican announced the new members of the dicastery (minister) for laity, the family and faith. Among the members, Pope Francis named Laurent Landete, former consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and former international moderator of the Emmanuel Community.

The Dicastery promotes pastoral ministries and apostolates aimed at supporting families and the defense of human life. It has a strong attention to youth and young adult ministry and marriage. Further the dicastery has the direct responsibility for promoting a reflection on the role of youth and women in the church and for supporting marriage preparation programs and church outreach.

Along with priests, other lay people appointed as members at the same time as Dr Landete were:
Dr. Roberto Fontolan, director of  International Centre of Communion and Liberation, Italy
Dr. Moysés Louro de Azevedo Filho, founder of  Shalom Catholic Community, Brazil
Professor Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Sant’Egidio Community, Italy
Dr. Geneviève Amélie Mathilde Sanze of the General Council of the Focolare Movement, Central Africa
Dr. Manfred Lutz, from the Alexanier Infirmary Hospital of Cologne, Germany
Professor Robert Cheaib, from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Lebanon
Professor Laura Palazzani, lecturer at Libera Università Maria Santissima Assunta, Italy
Professor Helen M. Alvare, lecturer at the George Mason University School of Law, USA
Professor Franco Nembrini, author of educational programmes for young people, Italy
Dr. Javier Borrego Borrego, state attorney at the Court of Auditors of Madrid, Spain
Piotr and Aleksandra Brzemia Bonarek, lecturers in Krakow, Poland
Daniel and Shelley Ee, heads of the International Ecclesial Team of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement, Singapore
Luis Jensen and Pilar Escudero de Jensen of the Institute of Schoenstatt Families, Chile