Saturday, September 26, 2015

"What About You?"

(SCB News -- Philadelphia)

“What about you? What are you going to do?”

This was the challenge that Pope Leo XIII put to Katherine Drexel, who would go on to become a saint. They changed her life because these words reminded her that all Christians, by virtue of their baptism, have received a mission. The role of the laity was Pope Francis' theme at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia today. The visit to the City of Brotherly Love marks the final leg of the Pope's visit to America.

During his homily, the Pope said this:
It is significant that those words of the elderly Pope [Leo XIII] were also addressed to a lay woman.  We know that the future of the Church in a rapidly changing society will call, and even now calls, for a much more active engagement on the part of the laity.  The Church in the United States has always devoted immense effort to the work of catechesis and education.  Our challenge today is to build on those solid foundations and to foster a sense of collaboration and shared responsibility in planning for the future of our parishes and institutions.  This does not mean relinquishing the spiritual authority with which we have been entrusted; rather, it means discerning and employing wisely the manifold gifts which the Spirit pours out upon the Church.  In a particular way, it means valuing the immense contribution which women, lay and religious, have made and continue to make, to the life of our communities. 
(SCB News Editorial) It is not unusual for a Pope to speak of a greater role for the laity. However, it is more often observed in rhetoric, rather than practice. The experience of the laity has been a hailstorm from above of unwelcome changes since Vatican II that has not ceased to this day. The Pope was careful to retain the "spiritual authority" of the clergy.

What does this "greater role" mean? It means whatever we are able to make of it. It may mean being the one sound teacher in the RCIA program. It may mean getting on your parish council and speaking up. The Bear wagers others will be encouraged. It may mean respectfully making our views known on unsettled questions. (Or settled questions that have mysteriously become unsettled.)

Above all, the role of the laity includes -- for the sake of our souls and others' -- obedience and humility. A good model for the role of the laity is the Benedictine orare et labore: pray and work. (In fact, the Rule of St. Benedict is valuable for those of us in the world, too.)

Begin our work with prayer, work within the Church in peace, and pray some more.  Don't pray "that those wicked Germans will cease tormenting the bride of Christ," but perhaps more humble, more peaceful, less angry prayers for our family, our neighbors and the welfare of the Holy Father. And the Church, in the proper disposition. Not as one having all the answers, but trusting in God, even if his ways are mysterious. He knows what's going on, and every person will be held accountable without our help.

In other words, "Shine your little Catholic heart out!" (Thanks for reminding the Bear of his other catch phrase, Jane.)

On behalf of SCB News -- the Bear.


  1. There is no doubt that Jesus, as alive today as ever, wants us to empty ourselves for His sake and for others through action and not just correct belief.

    I became a Catholic 6 years ago because it seamlessly tied together three things I felt were essential: Doctrine (as defined by the Church and not individual rock stars such as myself or the millions of others like me with different opinions), Sacraments (which connected our physical reality to the invisible), and Practice (which so often is neglected because it's hard just so long as you get the answer "correct" on the test).

    I have always appreciated Catholic confidence; as if the greatest questions have already been asked and answered. What we frequently forget is that such confidence can lead to neglect if we fail to connect all three in a mutually dependent loop. That is essential to living Faith.

    This very much ties in with your observations of late, with which I tend to agree with. Our Faith is not about winning a debate or scoring political points. It is about living out our faith correctly interiorly and then expressing our beliefs effectively outside.

    Keep up the good work, Bear. Yours is a unique perspective and I appreciate tuning in to your latest rumblings.

    1. Approval by such an obviously intelligent and understanding Catholic means a lot to an old Bear. Thank you. And welcome to the Church. Just remember, things may look bad in our tiny slice of time, but she exists in the centuries to God's timeless eyes, and "as terrible as an army with banners." But I doubt I need to teach you anything.

  2. Good post. Make lemonade out of lemons, as the saying goes.

    1. Confession: recently I prayed during Divine Office "Lord, protect your Church from evil men who would harm her and the sanctity of marriage at the Synod." Okay, true, and even psalm-like, but do I really need to be a Holy Warrior during Divine Office? Is that humble like the publican's prayer, or a little proud, like the Pharisee's? Wouldn't it be better to pray, "Lord, protect and prosper your Church, and enlighten the Synod on the Family with Your Holy Spirit" and let God figure out the details? If you're reading this and haven't read the entire piece from One Peter Five with Screwtape's advice on how Wormwood should use the problems in the Church to ruin his man's soul, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you stop what you're doing and read it right now! It's one of the best things the Bear has read, and fits in perfectly with this blog's recent fine tuning.

  3. Praying that God limits or eliminates planned evils, especially by Church leaders, is a perfectly valid and just intention. It seems that the bear is leaning towards cub-level spiritual pacifism. And don't infer that praying for their conversion is ruled out, no it is recommended so that both sides of the intention are addressed- turning away from evil and turning toward good.

    1. The point was we have our concerns about things going on in the Church that some of us get stirred up about. Is it best to drag a certain attitude of "I know what's going on, God, and I'm going to tell You about it and what You should do?" Or can we spend time with God focused on our own souls, our own relationship with Him, and forget about blogs and comboxes and controversies for own own good? No doubt a saint could do that. A Bear can't. And there is a healthier way to pray about such things when we do so, but Bears don't know these high things. So it is better for him to keep things simple, to not "name names," and let God do whatever is right.


Moderation is On.

Featured Post

Judging Angels Chapter 1 Read by Author

Quick commercial for free, no-strings-attached gift of a professionally produced audio book of Judging Angels, Chapter 1: Last Things, read...