The Rise of the Laity – Part 1

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by Jolene Scherr, Guest Blogger

Times are changing!

So often when we hear these words, there is a negative tone that goes along with it. While this may be true for many areas, there is one area of change that I have been grateful to witness. That area is what I would like to call Lay Monasticism.

St. Bonaventure, in the fourteenth century, prophesied about a ‘contemplative’ church of the future and a new Seraphic Order made of true contemplatives from all religious and monastic communities and every state of life. (JMT – The World is my Cloister) I believe that we are finally seeing that vision take shape in the here and now.

I have always been drawn to the religious life and even discerned the possibility for many years before choosing to be married. The thing that fascinated me the most about this lifestyle was its attentiveness to each moment and the continual disposition of prayer no matter what an individual was doing. Fortunately, this type of lifestyle is available to all states of life.

I don’t think I am alone when I say that for many years, I had the impression that the Lay vocation was second-rate to the religious vocation. The attitude, which is shared by many over the years has hurt the Church greatly. I am not disputing that the Priesthood and Consecrated life aren’t holy vocations, what concerns me is the spiritual mediocrity that the laity seem to settle for (especially since, they make up a majority of the Church body). Although this change had been stirring for years, it was primarily during St. John Paul II pontificate, that we saw what many people have come to refer as the ‘Rise of the Laity.’ In many ways, the laity is ‘stepping up’ where they were never expected to before. With that has come the canonization of many lay men and women who remind us that we too are called to be saints.

The more I read about monasticism, the more I realize how applicable the way of this type of lifestyle is to any vocation. St. Therese’s ‘little way’ of doing things with great love, can be applied to anything from changing dirty diapers, to changing a tire on a car, listening to a child’s long drawn out story, or putting up a with a difficult coworker. As lay people, we are called, to be present to each moment. Just as the hermits don’t leave their cells, we too are called to remain within our ‘cell,’ of the present moment. Within the ‘cell,’ there is a peace free from past regrets and anxious concerns for the future. While prudent preparation is a healthy element  of life, there are times when we seem to lose sight of the fact that it’s God job to hold the world in place. The more faithfully we do the next thing He’s asking us to do in this present moment, the more we are prepared to live the next and the next.

Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things will be added unto you. Remember the birds of the air.

Part 2 – next week

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One thought on “The Rise of the Laity – Part 1

  1. Pingback: The Rise of the Laity – Part 2 | The Broken Tea Cup

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