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 | By Father Charles Irvin

God gave you gifts – what are you going to do with them?

Lay persons are vitally needed for the work of the Church, not out of pragmatic necessity but rather because the Church might more fully be revealed in its true nature. The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity from the Second Vatican Council put it this way:

The laity derive the right and duty with respect to the apostolate from their union with Christ their Head. Incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body through baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through confirmation, they are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord himself. They should accustom themselves to working in the parish in close union with their priests, bringing to the Church community their own and the world’s problems as well as questions concerning human salvation, all of which should be examined and resolved by common deliberation. As far as possible, the laity ought to collaborate energetically in every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by their local parish.

Each of you reading these words needs to realize that you have God-given talents, passions and interests. Do you think God gave you these gifts just for your own profit? If you do, then think again. Each one of you is a part of God’s plan; each one of you gives honor and glory to God and please his heart if you receive his gifts and then share them with others. What better place to share them than in your own parish, in your own local faith community? Hiding them under a bushel does not please their Giver, nor does it advance his purposes – purposes that require your vitality, insights, and abilities.

Please do not sit back and wait to be asked. False humility is a tool of the devil that leads us into passivity and inaction. Remember, too, that your calling comes from Christ himself. He has plans for you and plans for those will benefit from your efforts. Do not frustrate his plans! To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy’s famous challenge: “Ask not what your parish can do for you – ask what you can do for your parish.”

Another quote from Vatican II: The laity, too, share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own role to play in the mission of the whole People of God in the Church and in the world.

If you do not play your part, then you are saying “no” to God. That will wound God’s heart and will certainly not help you.