First Day—Paragraph 1 (by Lorenzo Hatch)
Today is our first day in reading the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, which was solemnly promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965.
To begin, I want to define the significance of a “Decree” issued by a Supreme Pontiff. Decretal letters are a most solemn form of proclamation. In recent years, they were used to proclaim the beatification of Servants of God and the canonization of the blessed. Decretal letters are universally accepted that it is an act of the extraordinary Magisterium of the Office of the Holy Father and therefore calls for the assent of faith. However, decretal letters are not usually considered to be part of the legislative documents of the Church.
That being said… Pope Paul VI was very intentional in writing this letter with the authority of a decretal letter… there is something the Holy Father wishes to teach us, to expound upon, and to strengthen our current understanding of the laity. Let us then prayerfully enter into this decree… asking the intercession of Pope Paul VI to give us wisdom in discerning this beautiful text.
Paragraph 1 is the introduction… and as you get to reading more documents, you’ll notice that this paragraph is actually pretty short. He cuts right to the chase and heart of the matter.
He begins with: “To intensify the apostolic activity of the people of God.”
Clearly, the Church has already experienced apostolic activity, the threefold “munera” or “office” of Christ that all the baptized share in, that is: Priest, Prophet, and King… aka… To Sanctify, to Teach, and to Govern. You see, by virtue of your baptism, you share in the Royal Priesthood of Christ… and therefore, your baptism endowed you with certain rights and privileges, but also obligations. These obligations include using your God-given talents to build up the Kingdom by your prayer, by your evangelization, and by your involvement both in civil and ecclesial governing.
It seems that he is noticing perhaps a deficit in this area of the laity and that is why he desires to intensify the apostolic activity of the people of God.
Pope Paul VI is very clear in saying that the laity’s role in the Church is indispensable!
“The apostolate of the Laity derives from their Christian vocation and the Church can never be without it.” We cannot truly BE Church without the laity.
He offers some references to scripture (Acts 11:19-21; 18:26; Rom. 16:1-16; Phil. 4:3.), please look up these verses by using your bibles… use these texts for reflection.
The second paragraph of the introduction is a prophetic indictment:
“Our own times require of the laity no less zeal: in fact, modern conditions demand that their apostolate be broadened and intensified.” “This apostolate becomes more imperative in view of the fact that many areas of human life have become increasingly autonomous… as it should be… BUT it sometimes involves a degree of departure from the ethical and religious order and a serious danger to Christian life.”
You see… Pope Paul VI, who wrote many decrees and encyclicals during his papacy, was seeing just how the world was heavily influencing our Christian way of life… and it was more negative influence than a positive influence.
He also recognizes that there are many places within the world where priests are very few or even deprived of due freedom in conducting their priestly work… the Church could “scarcely exist and function without the activity of the laity.” He isn’t saying that the laity can do the work of the priesthood… no… he saying though that the laity, by virtue of their royal priesthood, can do a lot of the work that is not sacramental and reserved only to the ministerial priesthood.
In the third paragraph of the introduction… he recognizes that this work… is not the work of humans, rather it is of the Holy Spirit who awakens our hearts to the voice of the silent Lord… who makes us conscious of our responsibilities which were endowed at baptism and nurtured by that same spirit at one’s confirmation… to serve Christ and the Church in ALL circumstances.
His last paragraph of the introduction gives us the canonical “weight” or authority of this decree… it is to be regarded as norms when Canon Law is revised… which was revised in 1983.
These are my thoughts … what are yours?
This is me hopefully going to blog each week… I’ve titled it by how many Bulletins we have printed since my arrival… we are now on number 7!!! Its been 45 days since Monday July 08 2013… if you’re nerdy like me that is:
a Monday, 1 month and 13 days from today. Sheesh… where does the time go?
In Seven weeks I:
+Celebrated only 9 Masses in English
+Celebrate a Spanish Mass every day (with the exception of alternating Saturday’s)
+Preach in Spanish for the Sunday Celebration
+ Rocked the Desert
+ Almost 10 funerals
+ 5 15th birthday celebrations
+ 1 Baptism
+ 3 Weddings
+ Countless Confessions
+ Countless Anointing’s/Last Rites
+ Attended a Deanery Meeting
+ Attended an EF Mass and helped distribute Holy Communion
+ Learning the EF Mass
+ Attended a Catholic Charities Board Meeting
+ Called the Police twice
+ Assisting the Pastor on a capital campaign project
+ Preparing several couples of Holy Matrimony
+ Assisting many through the ministry of the marriage tribunal.
+ Had two days off
+ Haven’t killed anybody
During my time off… I went to San Antonio and took a couple of our seminarians out to dinner. Pray for them! It’s a hard road but totally worth it! I still believe that the priesthood is the most amazing vocation EVER and I am way blessed to have been called! Thank you, Jesus!
I also did some chaplaincy work with Bulverde-Spring Branch EMS. I LOVE THAT AGENCY!!!! Such a great Christian place to serve the Lord by assisting those who are sick and injured. And not to mention I get to keep my skills up as a paramedic!
I AM VERY EXCITED about Mass at St. Mary’s School tomorrow!!!! How cool is that????
Today is day two of my assignment here at The Catholic Churches of South Odessa… what a blessing this place is! I have met some of the most incredible people… humble people of great faith… people hungry for the Word and Sacraments… which humbles me as a priest.
The office is getting more “officey,” although I still need to unpack a tremendous (and by tremendous I mean shear ungodly) amount of books.
So far I have booked 4 weddings, a quincy, and the real possibility of a funeral. All of which will be occurring this month.
Talk about being launched into ministry… I’m very thankful for the wonderful training I received and my experience working with canon law as it has been a HUGE help. While seminary didn’t prepare me for everything… it certainly has kept me in the ball park!
Tomorrow, Pastor and I will be going over how we do weddings, funerals, and quincy’s…. good timing too as my first is this weekend!
Tonight we had a staff meeting followed by a Lector/Usher meeting… thank God for all those who volunteer and offer their time and talent in building the Kingdom of God… we thank you all so dearly!
Keep praying for me… Priesthood is so much better than I could have ever dreamed or imagined… so very thankful for having been called to serve in this capacity!
God’s blessings for all of you.
Rev. Fr. Lorenzo Hatch
Catholic Churches of South Odessa
I’m so very excited for the new priests being ordained! It’s always good to see the fruits of ones labor!
…let him recall that he is always seen by God in heaven, that his actions everywhere are in God’s sight and are reported by angels at ever hour.
—Rule of St. Benedict
A good family friend of ours went in Hospice care today. She has been battling cancer a long time right alongside my mom. That’s how we met 2 years ago… At the cancer clinic at Methodist Hospital.
She has been such a joy to us during mom’s treatment and such a pillar during mom’s passing. I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to watch her say goodbye to my mom before she passed. Now I’m going to find it hard to say goodbye to this beautiful soul. I’m not sure how long it will take for the cancer to consume her, but considering how aggressive her cancer is, hopefully not long.
Let us offer prayers for our friend and for all those who will die soon because of cancer. Give strength and comfort to those who are battling cancer now.
I love this woman and I hope she finds comfort in knowing my mom, her friend, will be waiting for her to welcome her into paradise.
That’s the beauty of our faith… Death isn’t the end!