Posted by: Thomas Richard | July 1, 2009

Rights and Duties…

This is from the Catholic Code of Canon Law, concerning us – “the faithful” – the lay members of the Church:

Can. 212 §1 Christ’s faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound to show christian obedience to what the sacred Pastors, who represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church.

§2 Christ’s faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church.

§3 They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.

I am especially glad to read paragraphs 2 and 3, of our rights and duties. We have the right to make known our spiritual needs! We have the right and even the duty to make known our views concerning the good of the Church – to make these views known to the pastors, and to others of the laity. The true duty and responsibility that we carry before Christ is more than the “pay, pray and obey” that some might still think!

No, we Catholic laity have a rightful share in the life of Christ as priest, prophet and King. Part of the sacred duty of our pastors is for them to help enable us to discover and to truly live that life. True Christian love for our pastors, on our part, must include our efforts to help them to fulfill their role as shepherd after the Shepherd – efforts that call forth from us prayer, the personal example of humility and a teachable spirit, works of charity, and straightforward adult-to-adult communication of truth.

Thomas


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thank you again for continuing to write on our need for authentic renewal and in particular on the ways in which clergy and laity can do the truth in love, together building up the Body of Christ.

    This morning, reading the text of yesterday’s Papal Audience, I was blessed by these words of Pope Benedict XVI:

    “…As a precious heritage of the Pauline Year, we can reap the Apostle’s invitation to go deeper into the knowledge of the mystery of Christ, so that he becomes the heart and center of our personal and social realities.

    This is, in fact, the indispensable condition for a true spiritual and ecclesial renewal. As I already emphasized during the first Eucharistic celebration in the Sistine Chapel after my election as the Successor of the Apostle St. Peter, it is precisely from that full communion with Christ that “flows every other element of the Church’s life: first of all, communion among all the faithful, the commitment to proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel, the ardor of love for all, especially the poorest and lowliest” (1st Message at the End of the Eucharistic Concelebration With the Members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, April 20, 2005).”

    To go deeper into the mystery of Christ, so that He becomes the center of our personal and social realities the Pope tells us, is the indispensable condition for a true spiritual and ecclesial renewal.

    I believe that if we are to speak the Truth lovingly to anyone, and perhaps especially to our pastors, our words need to come not from impure hearts or lips, but rather from our union with the Heart of Christ.

    Your concluding words express this grace of His Love for us and His invitation:
    “True Christian love for our pastors, on our part, must include our efforts to help them to fulfill their role as shepherd after the Shepherd – efforts that call forth from us prayer, the personal example of humility and a teachable spirit, works of charity, and straightforward adult-to-adult communication of truth.”


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