By Jean-Paul Afif
Today we come together not merely as individuals, but as the living body of the Church. We gather at a pivotal moment, a moment that transcends the ordinary and beckons us to recognize the extraordinary calling that rests upon us.
We are the laity, and this is our hour.
The great Saint Mother Teresa once said, "do small things with great love." These words encapsulate the essence of our mission.
As lay Catholic leaders, we do not need to embark on grandiose endeavors to make a profound impact. Rather, it begins in the everyday acts of kindness, in the small gestures, in the seemingly insignificant moments where love shines through.
Just as St. Therese of Lisieux showed us with her "Little Way," our path to holiness isn't paved with flashy gestures and flamboyant displays of faith. But rather, it is the gentle, unwavering commitment to doing the smallest things with great love that propels us forward.
What do these small things look like in the context of our mission as lay Catholic leaders? Well it is essential to understand that our calling is not confined to church activities or large-scale events; but rather, it's rooted in our everyday lives.
It's in the way we treat our coworkers, in the patience we show our spouses, children, and our parents. It is in the kindness we extend to our neighbors and also those who have wronged us.
We must not underestimate the power of our smallest actions! It's through these seemingly mundane interactions that we carry the light of Christ into the world.
We evangelize not only through words but through our personal relationships, through the naturally occurring friendships that we have been blessed with in our lives. It’s in these relationships, we have the opportunity to be ambassadors for Christ, leading by example, and showing that our faith isn't just a Sunday ritual but rather an everyday way of our life… the breath of our life.
St. Padre Pio, a beacon of faith and piety, left us with intense wisdom: "Prayer is the best weapon we possess. It is the key that opens the heart of God." In a world fraught with turmoil, prayer becomes not only our lifeline but also our most potent weapon. Through prayer, we find communion with God, and our hearts are opened to His guidance and grace.
In the face of all adversity, we must stand unwavering, committed to prayer, and guided by our faith that transcends all earthly concerns.
St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, left us with a profound insight: "It is not enough to know, we must also apply. It is not enough to will, we must also do." Our faith is not passive knowledge; but rather it is a call to active living. We are called to apply our faith in every aspect of our lives, to literally WILL the GOOD, and to do the good. This is the crux of being a lay Catholic leader. This is the intersection of faith and action.
In today's world, more than ever, we must venture beyond the boundaries of our faith communities. Our workplaces, our schools, our civil societies, our sports and hobbies, all of our non-faith-based secular communities, and our families, this is where our mission specifically begins.
It is here our everyday actions as lay catholic leaders, infused with great love, serve as beacons of hope and truth.
To be effective leaders, we must excel in our roles, whatever they may be.
Our daily work, whether it's in the office, the home, or the community, becomes the very canvas on which we paint our devotion to God. Or rather, if we choose to give ourselves completely to Him, we then become His instrument, His paint brush. Then, we are finally united in creation with Him. Our work becomes His work. as we are literally doing the work of God, working hand in hand with the Father.
St. John Paul II once urged us, "The future starts today, not tomorrow." The hour of the laity is now, and the Church and the world are counting on us to lead.
As each one of us step into our roles as lay Catholic leaders, we must be grounded in the principles that guide us. Our understanding of Catholic Social Doctrine, our unwavering respect for the dignity of every human person, and our lifelong commitment to growing in virtue help to direct our journey.
My dear friends, let us never forget that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Our world often veers away from our faith, and our resolve is constantly being tested.
Stay rooted in prayer, frequent daily communion, feeding on the eucharist – the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As lay Catholic leaders the Eucharist is the wellspring of our strength and the catalyst for our action.
In this age... the age of the laity, leadership is not a mere option; but rather it is our calling. We have a duty to lead! We are not spectators on the sidelines; but rather we are active players on the field in God's grand design.
As we answer our sacred call of duty and take up our crosses, we fulfill our vocation as laypeople. Our world hungers for the genuine embodiment of faith, for leaders who are beacons of love, hope, and action.
My dear friends, let the words of St. Josemaría Escrivá echo in our hearts, "Do not be afraid to become the saints of the new millennium." These simple words encapsulate our mission as lay Catholic leaders.
With prayer as our guide, the eucharist as our anchor, and Christ’s empty tomb as our testament, we are poised to make a remarkable impact on this world.
May the grace of God empower each of us to persevere and to order each and every minute and action of our daily lives to bringing the light of Christ into the world to transform our society from the inside out.
The time of the laity is now!
Let me close with prayer… Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.
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