FURMAN – Catholic laypeople share in Christ’s office of priest, prophet and king and can help spread the word of Christ through the way they live their lives, said a bishops’ conference official.
Capuchin Franciscan Father Thomas Wein-andy, director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a lecture at Furman University April 19 that the laity participates in Jesus’ ministry to sanctify, to teach and to govern.
About 75 people attended the talk sponsored by the Newman Center at Furman. Father Weinandy also led a discussion April 20 at St. Mary Church in Greenville on an article he published in First Things, “Does God Suffer?”
At Furman, Father Weinandy said that laymen and laywomen have special talents and abilities to reach out to others that are different from priests’ talents and abilities.
“By sharing in Christ’s threefold office of priest, prophet and king, no layperson should ever consider themselves as mere passive members of the church,” he said. He was referring to the role of the laity described in “Lumen Gentium,” a document of the Second Vatican Council.
“It is their vocation to do so because they are primarily responsible for these lived situations, such as family and married life, or the secular workplace,” he said. “It is in areas such as these where only laypeople are the ones who are actually on the scene.”
Father Weinandy talked to students at Furman about how they can share in the office of priest, prophet and king while they are in college.
His message resonated with Jamie Roberts, a junior at Furman who is majoring in psychology and religion.
Roberts said he particularly enjoyed “what he said about the role as a student, stressing what I can do now in fulfilling the church’s teaching.”
Father Weinandy’s emphasis on the vocation of the laity was especially helpful, Roberts said, because he’s at the point where he’s discerning what vocation he should pursue.
Father Weinandy told the students in his lecture that, by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they possess the priestly authority to help sanctify students, teachers and others through their good deeds.
“Through your own holy example, even in situations of sports and fun, you bring holiness into your relationships and so sanctify this campus,” he said.
College students share in the prophetic office by being on the front line of evangelization at the college campus, Father Weinandy said.
“You are the ones who share your lives most closely with your fellow non-believing or half-hearted students,” he said. “Moreover, as Catholics, you are the ones who can testify to the fullness of truth that resides within the Catholic Church … you possess the prophetic power to testify to the beauty of the Eucharist as the one sacrifice of Christ.”
Father Weinandy also noted that Christ’s prophet ministry must be shared at the workplace because, for many people, the workplace is the only environment they have to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“If they do not hear it from laypeople like yourselves, from whom will they hear it?” he asked.
Father Weinandy said that Catholic laypeople share in governance and the office of king, through influencing society and educating others on the Gospel principles and the church’s social teaching.
“Today we, as Christians and Catholics, are engaged in a cultural war. A culture of death is waging a relentless war against a culture of life,” he said. “… How each Catholic layman and laywoman engages in this battle, and in which battles one engages, will depend on one’s talent and graces. However, no Catholic layperson can absent his or herself from the conflict.”
Parents offer guidance and discipline to their children, and by doing so participate in governance, Father Weinandy said.
“Governance of one’s family in a Christian manner will involve, especially in the non-Christian environment of our day, a great deal of wisdom, patience, courage and fortitude,” he said. “In short, it involves a great deal of hassle, to say the least.”