Christifideles Laici – Join Us As We Study This Important Apostolic Exhortation

by Apologetics, Catholic Bible Studies And Reflections

We are all familiar with the dynamics of being part of a family. There are moments of joy and occasional misunderstandings. Some may feel burdened with the majority of responsibilities, while others may feel overlooked and unable to contribute their skills. There are times of distance, but also joyful reunions that strengthen the bond. In order for a family to thrive, it is crucial for each member to understand their role and value, and for those to be respected and appreciated by others. A strong and functional family requires intentionality, a clear understanding of purpose, and the commitment of its members to make the dynamics work.

The Familial Bond Between Lay People And The Catholic Church

Recognizing that the Catholic Church is akin to a family, the bishops convened in a synod in 1987 to emphasize the importance of the laity in the Church’s well-being. In response to this synod, Pope St. John Paul II published the apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici (Christ’s Faithful People) in December 1988, highlighting the familial bond between the lay faithful and their Catholic faith.

Drawing on the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-16), the pope reaffirmed that every person, regardless of gender or role, has a part to play in transforming the world (the vineyard) by actively and responsibly participating in the Church’s mission. Additionally, referencing Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5), the pope emphasized that each individual contributes a unique aspect to the vineyard (the branches). We are not mere workers; we are integral partners in fulfilling Christ’s mission in our world.

Christifideles Laici

Christifideles Laici sheds light on the inherent value of every Catholic in promoting Christ and addressing the challenges within the universal Church.

By focusing on the power of the lay community in their vocation, communion, and mission, Christifideles Laici highlights the intrinsic value of every Catholic. Together, let us explore how this papal document helps us understand our essential role as valued workers and partners in the vineyard.

The participation of the lay faithful in the threefold mission of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King finds its source in the anointing of Baptism, its further development in Confirmation and its realization and dynamic sustenance in the Holy Eucharist. It is a participation given to each member of the lay faithful individually, in as much as each is one of the many who form the one Body of the Lord: in fact, Jesus showers his gifts upon the Church which is his Body and his Spouse. In such a way individuals are sharers in the threefold mission of Christ in virtue of their being members of the Church, as St. Peter clearly teaches, when he defines the baptized as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Pt 2:9). Precisely because it derives from Church communion, the sharing of the lay faithful in the threefold mission of Christ requires that it be lived and realized in communion and for the increase of communion itself. Saint Augustine writes: “As we call everyone ‘Christians’ in virtue of a mystical anointing, so we call everyone ‘priests’ because all are members of only one priesthood”[27].

Christifideles Laici

Join Catholic-Link For A 5 Week Study On Christifideles Laici

Please join us for a five-part series exploring the vocation and mission of the laity as found in St. Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation with the Abiding Together Podcast. Every week, we will meet via Zoom and discuss the journaling questions along with the podcast episode. We look forward to journeying with you! 

SPACE IS LIMITED….Please sign up here: Small Group Sign-Up
For more information please contact Dominique at

You can find Christifideles Laici for FREE on The Vatican’s Website

If you would like to purchase a reprint of Christifideles Laici, you can find a copy on Amazon (US), Catholic Truth Society (UK), or head to your nearest bookstore and request Christifideles Laici by the Catholic Truth Society and the bookstore should be able to order it in.


Image: Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

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