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 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.
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!
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.