Lumen Gentium 31

Following the release of the final draft Motions and Amendments for the Second Assembly of the Plenary, the Australian Cardijn Institute organised an online “Lumen Gentium 31” forum, taking its name from §31 of the Vatican II Constitution.

31. The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church. These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world.

What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. It is true that those in holy orders can at times be engaged in secular activities, and even have a secular profession. But they are by reason of their particular vocation especially and professedly ordained to the sacred ministry. Similarly, by their state in life, religious give splendid and striking testimony that the world cannot be transformed and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes. But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. Therefore, since they are tightly bound up in all types of temporal affairs it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such a way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer.

We had observed that the earlier Framework for Motions document had referred only to the section of the first paragraph of LG31 on the faithful as “sharers in the priestly, prophetical and kingly functions of Christ.” And it had ignored the second paragraph, which sets out the lay apostolate of lay people.

We were pleased to find that the Motions and Amendments document did include include half a dozen new references to the lay apostolate.

Still, we had further suggestions for improvement that can be seen here:

We look forward to seeing the final results of the Plenary!

Stefan Gigacz

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Forum: Lumen Gentium 31 and the lay apostolate (Australian Cardijn Institute)


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