As a boy growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, I felt that, through my experience of the Catholic faith, worship and education, I was a very small part of a worldwide family of believers. That certainly remains true to this day. However certain things within my faith began changing.
With the onset of changes in the Mass from Vatican II and its use of “Holy Spirit” in liturgical prayers, I learned as a college student that “Spirit” was a better translation from the Greek word, pneuma, based on the Hebrew, ruach, meaning the movement of air. Wow! This certainly was better than comparing the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity to the cartoon character, Casper, the friendly ghost. From this I learned that change can be beneficial and even revelatory.
Three Radical Statements from Vatican II
In my seminary years I was inspired by the new liturgy, its intelligibility and its wonderful music. I learned about the significant importance of Vatican II’s document, Gaudium et Spes (The Constitution of the Church in the Modern World), promulgated in 1963. In this revolutionary document the Catholic Church effectively declared itself as a Church for the world of the 20th century. In the first paragraph of this document, it states that:
|“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the (people) of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” (preface, #1).|
Later in that same document, the Fathers of Vatican II further explained the proper place of the laity in the Church:
“…Let the layman not imagine that his pastors are always such experts, that to every problem which arises, however complicated, they can readily give him a concrete solution, or even that such is their mission. Rather… let the layman take on his (or her) own distinctive role. (#34)”
I had never heard such words of encouragement to the laity within the Catholic Church!
In another document, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, the Fathers of Vatican II introduced a truly scriptural vision of the shared vocation of all the members of the Church:
“The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one — that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God” (Lumen Gentium, #41).
They simply stated what St. Paul has previously said about our common identity:
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 27-28).
The Church Changes in Order to Remain True to Herself
From “Holy Ghost” to all this! How can the Church change and yet remain the same? The great contemporary scholar, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., explains it this way:
“St. Gregory the Great… stated that Scripture... ‘grows with those who read it’; that is, it grows by constantly being read and lived, to the extent that new questions and new challenges in history arise. The doctrine of faith changes, then, but only in order to remain true to itself; it changes as regards historical contingencies, in order to remain the same in substance, as Benedict XVI has said” (emphasis added).
Later on, Fr. Cantalmessa explains the role of the Holy Spirit in the renewal of the Church:
“The Holy Spirit doesn’t speak new words. He doesn’t create new sacraments and new institutions. Rather, he renews and perennially enlivens the words, the sacraments and the institutions which Jesus created. He doesn’t do new things, but makes all things new!” (emphasis added)
The Proper Place of La Salette Laity within La Salette Life and Ministry
Pope John XXIII prayed that the Second Vatican Council would be a new Pentecost that would renew the church. In speaking of the laity’s call to discipleship and their spiritual lives, this charismatic emphasis is significant. The Second Vatican Council said that the gifts or charisms given for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are certainly not limited to clergy and religious. Laypeople also receive the Holy Spirit’s grace and energy to follow the call of Christ to love and service.
In fact, those laity who connect themselves to the La Salette Missionaries and their many ministries can actually participate in the charism of reconciliation as reflected in their own vocation and life. Since the closing of the Second Vatican Council, the La Salette Missionaries have been realizing more and more the marvelous gifts brought to their ministries through the presence, collaboration and gifts of the laity.
2011 First International La Salette Lay Encounter
|Morning Prayer on Mt. Planeau,
behind the La Salette Basilica, First
International La Salette Lay Encounter,
Sept-1-10, 2011, Holy Mountain, France
- Keep up a blog on La Salette Laity and a newsletter in various languages.
- Continue the international encounter, a suggestion that needs to be passed on to the General Chapter, determining the place and the dates.
- Program encounters on the national, Provincial or Regional level. This is a present priority. These encounters devote attention to formation, spirituality and organization. Where possible this takes place with the La Salette Missionaries.
- Help the laity become knowledgeable about the La Salette event and message.
- With the help of the La Salette Missionaries and Sisters, make known to other La Salette laity the work of the First International Lay Encounter.
- Sense of Unity
- Make the 19th of each month a special day for that prayer, as well as a day for keeping up to date about what La Salette laity are doing around the world.
- Work for vocations to La Salette religious life (priests/brothers) and be alert for occasions where this can be done together with others.
- La Salette Laity Day
- Designate September 10 as the World Day of La Salette Laity, a day on which activities are planned in each country regarding our charism of reconciliation.
2012 La Salette General Chapter
|2013 General Chapter Members with
La Salette Attleboro, MA, Community
The General Chapter asks the General Council to motivate the Provinces and Regions to accompany and promote activities with the goal of working together with the La Salette Laity in light of the recommendations of the First International Encounter of La Salette Laity held in France in 2011.
1. In the Provinces and Regions:
- a. Establish together with the La Salette laity a formation program in light of the spirituality of reconciliation and of the apparition (event, message and charism).
- b. Encourage common activities in mission and volunteer services, especially in the area of fostering vocations.
- c. Promote September 10th as the “Day of La Salette Laity,” as established at the First International Encounter of La Salette Laity, opening channels of communication between laity and religious of the Provinces and Regions.
- d. To the extent possible and necessary, allocate monies to assist the efforts and activities of the La Salette Laity.
- e. Seek to create space for participation of La Salette Laity in Provincial and Regional structures.
The General Council:
- a. Designates one of its members to coordinate the preparation of the Second International Encounter of La Salette Laity in 2016.
- b. Encourages the La Salette Laity to send proposals (postulata), on their own or together with La Salette Missionaries, to the next General Chapter in 2018.
Our La Salette Laity Today
There are two events that are very important to La Salette Laity – people who are connected with the life and ministry of the La Salette Missionaries:
2013: La Salette Lay Summit, Orlando, Florida, Thursday, Oct. 24th to Saturday, Oct. 26th
(information to follow….)
2016: Second International Encounter of La Salette Laity (place and dates to be established)
Our prayer and sincere hope is that the La Salette Missionaries and the La Salette Laity throughout the world will continue to pray and work together, to grow and change together, so that we can remain true to Mary’s message at La Salette and the charism of reconciliation and continue to make this known to “all her people.”