I spent the past two days at a seminar on Woman in the Church and in the World, sponsored by the Siena Symposium for Women, Family, and Culture. The seminar included some wonderful sessions on the problems confronting women, the Marian Dimension of the Church, the family as “domestic Church,” the mission of the laity, among others.
Near the end of the first day, we talked about an important subject not unique to women – the role of the laity. We looked at some beautiful language in Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici (The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World) addressing a subject we don’t often think about: “the priestly, prophetic and kingly dignity of the entire People of God.”
When we receive the sacrament of Baptism, we are anointed with oil as a sign that we are joined to Christ and share in his threefold mission as prophet, priest, and king. One of the aims of Christifideles Laici is to remind us of this charge, to encourage us to take seriously our role in this mission.
What does it mean for us to share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ? (Do we even think about that question?)
To be a prophet in the Christian sense means to “accept the Gospel in faith and to proclaim it in word and deed.”
To participate in the kingly mission means to “seek to overcome in [ourselves] the kingdom of sin.” Someone suggested in our discussion that for us to act kingly means for us to exercise sovereignty over ourself to that we may then make a gift of ourself to others.
To share in Jesus priestly mission, which for Jesus meant sacrificing himself on the cross, means for us to let all of our activities become spiritual sacrifices, that is, to carry out all of our deeds in the Spirit and with love.
It is a tall order. But that is what we are called to by our baptism.