| Year 2000 Canonical Studies, pp. 49-80
OFFICES AND MINISTRIES OF THE LAITY IN THE CHURCH
(Fr. Alex Vadakumthala Archdiocese of Verapoly)
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Introduction

An interesting reflection given by Yves Congar would introduce us to this topic:

“…..the Church of God is not built up solely by the actions of the official presbyteral ministry but by a multitude of diverse modes of service, more or less stable or occasional, more or less spontaneous or recognized and when the occasion arises consecrated, while falling short of sacramental ordination. These modes of service do exist. They include, for example, mothers at home catechizing the children of the neighbourhood, the man who coordinates liturgical celebration or reads the sacred texts, the women visiting the sick or prisoners, a parochial secretary, the organizer of a biblical circle, the member of a teamof adult catechists….. Such modes of service proceed from gifts of nature or grace, from those calling which Saint Paul named “charisms” since they are given “for common good” (!Cor. 12: 7, 11). ….. it is worth noticing that the lecisive coupling is not “priesthood/laity”, but rather “ministries/modes of community service” .

We see many simple committed christians, who have the gospel message as their tool prayer as their strength and service as their mission. They too are ministers. Their ministries too are rooted in Christ. As Congar asserts, this service also is an authentic ministry and true participation in the three fold function of Christ. Patricia O’Connel Killen, a married lay woman who helps out in a parish in Cumberland Plateau, southeast of Nashville, in America, shares her experience in ministry which according to her is a ‘mature living out’ of her baptismal promises. She says that “I am engaged in it because I believe that I am called as a baptized Catholic Christian to be a center of God’s love and presence wherever I am. Further, I believe that this central call can be concretized or embodied only through involvement in some ministry to which one is committed” .

Second Vatican Council pointed out this sacramental basis found in christian ministries, as it says:

From the fact of their union with Christ, the head, flows the laymen’s right and duty to be apostles. Inserted as they are in the Mystical Body of Christ by baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, it is by the Lord himself that they are assigned to the apostolate .

Therefore, it is the baptismal privilege that invites one fundamentally to ministry. John M. Huels avers this, as he says, “it is a person’s baptism that provides the sacramental basis for the exercise of any ministry, a basis far more substantial than that of the mere legal principle of jurisdiction” . This logically implies that there is a gradation in the exercise of the tria munera Christi among Christifideles, each one according to one’s own juridical capacity and sacramental competence. Adapting a division which was proposed by John Huels , we could try for an understanding of the various types of ministerial sharing in the christian community.

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