Lay People and Evangelization: “Missionary Disciples”

“Each Christian, by virtue of baptism, is a missionary disciple to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus.” These words are from the preamble of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, which is reported on in this issue of Romana.

The Second Vatican Council teaches that “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” (Const. Lumen Gentium, no. 31), Echoing these words, Pope Francis again points to the key role of the laity and of all the baptized in the Church’s mission in the world: “Their presence and their participation is essential, since they contribute to the well-being of the entire Church. By their family life, their engagement in society and their faith, which helps them to discern God’s working in the world, they have much to offer, especially through their promotion of the family, respect for the values of life and creation, the Gospel as a leaven of temporal affairs, and the discernment of the signs of the times” (Const. Praedicate Evangelium, no. 10). In this vast scenario, “the marvelous potential of the lay apostolate” (Conversations with Msgr. Escriva de Balaguer, no. 4) unfolds day by day.

At the 10th Meeting of Families, which concluded with the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter’s Square on June 25, the Holy Father also reminded families that “the Church is with you; indeed, the Church is in you!” And he added: “For the Church was born of a family, the Holy Family of Nazareth, and is made up mostly of families.”

This issue also contains news about the publication of the book Holiness in Families around the World, prepared by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. It presents the stories of eight married couples: Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux; Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, the first married couple to be raised to the altars; and six other husbands and wives who are now servants of God: Venerable Sergio Bernardini and Domenica Bedonni, farmers, who raised their ten children in the faith; Luigi Amendolagine and Lelia Cossidente, who lived in Rome and are buried in the same Roman church where they were married; Takashi Paolo and Midori Marina Nagai, Japanese; Cyprien Rugamba and Daphrose Mukasanga, killed with six of their children during the Rwandan genocide (1994); and two married couples of the Prelature of Opus Dei: Eduardo Ortiz de Landázuri and Laura Busca Otaegui (doctor and pharmacist, respectively) and Tomás Alvira and Paquita Domínguez (who stood out as teachers of family and social virtues).

Reading their stories helps us to put a face to these lay evangelizers, who are such by virtue of their baptism, and to remember that holiness does not depend on the role or mission that one is called to carry out in the Church or society, but on “the stature that Christ achieves in us” (Gaudete et exsultate, no. 21).

Therefore we close this brief editorial by echoing Msgr. Ocáriz’s invitation in his message of March 19, which we wish to extend to the whole Church: “Let us ask our Lord that every lay person and every priest, every woman and every man of Opus Dei may know how to live with an evangelizing attitude, with optimism, offering our friendship to all people and seeking above all the friendship of Jesus Christ.”

Romana, n. 74, January-June 2022, p. 9-10.

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