The Role of the Laity

Gil Bailie recently gave a presentation at the Convocation of the College of Fellows of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley. Following are some excerpts:

My remarks take their point of departure and borrow their resolve from the following quotation from Hans Urs von Balthasar:

To the layman God has not given the help of sacramental power and ecclesial office, so he will not be able to entrench himself behind these as tactical cover; nor has God given the layman the yoke of ecclesial obedience: such obedience would dispense the layman of his specific responsibility in having to make judgments and take bold steps in the world, and freedom from ecclesial obedience in fact enables the layman to be a Christian in the world who dares all and is exposed to all.  (from Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence)

….As von Balthasar has reminded us, we lay members of the Church will be required to “make judgments and take bold steps in the world,” inasmuch as our “freedom from ecclesial obedience” … both enables and compels us to perform a service for our beloved Church which those under the yoke of ecclesial obedience may be either unqualified, unable, or reluctant to perform. Let us step up, remembering the possibility – nay the likelihood – that in every hostile crowd there may be at least one Saul whom the Church desperately needs and whose conversion may depend on how we behave in the face of worldly opposition.

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