As the pandemic eases in the United States and much begins to reopen, we have the opportunity to reflect on where we have been as Church and what we are called to do. Many are still suffering around the world and in the U.S. from the effects of the pandemic. This moment is a unique one to revive faith and rekindle charity as apostles of Christ. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, reminds us:
“The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to his name” (12).
We are co-responsible as the baptized to witness Christ in what we say and do. If we say that we are believers in Jesus Christ, then we need to show our faith by what we do for others. Seems easy. It is not, as we know. We cannot go about it alone. We need the grace provided by Christ, particularly in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. This is why livestreams of Mass are not enough. We need to receive Christ in the midst of the community of faith, the Church, and then strengthened by him and the community, we can go forth in his name, doing his mission.
What an amazing responsibility we have! To live it well, we must be living witnesses of Christ. Pope Francis invites us, in line with the exhortation of many saints, to take it a step further:
“Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God. Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace. For in the words of León Bloy, when all is said and done, ‘the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint’” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 34).
May the Charity of Christ urge us on!
A few weeks ago my first niece was born. Needless to say, the pride of being an aunt flooded me and the joy of this news was shared with every person I spoke to. In these conversations I had one of those “you know you are a Catholic when” moments. The question that persistently followed “What is her name?” was “When is she going to be baptized?” This got me to think, “What’s the big deal?” And then the Holy Spirit hit me with, “PRIEST, PROPHET and KING!”
In infant baptism, we are not only cleansed of original sin and saved from “eternal damnation.” We are chosen and claimed. When immersed into the water with the Trinitarian rite – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – baptism is signifying and actually bringing about “death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ” (CCC 1239).
But our rite doesn’t end there. As. Fr. Kevin Nadolski, OSFS, puts it, “we are then slathered in Jesus gel and given a crown of royalty.” In being anointed with Sacred Chrism, we are chosen by God, claimed by Christ and through the Holy Spirit are named priest, prophet and king (CCC 1241).
St. Francis de Sales writes, “Be who you are, and be that well.” We, as baptized, are priests. We are prophets. We are royalty. The call as baptized disciples is to live these attributes and to live them well. Lumen Gentium explains that by our priestly duty we are called to “consecrate the world itself to God” (LG 34) through our works, prayers, activities, and daily responsibilities. It explains that as prophets we are to announce Jesus Christ by life and word and be witnesses to “life springing forth from faith (LG 35).” And lastly, that as His disciples we are named as His kings so that we too “might be constituted in royal freedom and that by true penance and a holy life [we] might conquer the reign of sin in [ourselves]” (LG 36).
This winter, my niece will join us in our royal dignity and become a priest, prophet and king! At that time I will begin to tell her, “Be who you are, and be that well,” and will continue to say that as she grows. The challenging part will be looking at myself as a Baptized Catholic and answering the question, “Am I being who I am – priest, prophet and king – and being that well?”
Pam Tremblay is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.