I have been pondering a lot recently about a particular quote from Fulton Sheen:
“Who’s going to save our Church? It’s not our bishops, it’s not our priests and it is not the religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that the priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and the religious act like religious.”
This is an important quote. Many of us seem to think we need to wait around for priests and religious leaders to lead us as Catholics. And while we do need priests to initiate and perform our sacramental tasks, we the laity can - and should - be initiating our own gatherings and events. After all, we are the Church, all of us. We are all called to evangelize and to spread the Gospel. It is a job for us all, and we don't need clerical permission or support.
There are many things we can do. We can form study and prayer groups. We can gather to watch movies about the Faith. We can partake in group pilgrimages to a special shrines and places of fellowship. We can meditate and prayerfully reflect on our relationships with each other - and most importantly with Christ. We can gather to pray the Rosary together, or the Way of the Cross.
These are all things we can do on our own, without support from priests, bishops or religious leaders. In fact, there is great power in rising to the occasions of performing such tasks, and Graces to be found and to benefit from.
It can be more difficult, and the struggle more daunting and frustrating than organizing a secular event, but the effort is definitely worth it. Most of us have no problem organizing events such as birthday parties, graduation celebrations, and tailgate gatherings, to name just a few. How awesome would it be to focus more on opportunities to unite in Faith, and celebrate and prayerfully reflect on Christ. How about a girls night to watch a movie about Saint Maria Goretti, or Our Lady of Fatima instead of the trash most of us revel in that don't bring us any closer to the Lord, and actually harms us spiritually? How about a tailgate party to pray the Rosary together, as we share in Christian fellowship and food.
The two greatest saints in Heaven were not clergy- St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother were laity. They had no clerical office, yet now hold the highest saintly ranks in Heaven. The laity will save the Church, but we need to refocus our hearts and minds to the next world instead of this world to do that. It's going to take some sacrifice, and we are going to run up against the competition this world offers up instead, and might seem much more enticing and desirable. We are going to be rejected, but so was Christ. In time, the truly Faithful will come to understand and order priorities rightly, and the more opportunities available for that to happen, the more it will.
The laity will save the Church, by bringing holiness and the pursuit of holiness into the everyday events and occasions of our lives. It really isn't all that difficult and only takes some slight shifts in direction, yet the rewards, Graces and benefits will be out of this world!