“The voice of the Lord clearly resounds in the depths of each of Christ’s followers, who through faith and the sacraments of Christian initiation is made like to Jesus Christ, is incorporated as a living member in the Church and has an active part in her mission of salvation.”
“The whole Church, Pastors and lay faithful alike, standing on the threshold of the Third Millennium, ought to feel more strongly the Church’s responsibility to obey the command of Christ, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15), and take up anew the missionary endeavor. A great venture, both challenging and wonderful, is entrusted to the Church-that of a re-evangelization, which is so much needed by the present world. The lay faithful ought to regard themselves as an active and responsible part of this venture, called as they are to proclaim and to live the gospel in service to the person and to society while respecting the totality of the values and needs of both.”
— John Paul II
December 30, 1988
John Paul II issued this Apostolic Exhortation CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI in Rome on December 30, 1988, when I was 24 years old and just married. The internet was not as robust as it is today but I remember I thought I should read it and see for myself what was in it. I don’t remember reading the letter but I do remember the message that the lay faithful should be an active part in the mission of the Church. I let the idea percolate within me over the years.
Life moved quickly after that: graduate school, our first child, jobs, then three more children, a move, and kids with all their joys, frustrations, sorrows, birthdays and challenges – the works. It seemed we were all so busy but I was determined to do what I could to teach my children about the faith and place them in Catholic schools. I had limited time but I was going to do what I was capable of doing. I volunteered for this committee and that position. I was the treasurer of the parent’s board; help out in the fund drive, Eucharistic Minister, coach, etc. I had fun and enjoyed my fellow Catholics and citizens.
Then, after years of being hidden, news of the scandal hit Boston. Those poor children/present day adults – may they find healing and peace somewhere, some time. The news of the crimes (secular), sins (theological), evil (spiritual) and cover-up (complicit with evil) was shocking.
The Archdiocese of Boston would eventually admit to 248 priests in the scandal (some say there was more) during the course of more than 450 lawsuits.* Much has been written on the scandal. I can’t add much. The scandal was a manifestation of evil and those who covered it up were complicit with evil.
At the time, along with thousands of others, I decided to take actions to let people know that the Catholic Church of the scandal was not the Catholic Church I knew and loved. I volunteered as a Eucharistic Minister in a major hospital in Boston. I wanted to bring the love of Christ to people who were in need of His comfort and healing. It was a powerful and emotionally draining experience. I hope it was, in a small way, a contribution to healing and an important witness for Christ’s Church.
Not surprisingly, as our children grew the demands of everyday parenting became less and less. I began to look for something I could do that would fill a need for the Catholic Community. I considered joining many organizations and charities. I believed that what is commonly called Catholic piety – a better term is Catholic spirituality – needed to be re-proposed to the faithful. Today, it is often described as “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer.” I view it as a renewal of “Catholic spiritual life” among the faithful.
One outcome of all this pondering was a decision to start a publishing company to evangelize to a broader Catholic audience beyond my family and parish. Time constraints – oh, those children! – had forced me to let go of visits to the hospital. But, out of this came Christus Publishing, created to help in the New Evangelization with an emphasis on Catholic Spirituality.
There is more to this story, but that is another post for another day.
Peace and Grace to all.