SPIRITUALITY OF THE LAITY IN THE CHURCH
Tod Walker, Local Minister SFO - Mosman
When my generation grew up in the 30's and 40's, we were taught by the
Sisters and Brothers. The clergy had a great influence on us, because of the
success of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which we were part of until we
got married, usually to a girl from the CYO. Maybe, this influence by these
religious was the reason for the high numbers entering seminaries in those days.
This left many with the idea that spirituality was something for the clergy
and religious. They had it made, getting to heaven: with morning Mass, the daily
Office, and constant contact with their fellow religious or clergy. The rest of
us, the laity, struggle on in this material world, doing the best we can to gain
salvation. Now, this picture I paint is only as it was seen by a small minority.
I'm sure there were many good holy, saintly lay people who lived during that
Then, along came Vatican II and the many changes that followed. The laity
seemed to be seen in a new light. They could and should be used in spreading the
Good News, and they became much more active in the Liturgy and the management of
the parish. Many of the laity were introduced to the Prayer of the Church.
Today, it is not unusual to see a lay person with a breviary.
Many of the laity and religious have degrees in theology and are now working
in parishes as Pastoral Assistants. There are also many lay people successfully
lecturing in seminaries and running courses on religious topics.
The married laity cannot and should not be distracted from their man
vocation, that is, of developing their family as practising Catholics. They
should raise their children in the Faith by their teaching and example. All of
this should lead them all to become an active part of their parish community.
I really believe that lay spirituality can be developed in the parish. There
we can find all the ingredients needed to practise and to grow spiritually. We
have prayer through the Eucharist, the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the
devotions of the Church.
We have charitable works by working in the St Vincent de Paul Society, and
special ministers to the housebound, caring for the spiritual welfare of
parishioners by working in the Legion of Mary, the R.C.I.A. program, and all the
other tasks required to keep a parish operating successfully.
If we are involved in any of these tasks, we are doing something for someone
else, and therefore being part of that wonderful Mystical Body that St Paul
The Parish Priest then has the job of helping all these workers to grow
spiritually so that these tasks are performed for the love of God and so that
they are able to see Jesus in all they serve.
We Secular Franciscans are very lucky in as much as we have been introduced
to the prayers of the Church by reciting them daily. We have found the beauty of
There are many other ways of finding the Lord, but I have found that the Franciscan charism and the parish community have really worked for me.