Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Proclaiming Christ by Their Life and Words

“They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.” (Art. 6a, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

June 30th is the feast day of Blessed Raymond Lull, a Spaniard who lived from 1235 to 1315. He was at one time a member of the court of the king of Mallorca, but after hearing a sermon, he suddenly desired to convert his life. He became a Secular Franciscan and became a hermit for about nine years. He left his solitude when he was inspired to promote missionary work, by founding a college to train future missionaries in foreign languages and in techniques on how to debate with Muslims over points concerning the faith. He traveled through Europe, trying to convince bishops and the Pope on the importance of setting up such colleges in their dioceses. Although he remained a layman, he himself journeyed to North Africa in 1314 as a missionary. Unfortunately, he was stoned by a mob of angry Arabs; he died from his wounds back in Mallorca.

As mentioned above, Raymond, although heavily involved in missionary work, never felt called to be ordained, and remained a layperson. One of the important things that came out of the Second Vatican Council was the realization that the laity has a role in the mission of Church to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that fulfilling that mission is not just restricted to the clergy and religious. Some of us are called to be teachers, catechists, but the majority of us make Jesus known to the world by the way we live His Gospel; by the way we obey His command to love one another.

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