- Among the Faithful
- A. Introduction
- Among the Faithful
- Event Information
- Remaining Faithful in Ministry: 9 Essential Convictions for Every Pastor
He was a man of the streets who kept us honest and kept us on our toes.
Among the Faithful
He inspired love and he inspired us to be present. After a final night on the streets--his preferred home--he passed away at St. Mary's Hospital on May But if your liberation and well-being are bound up with mine, let us work together. This is our guiding principle as we collaborate with our neighbors to bring about a more just society. Founded as an educational and charitable organization, we are a community dedicated to learning. We offer internships, immersion programs, and community based learning programs dedicated to nurturing the talents and intelligence within each of us.
Aware of our judgments, we seek to meet people where they are through the arts, education, advocacy, and accompaniment. We participate in shattering myths about those living in poverty, seeing the light, courage, intelligence, strength, and creativity of the people we encounter. We discover on the streets our common humanity through which celebration, community, and healing occur. We discover. Our Common Humanity. There were certain factors which influenced that. Among the factors which influenced positioning of some lay person during high patristic period were the following:.
Those few men who had great influence in the Church during this period played extensive roles of power within the Church because of their connection to government. Their social standing remained a factor that underlined their significant position in the Church. Their conspicuous wealth paved a smooth way for them to assume high positions within the ecclesial structures. Those influential lay persons were highly educated in the sciences and thus were highly regarded in the Church of the time. As a result, it created a good relationship between the Christians and the government of the entire empire.
However, there was no established agreement regarding Church-government relationship. From to AD, there was a trend toward a strong and mutual relationship between Church and government. The Church became an imperial Church with privileged status based on toleration. This took place under Theodosius and there emerged as a result a new dimension of competition between the significant persons of the leadership of the empire and the leaders of the Church.
The ecclesiastical leaders were making moves to press the temporal leadership to suppress Greco-Roman religious practices whose practices anti-Christian yet were widely observed within the empire. From the time of Constantine and onwards, there was a fundamental option for positive relationship on the side of the Church and that of the empire, which in no small measure resulted into competition.
This period of history of the Church, between AD and AD paved for understanding to the positioning of the lay persons in the Church. A technical term ordo emerged and was used in the Church during pre-Constantine period.
This term referred to the established ecclesiastical order to which the clerics belonged. As a result of that, negative aspect of the laity reared its ugly head. During Constantine period, this idea of clerical order was fully established in the Church and was introduced into the social and political structures of the Greco-Roman empire.
With its introduction into the socio-political arena, the idea of clerical order gradually influenced negatively the position of the laity within both ecclesial structures and the socio- economic structures of the empire. Hence, the status of the clerics became elevated while the position of the laity in the Church became de-valued.
In the Frankish Church, the relationship between the Church and government became a matter of regnum et sacerdotium. The relationship of government with the Church became a relationship with the clerics of the Christian community. During the Frankish period, the lay person in the Western Church was not considered as important figure in this regnum et sacerdotium struggle and therefore was further pushed to the background and even de-positioned.
As a consequence, the ordinary non-ordained persons in the Church lost prestige. From AD to AD, despite the fact that the laity was gradually reduced to a low and insignificant position in the Church, there were few lay persons who gained important positions within the ecclesial structures. Example of some of the lay persons who were in privileged position in the Church at the time was the category of lay persons in the North African Church referred to as seniores laici. These seniores laici exercised administrative and disciplinary functions in the North African Church.
They cooperated with the bishop in the administration of temporal goods of the Church. Some of them also worked seemingly as judicial functionaries. Their presence in the Church was an indication of the fact that there was a kind of new distinction between the ordinary lay people in the Church who had no important position and these seniores laici who had privileged position and ecclesiastical offices.
This category of lay persons in the North African Church continued to play important ecclesial roles throughout the first part of the high Patristic period. The seniores laici had privileged position because of their high social status as well as their high educational backgrounds. There is no historical record that can testify that these privileged lay persons made some attempt to claim a permanent position of respect for themselves.
It is historically evident that their presence gradually faded away and finally disappeared from the North African Church, probably due to heavy clericalization of the ecclesial structures including the positions held by the seniores laici. During this period, few privileged lay persons gained powerful positions in government and consequently some of them also assumed significant positions in the Church. There were lay men who were given curial position in the Episcopal offices, especially in the curiae of the bishops of Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Milan and Antioch.
They functioned as advocates in the socio-political arena for the needs of the Christians. The presence of the Defensores ecclesiae was initiated by the request of the imperial court to cater for the legal needs of Christians. However, the destruction of the African Churches by the Vandals brought to an end the function of Defensores ecclesiae in the African Church. Nevertheless, they continued to function in the Roman Church but were later replaced with monks and clerics by Gregory the Great.
Some lay persons men and women who were affluent contributed to the well-being of the Church in financial and material terms. In most cases, the wealth of these men and women made it possible for them to be in privileged positions within Church communities. One can also speak about those lay people who had high educational background and played great roles in the Church, particularly in the area of theology.
For example, Didymus the Blind became one of the important lay lecturers in the catechetical school at Alexandria. He was a teacher of both Jerome and Rufinus. He was consulted by both Anthony, the Hermit and Palladius. Another lay person who was a sophist called Asterius was granted the opportunity to preach in Syrian Churches between and He was also chosen to attend synods of bishops, even though there was a clear-cut prohibition against that.
Prior to his Episcopal ordination he was a lay theologian. His election as a bishop was influenced by his prominence in the Church. There are many examples of lay men and women who played varying roles within the Church structures. Most of the instances of such lay involvement were due to the privileged governmental positions those lay persons had, while only a few cases were due to individual reasons.
During this period, the status of the emperor also attracted great importance. This started especially from the time of Constantine. There seemed to be a kind of competition between the emperor and the hierarchy of the Church. In addition, there was a group of lay people who distinguished themselves from other lay persons in the Church because of their high educational status, their involvement in government as well as the wealth of their families.
In the attempt to establish legitimacy to various Sees in the Church, Church leaders placed much emphasis on apostolic succession which was an idea that developed strongly in the late second century AD and onwards. Moreover, other theological positions were also created during the period. The beginning of the Medieval Period marks the end of the Patristic Period though it is not easy to determine exactly the point in time Patristic period ended.
During the later part of Medieval period, lay people had a great and active control over many crucial Church-related affairs. This led to finding a theological and sacramental basis or justification of this positioning of the king and later the emperor. This move triggered a contrary process which intended to remove the theological and sacramental justification of the positioning of the king or the emperor and to reduce his position to lay state. The same effects of over-clericalism made in-road into the monastic communities to the extent that monastic life became dominantly a clerical preserve.
As a result, more and more monks were ordained so that the non-ordained monks became less important in the monasteries. It is noteworthy to mention here that the ordinary lay persons in the Church were very much deprived of educational opportunities. Education, especially in the Western Church, was reserved for certain clerics or monks and nuns and to few well-positioned imperial aristocratic individuals. Thus illiteracy was created among the lay majority.
In the west, for example Latin became the sole medium of teaching and the lay people who were ignorant of it Latin were equally deprived of Christian literacy. Gradually, the laity became people without education and therefore became powerless. Such a group lacked leaders and they could not engage in any debate that could favor their positioning in the Church. As a result, the uneducated lay persons became passive hearers and spectators in the Church.
It was during high Medieval period as well as Reformative period that the laity began to acquire education and they revolted with the help of their educated leaders. In that regard, it can be said that education of the lay people was the main reason for the positioning of the lay persons in the Church. The above mentioned factors in a great measure rendered the ordinary lay member of the Church less important in the Church as well as in socio-political world. The Church became hierarchically structured in such a way that the lay faithful had no place of importance in it.
The center of this hierarchical society was regnum and sacerdotium  However, the sacerdotium began to question the divine source or divine institution of the kingship i. Eventually, sacerdotium also began to regard itself as properly speaking the only institution which has its source in the divine.
Therefore, sacerdotium began to see itself over and above the regnum and even as the source of regnum.
Among the Faithful
This gradually developed into a struggle between the kingship and the papacy. This struggle also affected the position of the laity in the Church negatively. In the liturgical arena, the lay persons who were distinct from the monks and the clerics were in a gradual manner removed or excluded from participating actively in the liturgical celebrations of the Church. Even teaching of catechism before baptism, which was an activity for the ordinary lay person in the Church, was taken over by the clerics.
The anointing of the sick and marriage also became mandatorily ministry of the clergy. Furthermore, the antiphonal parts of the celebration of the Eucharist became parts taken over by the monks and the clerics. The liturgy became a sole clerical and monastic function and the lay persons became the observers and listeners during liturgical celebrations. In addition, the liturgy became less understandable for the ordinary lay person since Latin became the common language of the liturgy. Another factor that hindered the ordinary lay persons to intelligibly grasp the meaning of the liturgy during this period was the lack of devotional literature in vernacular languages.
This lack consequently contributed to the spiritual impoverishment of the lay people in Church at the time. As far as the discipline of the Church was concerned, the role of the laity in this arena was non-existent. The lay persons could not exert any influence in the discipline of the Church, rather the clerics took over the entire role in the disciplinary aspect of ecclesiastical life. Decision-making became the sole responsibility of the clerics.
Only an insignificant number of royal personalities continued to share in some measure in ecclesiastical decision. The laity was reduced to subordinate position; the lay persons became passive listeners and followers. Only the wealthy and noble lay persons of the time were allowed to have a share in ecclesiastical leadership.
They had a share in Church leadership not because of their lay state but because of the political powers they wielded within the socio- ecclesial structure. The deprivation of the laity of ecclesiastical leadership role provoked a reaction from the side of the laity. The laity revolted in order to regain a rightful and deliberate voice within the Church.
However, the efforts made by the laity to regain a rightful and deliberate voice were overthrown and the channels that could aid these efforts of the laity were removed and thus non-existent. All doors were closed to lay involvement in the Church leadership. Even the non-ordained regal influence was questioned by the clergy and was gradually kicked away from Church leadership in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Moreover, lack of education on the part of the laity also deprived them of the opportunities to participate actively in both political and ecclesiastical life.
In this case, the status of the laity in the West, by the year AD was not a promising one. The laity was excluded in taking part in decision-making within socio-political and ecclesiastical affairs. By the year AD, there were favorable moves to position the lay persons in the Western Church. Between AD and AD, intellectual, political and economic factors among others influenced and played a great role in empowering the ordinary lay persons in the Church.
During this period, various reforms were initiated in which all levels of society were involved and it was an indication of the fact that people of all levels of society were dissatisfied with the way Christian life and discipleship was presented. The society was yearning for gospel discipleship.
However, the reform of Pope Gregory VII affected in a major manner the repositioning of the ordinary lay persons. The Gregorian reform marginalized the laity with regard to conferment of ecclesiastical offices. The reform produced a counter-movement to the assertion of the role of the laity in ecclesiastical structures. This reform sought to emphasize importance of the papacy and clerical position in ecclesiastical offices and in so doing excluded the laity.
During the sixteenth century, there were several reformations with different characteristics. The Church became fractured. The issue regarding the lay person in the Church was one of the factors that fomented these reformations. The Council of Trent was particularly concerned about any issue regarding the presence of the laity and their activities or role in the Church. However, the Council, apart from specific doctrinal issues it dealt with, tackled also issues bordering on finding ways to strengthen the members of the Roman Catholic Church, whose majority was the lay members.
The aim of the Council was for the good of the entire Church. The pastoral concern of the Council of Trent indirectly concerned the non-ordained persons since good pastors could give better pastoral attention to the laity in order to make them good disciples of Christ. In this sense, the Tridentine interest was to bring about reform of the clergy and the laity. Some of the non-clerical members of the Church were present at the council and it was regarded as the total participation of the members of the Church at an ecumenical council, though there were some initial moves to exclude lay persons from taking part.
One significant influence that the Council of Trent left in the life of the Church was its emphasis on the study and the use of the Bible. Trent considered clearly the Bible more central to the Christian life and eventually, this Tridentine emphasis influenced the repositioning of the laity in the Church. The lay persons were seen as disqualified to make good use of Scriptures since they lacked adequate education. Some of the Council Fathers at Trent argued that the lay persons should have nothing to do with Biblical matters because they could not understand the true meaning of the Scriptures with their little education.
Nonetheless, vernacular versions of the Bible were already being written at the time of Trent and a good number of lay faithful were reading the Scriptures. As a consequence, the role of the laity became central to the understanding of the Church. With regard to decrees on the sacraments, Trent succeeded to enhance clerical control over the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
Remaining Faithful in Ministry: 9 Essential Convictions for Every Pastor
In other words, the laity became passive recipients of the sacraments from the ordained. Christian spirituality became centralized in the proper clerical celebration of each sacrament and the proper lay reception of each sacrament. There were many radical reforms and cultural changes during this period. These changes were partially influenced by the way the Roman Catholic Church viewed the clergy-laity issue. Many lay men and women were instrumental in the vast cultural and educational changes. The hierarchical and theological leadership could not understand these changes.
The lack of understanding on the part of the Church hierarchy was deepened with the onset of the American Revolution and French Revolution During this period of revolutions, radical changes began to be felt in the Western Church. Issues bordering on social justice and personal freedom were raised. The Church leadership found itself reacting vigorously against strong and bitter anti- clericalism which accompanied the European forms of these revolutions. There was much emphasis on the inalienable rights of the individual and the issue of discipleship received renewed attention.
The Church leadership became very defensive and it made attempts to kick against any anti- clerical move in the Church.
There was also a rise of lay movements during this period and as such, the struggle between the lay leadership and the clerical dominance heightened. Catholic lay movements were strongly formed. Such movements were both local and international and they were regarded as an essential part of the Church. The members of these groups which were lay people focused their attention on gospel discipleship.