Undoubtedly, for some, getting a degree in theology is exactly what God wants. Some might be destined for the priesthood or religious life, but have not yet discovered it. They could definitely use the knowledge. There are also those, like Dr. Scott Hahn—made for academia—for whom advanced studies in theology are a must. Then, there are many other lay people who thrive as catechists, leading an apostolate or an evangelization effort. For them also, advanced theology studies might come in handy. However, if the entire body of the laity in the Catholic Church were to dedicate their lives to study the Faith, at the academic level, many of us simply would not have time to be true to what is asked of us lay people.
Let me be clear—it is fundamental that the laity have a relationship with Christ and his Church, through the frequent reception of the sacraments. We must also be part of a parish community and be of service to it whenever possible. But having a burning passion for the faith and love for God does not necessarily equate to altering one’s live or career, resulting in turning all lay Catholics into aspiring theologians. I am also not refuting every Catholic’s need and responsibility for continuous formation in the Faith.
But doesn’t the Church also need doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, accountants, nurses, engineers, social workers, communicators, and educators who see their professional field as mission territory? I lead a Catholic organization that seeks to redirect the average lay Catholic mind, particularly that of lay people in the professional world. We need to start thinking differently about the most effective way the laity can serve God and His Church.
What if there were more committed lay Catholics in the professional world? Catholics are already present everywhere from the most remote corners of society all the way up to highest spheres of power. The Catholic population in the world is now over 1.3 billion! But let’s face it—what we don’t have are enough faithful Catholics.
Often, when lukewarm Catholics have an experience of encountering or re-encountering Christ, their first instinct is to drop everything to become a full-time minister—hence the aspiring theologians. What hasn’t occurred to some of those coming back to the Catholic faith is that our legislative systems, our public healthcare, the mass media, our schools and universities are crying out for more faithful lay Catholic leadership! It still has not dawned on many lay Catholic professionals that there are institutions and places in society that our beloved priests, bishops and even the Pope cannot influence the way we the laity can. But what does that mean in practice? How does a lay Catholic professional sanctify the world? Those are some of the questions our TLI program answers.
So, the question I leave you with is… In a world where some doctors and politicians are no longer defending the dignity of all human beings; some teachers, pastors and even parents are violating the innocence of the children under their care; and science continuously defies the designs of God, making the human person a means instead of the end of its work… In this the world of frequent mass-shootings and terrorist attacks, in such a world as we live today… Where does a lay Catholic professional have the most potential to support the mission of the Church, influence the culture, and serve the common good? After all, we can’t all be theologians.
Please comment below… how do you serve the Church as a lay Catholic professional in the secular world?