Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called.
Finally confreres should teach clerics and laity to work together and to support one another in the process of forming a Christian community.
The unity between all the faithful, but especially between the hierarchy and the laity, is the Church’s greatest work. Jesus so deeply desired this unity to become a reality that he prays that all might be one. The sign of this unity in faith and love is the cooperation that exists between the clergy and the laity, as they work together in a common cause. Vincent placed great emphasis on the continual search for deeper unity between all Christians. He sent his missionaries to various dioceses and told them to obey the bishops, to do nothing against their will.
1. A Firm and Living Testimony to Jesus
Today, this collaboration between the clergy and the laity is an explicit demand of the Church’s teaching. In our own ministry it is urgent that we participate in this task of forming and reconciling the clergy and the laity, so that the work of charity might continue to be promoted:
Ministers of the Church should greatly value this arduous apostolate of the laity. They should so train them as members of Christ that they become conscious of their responsibility for all people. They should instruct them in the mystery of Christ, teach them practical techniques, and help them in their difficulties. An so while both pastors and laity each retain their own special functions and obligations, the renewed Church will bear a simple, living, strong witness to Christ, that it might become a bright token of that salvation which comes to us in Christ1.
2. An Attitude of Family Ought to Characterize the Relations Between Laity and Clergy
We do not have to wait to see the fruits of this mutual collaboration between clergy and laity. Indeed, these efforts begin to bear fruit as soon as we take on the role of instruments of unity. Vatican II points out some of these results:
Many benefits for the Church are to be expected from this familiar relationship between the laity and their pastors. The laity’s sense of their own responsibility is strengthened, their zeal is encouraged, they are more ready to unite their energies to the work of their pastors. The latter, helped by the experience of the laity, are in a position to judge more clearly and more appropriately in spiritual as well as in temporal matters. Strengthened by all her members, the Church can thus more effectively fulfill her mission for the life of the world2.
3. Servants of the Ecclesial Community
Even though the ministry of the clergy and the laity are different and distinct, nevertheless, the work of evangelization demands unity of heart among all the faithful:
One cannot, however, forget or neglect the fact that the laity can also feel themselves called, and be called, to work with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community, for its growth and life. They exercise a wide variety of ministries that the Lord is pleased to give them through grace and charisms. We cannot but experience a great inner joy when we see so many pastors, religious and lay people fired with their mission to evangelize, seeking ever more suitable ways to proclaim the Gospel effectively. We encourage the openness which the Church is showing today in this direction and with this solicitude. It is an openness to meditation first of all, and then to ecclesial ministries capable of renewing and strengthening the evangelizing vigor of the Church3.
- Do I form and animate the clergy and the laity to work together in teams?
- As I serve the ecclesial community, do I collaborate with the clergy and the laity in the realization of common goals?
- Am I an instrument of unity in apostolic endeavors?
Lord, we who share in the sacraments of Christ ask you to renew the gift of holiness in your Church. May all who glory in the name “Christian” come to serve you in the unity of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen4.