When I stand in front of a classroom, the reality is this: I'm on the same par with everyone out there. I am a laywoman. I am not an expert in anything, and even if I had a Doctorate in Sacramental Theology, it would not change my state in life. Knowledge is important, fidelity to Church teachings is imperative, but the reality is that those people are looking up at me at the podium and thinking, "Who the hell are YOU to tell me I have to go to Confession? Who the hell are YOU to tell us that we should not go to Communion if we've committed a sin on this list? What kind of authority do YOU have to tell me what I should and should not believe?"
Sunday, April 19, 2009
That's what I'm considering calling our blog now that I've read one of the great lay mystagogues out there, Adoro, point out the sacramental disparity between her and those consecrated to teach. "I have no authority," she claims.
My thought - if she is questioning what she is doing, what the heck are we doing? Well, she is an actual, honest to goodness catechist, so maybe she's got a higher burden. People read theological goofballs like Andy and me at their own risk. Still, that millstone will sink both the catechist and the goofball.
Okay, kidding aside, I see the difference. Imagine what would happen if we in the Church restricted the teaching of faith and morals to the ordained? I would say that 98% of the parishes out there would have to fold their formation programs. For some communities, that actually might be a good thing. But for most communities, especially the one where Adoro teaches, the message needs to be delivered inside and out by people with the mind and heart of the Church.
A cynic could also ask, as is often done, what right a priest would have to advise a person on matters of marriage. This would, of course, be an individual who doesn't believe in the charism of the priest to teach in such matters. That's the point of view most cynics take. So the priest is just as lost with them as would be any Catholic of good will.
All things equal, there is no question that the message is best delivered by the guy with the charisms. And we should push our priests and bishops to do more teaching. The role the laity plays is to echo that message far and near. There is great power in that unity. While unity is no substitute for authority, it does confirm authority to those looking for that confirmation (John 17).
So Adoro, my fellow lay mystagogue, exercise your sacramental confirmation and teach on without fear. If they find someone with actual sacramental teaching authority, are they going to hear the same thing from them that they just heard from you? Chances are that they will. And chances are, they won't know about that "teaching charism" unless YOU tell them. Save that one for the last lesson of the year.
UPDATE: Uh oh. Well, at least she hasn't read my post. I don't think so at least.