The ‘How’ and ‘What’ of Lay Leadership: Action – Put on Christ

Encounter 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches
Midwest-Cleveland, OH – September 20 – 23, 2012
East-Hillsborough, NJ – October 11-14, 2012
West-Los Angeles, CA – November 1-4, 2012

This is a real-time transcription of the welcome address at the Eastern Encounter 2012 (November 3rd) by Deacon Sabatino Roberto Carnazzo of the Institute of Catholic Culture. Although it has been reviewed, it may contain errors, for which the webmaster unreservedly apologizes.

Today, the Church faces a crisis in leadership. No, this crisis is not a crisis in vocations to the priesthood, nor is it a crisis in strong leadership from our bishops. This crisis is a crisis of the laity. Lay leadership and its place in the community of Christ is an essential characteristic of the Church. Without it, the faith risks becoming a relic of the past.

In this lecture, participants will examine this important issue facing the Church today, discover the Biblical model for its correction, and explore unique opportunities our Eastern Catholic Churches have to reignite the faith of believers and restore our parishes with the flame of apostolic spirit. Bring your Bibles for this challenging study of God’s plan for the future of our Church!

Deacon Sabatino asked for a show of hands on who brought a Bible. He said electronics don’t count, recounting how he was beside the See of Galilee when the tour guide pulled out his phone to read to them from the Gospels only to find the phone battery was dead. When only a small fraction had a hard-copy Bible, he said we are at a leadership conference for the laity. “If you do not carry your Bible with you, we might as well close up shop!” He encouraged everyone to always carry a Bible and to see the blessings and opportunities God would supply because of it.

Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, all authority in heaven and earth have been given to me.

  • He could have asked for anything at this point. The risen Lord appearing before His disciples! And what does he ask of them? Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.
  • He invited them at that moment to become leaders.

Lay Leadership

  • is not a band-aid that Vatican II has applied to a sick church
  • is not an answer to the vocations crisis
  • is not saying parish councils can hire and fire
  • What is it and why do we do it?

A leader

  • Has to lead someone
  • Has to lead somewhere
  • Has to have something—a purpose, some knowledge, a place to go—that his people cannot have without him
  • Steps out of the way once his job is done so the people he’s taught can now do the same

1 Corinthians 4:15: For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

  • Why be followers of Paul not Christ?

Galations 2:20: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me

1 Corinthians 4:17: For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son…

  • Just as Christ showed Paul and Paul showed Timothy, Paul now sends Timothy to show others
  • A good father rejoices in the fact that his son has grown up and become what he intended him to be.

A distinction–that is helpful, not oppositional—is to be made between the clergy and the laity.

  • When I was clothed in my diaconal robes, I was not stripped of my baptismal robes.
  • An opposition between the clergy and laity “reduces the laity to the status of second-class citizens, defined primarily in negative terms as those who ‘do not have the right’ to enter certain places, to touch certain things or to take part in certain activities.” As Fr. Alexander Schmemann says in The Eucharist
  • The apostolic tradition gives us a positive example of what the people are supposed to do, not a negative one of what they are restricted from doing.

Just as there were three main views of Christ when He lived among us, there are 3 main views of the Church:

  1. Man on the street—newspaper reader
  2. Astute viewer—the woman who finds God in her baklava at the festival
  3. The view of faith

Question: Who founded the Church and when?

  • Jesus on Pentecost?
  • Jesus when He changed Simon’s name to Peter?
  • When the soldier pierced Jesus’ side and blood and water flowed out?
  • Wrong, wrong, and wrong!
  • The church was already present in figure at the creation of the world!
  • We need to return to the beginning.

Genesis 1: 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good…
26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good….

God is creator.

  • Not a clockwork god of the deist.
  • Not the all-powerful will requiring the submission of the Muslim.
  • Moses says our God is intimately involved in His creation: “And God saw that it was good.” “…very good.”
  • This is God’s relationship to His creation.
  • To see something as good is to see it as desirable, to want it for yourself. When that desire is properly oriented, we call it love.
  • As married people know, when you give your life to another, there is literally nothing left to give.
  • It is good that you are. Very good. How wonderful that you exist.
  • God the creator of the world desires to share Himself with his creation.

Principle: What is last in execution is always first of intention.

  • When you want to do something important, you have to prepare for it.
    • When you bake a cake, you first have to get the water, the mixing bowls, etc. The cake itself comes last.
  • God made paradise for man.

Man is made in the image and likeness of God.

  • We are made in the image and likeness of a creator who loves his creation into existence.
  • It is God who in the act of creation anticipated all conceivable human love and said: I will you to be; it is good, “very good” (Genesis 1:31), that you exist. He has already infused everything that human beings can love and affirm, goodness along with existence, and that means lovability and affirmability. Human love, therefore, is by its nature and must inevitably be always an imitation and a kind of repetition of this perfected and, in the exact sense of the word, creative love of God. –Josef Pieper in “Faith, Hope, Love”

Principle: Action follows upon being.

  • What a thing is determines what it does.
  • What a thing does points to what it is.

What is it God told man to do?

  • Be fruitful and multiply: What God started when He made me, I now participate in and perpetuate by being fruitful.
  • Till and keep the garden: God puts us here to bring his harvest to fruition.
  • Have dominion over the kingdom: Who has dominion? A king. What does the king do? Unites and serves. A society working together is strong.

The reason our economy is now in the greatest recession since the 1930s is because those in the place of the King of Glory are not acting like their creator.

And as the form follows upon the gradual working of the stone, at first somewhat indistinct, but more perfect after the completion of the work, so too in the moulding of its instrument the form of the soul is expressed in the substratum, incompletely in that which is still incomplete, perfect in that which is perfect; indeed it would have been perfect from the beginning had our nature not been maimed by evil./em> -St. Gregory of Nyssa< What exactly is man’s goal according to God’s plan?

  • What is last in execution is always first of intention. Man was made the crown jewel of God’s creation, but the story doesn’t end with man’s creation. There was a 7th day.
  • When God rested on the 7th day, he blessed creation and sanctified it. He made creation holy.
  • Man was made in the image and likeness of the one who blessed and sanctified creation.
  • Man has a vocation to now bless and sanctify creation in God’s image and likeness.
  • We have to go out into the world and lead others to God.
  • In this way, creation is divinized.

It is our job to go out into the world to make it more like Him.

  • Moses was shining when he came down from the mountain so they no longer saw Moses, but saw God when they looked on him.

The fall was so destructive because the one who was to have dominion did not bring things to order, but to disorder.

Do not call Jesus Christ your savior unless you know what He saved you from.

  • He restored us to the way it was in the beginning so that we would become divinized.
  • Just like Nicodemus couldn’t understand Jesus without being born again (re: John 3), we can’t understand Him unless we see it through the lens of baptism.
  • Nicodemus didn’t get baptized and Jesus tells him he must return with faith.

John said in Romans 6: 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

1 Corinthians 12:14ff: For the body is not one member, but many….

  • Look at a human body and you can figure out what the church is like. If we were all priests, where would the church of Christ be? On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensible.

Ephesians 4: 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

  • Each part is dependent on the others.
  • If your churches are not living, Fathers, we’ve got to ask ourselves if we’re pumping the Holy Spirit into them.
  • When you sin, I suffer. When I do good, you benefit.

This is the New Evangelization and true leadership.

  • Galatians 3:26: For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. 28There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.
  • God became man so that man might become a god. -St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation 54:3
  • Then let us rejoice and give thanks that we are made not only Christians, but Christ. Do you understand, brothers, and apprehend the grace of God upon us? Marvel, be glad, we are made Christ. -St Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John 21:8

You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

  • Who is the light of the world? Christ is.
  • We must shine His light.
  • If our society doesn’t have salt and light in it, if it is not tasty, it is because we have not brought His salt and light.

Acts 3:1:Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

  • Peter says he doesn’t have money, but will give what he does have, and healed the man.
  • What only God can do (healing) has become the inheritance of all men.
  • We cannot use leadership as our own because it is a gift.
  • People will die and God’s life will cease to be proclaimed if we don’t do our part.
  • We cannot lord our leadership over others.

Have we ever really become disciples?

  • The first step is metanoia.
  • Without metanoia, we’ll lead people astray instead of leading them to God.

John 1:28: These things were done in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man who is become before me: for he was before me. 31And I knew him not; but that he should be made manifest to Israel, for this cause came I baptizing in water.

32And John bare witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon him. 33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit. 34And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.

35Again on the morrow John was standing, and two of his disciples; 36and he looked upon Jesus as he walked, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God! 37And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? And they said unto him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), where abideth thou? 39He saith unto them, Come, and ye shall see. They came therefore and saw where he abode; and they abode with him that day: it was about the tenth hour.

  • John knew the exact circumstances of his conversion, right down to the hour of the day.
  • It’s time for us to reclaim that phrase Protestants love to say: “I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.”
  • We should have a testimony like John’s.

What’s stopping us from acting as disciples?

Clergy are plagued by the “Me First” Syndrome

  • Are we, clergy, treating our churches as St. Paul would tell us “as our spouses for whom we’d lay down our lives” or are we treating them as concubines?
  • A test for clergy in order to answer the above question can be found in Colossians 1:24ff: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…
  • Do you rejoice in suffering for the sake of the church or do you just complain?

Laity are plagued by the “My Real Estate” Syndrome

  • That’s my job.
  • We’ve never done it that way before.

We must give to others what God has given to us.

  • Paul rejoiced that his son Timothy could do what Paul did.

Stop pointing the finger at others and take responsibility.

  • Is your parish a geriatric ward or a growing family?
  • Most of our parishes have 30-100 people on Sunday. Laity: you know who you stand next to. If you know the person you stand next to wasn’t at church, did you go knock on their door or give them a call?
  • Clergy: if you know your parishioners are going to the Latin Church or to a Protestant Church, go stand in front of the doors of that church and wait for them and invite them back.
  • Pray with them, eat with them, live with them, and then they’ll die with you.
  1. Pray
    • We better put Jesus back in the center of our churches—domestic and liturgical!
    • The average American has a TV in the center of the family room and spends 2.7 hours watching it each day.
    • If you don’t have an icon of Christ, go right now and get one, get a nail, and hang it up. Not in some obscure place, but right in the middle of the living room. Better yet, get a lampada and a censor to go with it. Now!
  2. Fast
    • Don’t wait for the Church to tell you to fast.
    • Obligation was left behind in Judaism. Fasting is an opportunity.
    • Sin causes us to focus on ourselves while fasting focuses on others.
  3. Tithe
    • Do not be one who stretches out his hand to receive but withdraws it in giving. Give a ransom for your sins if you have it to give. Do not hesitate to give, nor give in a grumbling manner, for you know who is the good Paymaster who rewards? –Didache
    • I know times are tough. I hear you say you can’t afford to tithe. You can’t afford not to. That goes for the clergy as well. Yes, it is hard. Do it and God will supply what you need.
  4. Education
    • You cannot give what you do not have.
    • You cannot teach what you do not know.

Adult Formation

  • He used to teach children’s Sunday School. His assessment: What he did in 1hr of Sunday School was unraveled the rest of the week because of the family life and culture.
  • We need to reach the parents so they’re continuing the work through the week.
  • Our current adult programs are culturally oriented, not intellectually oriented
  • We fill our churches for festivals, but not for Bible studies.
  • Play to your strengths! We are culturally rich! If that’s all you have, get up and in the middle of BINGO and preach for 5 minutes, then let the people go back to their games.
  • Our parishes are geographically spread out, yes. But we have other Eastern Catholic parishes nearby. We have to work together!
  • Adult education is expensive. His program has an annual budget of a quarter million. As Bishop Nicholas (Samra) has said: “How much do we spend to spread the Gospel?”
  • Secularism is bankrupt. We have the answer they’re hungry for. Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are ripe for the harvest.