The people of God as ‘leaven in the world’

Former Australian YCW national chaplain, Fr Jim Monaghan, now the parish priest of Port Augusta as well as vicar general of Port Pirie Diocese has kindly allowed us to publish his intervention at the Second Assembly of the Australian Plenary Councilin support of Motion 6.2 on formation.

Our Plenary process gives due attention – timely attention – to the renewal of the inner life of the church. Complementing the inner life, Motion 6.2, especially paragraph e, provides the opportunity to consider the work of Christ in the world beyond the church. Jesus prayed that the kingdom would come, on earth as it is in heaven. He understood the priority of feeding the hungry, a living wage for casual labourers, visiting the prisoners, and welcoming the stranger.

Point e of paragraph 83 cites Lumen Gentium – the faithful people of God as the “leaven in the world”. The spiritual gifts of clergy, religious and lay ministers within the church are properly revered; but the world of daily life is properly – and precisely – the apostolic province of the faithful people of God, known traditionally as the lay people. Without well-formed lay apostles, the very world which God loved so much will remain substantially in darkness.

How to form these lay apostles?

Paragraph 81 beautifully describes the Review of Life method, for formation for the disciples of Jesus Christ. Seeing a situation as it truly is, and judging it with the heart and mind of Jesus, ordinary working people help each other to discern actions to transform each situation to more closely resemble the Kingdom of God.

Reflecting on actions taken in hope, the people of God grow in understanding of the action of the Holy Spirit in their own hearts, and they discover their faith. Father Joseph Cardijn referred to this as the Double Transformation. Speaking of young workers, he noted how when you work to transform the world into the kingdom which God always intended, you yourself are transformed, and you discover the irreplaceable vocation of redeeming the world around you.

Wages too low to put food on the table and pay the rent; parents unable to cope with the pressures of life; the potentially destructive effect of devices upon families; not enough houses, even in a rich country like ours; the over-incarceration of our Aboriginal peoples; a suicide rate leading the world. And this is just in Australia, let alone the countries of our region. The world around us needs the leadership of skilled, formed and faithful Catholics now more than ever, and the church must enable for them the most effective possible formation. And it all starts from your daily life.

I urge you to support this motion, and not to wait for anyone’s permission to put it into action.

Fr Jim Monaghan


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