Photo by Unsplash.
Photo by Unsplash.

“Blessed are we who hear the word of God. Who hear the word of God and keep it. Let us then receive what we now hear. Believe what we receive and become what we believe.” 

Those powerful words from the song “Blest Are We,” by Vince Ambrosetti, are a reminder that God is always speaking to us. We simply have to listen. And when we do, wonderful things happen. 

God doesn’t call us on the phone or send us a text message. Instead, God speaks to us in many different ways. Perhaps during prayer in a quiet and peaceful time the solution to a problem suddenly comes to mind. On a broader scale, perhaps significant events, growing concerns or crisis situations are God’s way of calling us to action. 

One important vision of Church calls each of us to continue the mission of Jesus Christ here on Earth. We do this by using special gifts and talents we receive from God. Gifts that make us uniquely different from anyone else. 

God also sends the Holy Spirit to help us use our wonderful gifts and talents, but only if we choose to do so. Sometimes, we need encouragement or a little nudge to use those gifts and talents in a positive manner.  

This encouragement comes to those who hear the word of God. By taking a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we become more open to hear His words. This quiet time gives us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how, in some small way, we can make a difference. As the Christophers say: “If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be.” 

God speaks to us in many different ways. Maybe it’s noticing that, at Sunday Eucharist, the same lectors appear week after week. Perhaps you have thought that one of your gifts is that you are a good reader. Is God gently suggesting you might wish to ask the pastor if another lector would be helpful? 

God’s message to us is also communicated on a broader level. In our Diocese and throughout America we are seeing a significant reduction in the number of priests. Our clergy are retiring faster than new priests are being ordained. What message could God possibly be sending?  

Could it be that this is a message that all of us need to become more involved in our own parish communities? Instead of simply attending Sunday Eucharist, what can we do to help make our parish a truly caring Catholic community? Could part of this message be a call for the laity to become more active and involved in their parishes? 

Lay ministry is a wonderful way for the laity to continue Christ’s mission, in their own special way, through public activity authorized by the church. Lay ministry is not meant to supplement or change the functions and responsibilities of the clergy or religious. It does not require special theological training or years of preparation. It is simply letting the Holy Spirit channel your unique gifts and talents, so that you, in your wonderfully special way, can enhance the spiritual life of your parish community. 

There are myriad opportunities for lay ministry in every parish. Pastors can help by speaking about lay ministry from the pulpit and encouraging parishioners to reflect on their unique gifts and talents and how they can be used to make the parish a more caring Catholic community. 

Faith is our strongest emotion. Making a commitment to lay ministry is expanding our faith. We are not simply volunteering to help out, but making a faith commitment to continue Christ’s ministry here on Earth. That is why those who choose to make this commitment are called lay ministers. If we are prepared to listen, God will certainly speak to us. We do, however, need to listen carefully, as his words always seem to ring loudest in ­silence. 

James O’Brien has been a member of St. Mary’s/Crescent parish in Waterford for 50 years, is the former parish council president and current chairperson for the parish’s Re-Igniting Our Faith campaign.