—A Feast for the Laity
By DOM THEODORE WESSELING, O.S.B.
VVHATEVER its historical ori gins. the Feast of All Saints has its place in the Liturgical Year as the feast of the Christian community as a whole; it celebrates Christ's achievement in redeemed mankind. This general idea is well illustrated in the Epistle where St. John describes the fullness of sanctity in the whole human commuoity by enumerating, one by one, the tribes of the old Israel, who pre-figured the tribes of the new. It is therefore natural to see in this feast not merely the solemnity of the canonised Saints and the Angels but of all sanctity that was brought to fruit in any human soul, however humble. hbwever unknown. it is for this reason that the feast pertains especially to thc Canonisation, quite naturally, goes most often to those sections of the Christian community which stand out in one way or other. But the laity do not stand out; they are not a welldefined group and it would not be easy to collect the resources necessary for canonisation in this world for an iSl). lined lay person. This. together with many other factors, gives sometimes the unfortunate impression that the layman and laywoman has no particular part to play in the great drama of redemption. Nothing could be more wrong.
There is no reason to stress the "priesthood" of the laity: this is a matter of considerable subtlety and may mislead the simple mind. There is no need for .thc laity to assimilate themselves to the sacramental priesthood of the clergy. It is precisely this sacramental priesthood which shows the unique importance and value of the laity. The priest is a mediator; but what is most important in any mediation is not the mediator but the parties to be unitcd by this mediation. That is why in the Church not only the priesthood, but all authority, is essentially a service—as Christ had said Himself clearly enough in the Gospel. Church; it does not even bother about it.
Our mainstay in this struggle for the survival of Christianity in the West, and probably throughout the i5 the hairy, art adult and mature laity. And if we want them to respond to ecclesiastical guidance we should do well to remember the basic psychological law that you do not get a wholehearted and smooth obedience. unless you have hill confidence, and that you don't get confidence unless you trust, and trust up to the hilt. This issue is worth taking a risk.
Let us hope that the laity will be allowed a free hand, free initiative and free inter-organisation. as far as can possibly be reconciled with a genuine guidance by the ecclesiastical authorities. Let them snake their own .experknees, let them look after their own finances, let them choose their own leaders and representatives. falsity, if they prove themselves to be worthy of this trust, let their advice be more often
fluid and followed. Neither in this nor in any other country can the clergy maintain that they ever were a political success. Nor is this requited of them as politics are not mentioned as one of the necessary or even useful spiritual tasks bound up with the priesthood. The Church has to face a political, social issue of decisive importance, by implication, for its continued existence as a spiritual society in a completely
secularist world. We must face this issue by meeting it on its own level: a Catholic lay-force over against a secularist and pagan lay-force.
May the laity lake courage from the Feast of All Saints. They ratty belong to the " no-medals." but their achievement, their nobility and their hidden heroisms will form one of the main strands of the great pattern of Redemption when it will be unfolded in the glory of Christ.