The importance of the laity has increased beyond all measure in recent years. If you go carefully through every single exhortation that has come from Rome under the present Pope, from his Suntan Pontificatus, his various addresses and allocutions, right up to the great Encyclicals on the Mystical Body and Holy Scripture, you will find that time and again the same theme recurs: the laity must come. to the fore.
This is obvious since the main issues with which the Church is confronted ate issues of practical everyday life in society, in the " world." There is polities, the relation between the State and the Lice human person, social justice, education, the family, international peace, and so on. These problems are essentially lay problems.
In the Mass the laity form the hulk of that populus fiats, that plebs Dri. that people of God who offer themselves, through the priest. but still fully offering themselves to God. They are in fact so important that without assistance of any kind the priest is not allowed to say Mass at all — which proves that the Mass is far from being a private devotion for the clergy (as the manner in which some of them say it would make you think).