WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN

Evening Prayer began with a liturgical procession and also included a testimony by Pierluigi Molla, son of St. Gianna Molla.

November 12, 2012
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The Church needs to put a greater priority on the role of the laity to transform the world, Archbishop Richard Smith said Nov. 1.

Opening the fifth and final year of Nothing More Beautiful, the archbishop said the Church has rightly given considerable attention to lay ministry within the Church.

However, the amount of attention given to the lay apostolate has been "insufficient," he said. "The goal of the laity's witness and work . . . is nothing less than the transformation of the world."

Smith said the final year of Nothing More Beautiful will focus on the lay apostolate - the "sending forth" of the laity "with the life-transforming message of the Gospel."

His catechetical talk at the Nov. 1 session focused on the family as an "apprenticeship for the apostolate." Future talks will zero in on the role of the laity in evangelizing the workplace and in evangelizing the social and political order.

Each session of Nothing More Beautiful at St. Joseph's Basilica is centred around the celebration of Evening Prayer (Vespers). As well, a bishop is invited to give a catechetical talk on some aspect of the faith and a layperson gives a personal testimony related to the theme of the catechesis.

Giving the witness talk Nov. 1 was Pierluigi Molla, the eldest child of St. Gianna Molla, an Italian physician who refused an abortion to remove a tumour during her fourth pregnancy, knowing that without the abortion she would likely die.

WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN

Deacon Carlos Nunez incenses the congregation during Evening Prayer at the Nov. 1 session of Nothing More Beautiful.

Pierluigi Molla spoke of his mother's holiness and zest for life in the years prior to her final illness and death in 1962. "Her life and witness is an invitation to rediscover the Christian love of life and the joy of maternity," he said.

(The full text of Pierluigi Molla's talk is on Pages 10 to 12.)

In his talk, Smith spoke of how families give glory to God and how they prepare their members for lives of loving service.

"Spouses give glory to God when they place Jesus at the centre of their life together and accept in faith the mission that is theirs," he said. "By loving one another unconditionally, by forgiving one another whenever there is hurt, and by being fully open to the gift of life, they mirror Christ's love and give glory to God."

FAMILIES GLORIFY GOD

Families also give glory to God when they pray together and seek to know the Gospel, he said.

While parents are the first teachers of the faith, the most important way they teach is through the witness of their lives, he said.

The archbishop also said families model Christ's loving service through their real presence to each other and by giving themselves in service to each other.

Relationships in society are becoming not real but virtual to a greater and greater degree, he said. "Virtual presence deepens our sense of anonymity even as we connect with others. Real presence affirms that I am known and that I matter."

Said Smith: "It is in the family that relationships must be real, not virtual."

Real presence, he continued, leads to giving oneself in service to others.

This dedication to service is most apparent in the life of Jesus whose death "was his obedient self-gift to the Father for the sake of the world."

SCHOOL OF FORGIVENESS

The laity, he said, must confront those realities that stand in the way of selfless loving - selfishness and the refusal to forgive. The family is the place where we learn to give of ourselves for others and to forgive others.

"Hurts that occur in the family are the deepest of all, because they are brought about by people we love. But it is that very love that enables us to forgive."

(The text of Archbishop Smith's talk will be published in next week's WCR.)

(The next session of Nothing More Beautiful will be held Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. The catechist will be Calgary Bishop Fred Henry and the lay witness will be Sara Michel, Alberta-Mackenzie animator for Development and Peace.)