The Study of Church History-5

Another great change that was called for during the Second Vatican council was the call for greater participation of the laity in all aspects of living the faith. In my admittedly limited knowledge of history, clericalism was something that slowly build up over time and reached a high point after the Council of Trent. When the reformers denied the necessity of sacramental orders and emphasized instead the common priesthood of all believers, the Catholic Church went out of its way to emphasized the importance of the clerical state of life to the detriment, it is my understanding, of the dignity of the laity. The general feeling I get is that the ordained status was the ideal, and that the laity (along with marriage) was second best. Again, the Second Vatican Council sought to reverse this mentality, and called for a renewal of the role of the laity, calling for a “conscious, active, and fruitful” participation (Sacrosanctum Concilium #14-20). The document Lumen Gentium addresses the disparity in a point of view that emphasizes the call of the clergy by reminding us that both clergy and laity have the common call to sanctity (Lumen Gentium #32 ). This call has resulted in a great number of lay movements such as Communion and Liberation, the Neocatechumenate, and many others. The role of history in dealing with changes such as this is that it helps us recognize that the present situation is a result of, a development of previous events. Developments can be for better or for worse, and history helps us find our way back with better understanding of our origins. Ultimately, the study of church history makes us better Christians. As we experience changes in practices, we can look at the past and realize it is not the end of the world. History is a great teacher, and it frees us to look at our past errors with humility, and to the future with the confidence that we can learn from our mistakes.

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