Vatican II's True Vision for Lay Activity

   Vatican II's vision for the laity to be active is more than being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and an Alter Server for example.  These services are beautiful, but is not the complete vision of the Council. Vatican II's complete vision on lay activity can be broken down to two areas:

  1. lay ministry (service roles in parishes and programs of the Church)
  2. lay apostolate (carrying Gospel values out into the world)
Examples of Lay Ministry Activities Examples of Lay Apostolate Activities
  • enthusiastically responding to the prayers during Mass
  • doing the gestures during Mass reverently and piously (e.g., kneeling and standing)
  • silent reflective prayer before, during and after Mass
  • spending time with Jesus at Mass and at Eucharistic Adoration (Luke 10:38-42; Matthew 26:36-45)
  • offering yourself as a sacrifice to Christ at Mass
  • enthusiastically singing the songs during Mass
  • praying pious devotions for the conversion of souls
  • being a Lector at Mass
  • being a member of the parish council
  • being a CCD teacher
  • being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (Note to Viewers: Extraordinary Ministers are done in the Roman Rite for extraordinary circumstances.)
  • being an Alter Server




  • bringing the authentic Teaching of the Catholic Church to all areas of the secular realm (e.g., work life and family life), so that souls may be drawn to Jesus
  • volunteering at a St. Vincent de Paul Society soup kitchen
  • volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center
  • working at a Catholic book store
  • working at a Catholic radio station
  • being a professor at a Catholic educational institute
  • creating a personal web site to teach people about the Catholic faith
  • Catholic speakers who travel around the globe giving lectures on the Faith



    To understand the concept of lay ministry and lay apostolate even more, I recommend reading the book MINISTRY OR APOSTOLATE by Russell Shaw, which does a beautiful job in elaborating in greater detail the distinction between the two forms of lay activity. I also recommend examining the following resources for more information as well.

The resources are:

    Lastly, the laity needs to remember that in order for them to fully live out their role within the Church and the world, they must remember that obedience to bishops, priests, and deacons who are in unison with the Magisterium is necessary! Only through obedience to the clergy will the laity be successful in living out their role within the Church and the world.