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Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic

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Bishop discusses laity and how it impacts culture at Legatus gathering

News of the Diocese

February 29, 2024

Bishop discusses laity and how it impacts culture at Legatus gathering

“The reason Legatus exists is for you all to be ambassadors for Christ and his Church in the world as lay men and women making an impact on culture as missionary disciples,” Bishop Edward Malesic told members and guests of the Cleveland Chapter of Legatus. The group gathered Feb. 21 at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe for Mass, dinner and a presentation from the bishop.

Also attending (and serving the dinner) were several diocesan seminarians including Anthony Donatelli, son of Legatus members Tony and Erin Donatelli, and Father Patrick Schultz. Father Schultz, parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Wadsworth, is chaplain for the Cleveland Legatus chapter.

Founded in 1999, the Cleveland Chapter of Legatus is part of a network of 95 chapters with more than 5,000 members in the United States and Canada. Members are Catholic business people, many of whom are presidents or CEOs of companies, and who desire to be more involved in their faith, including living their Catholicism through their business and professional lives. The term legatus is derived from the Latin word for a someone who acts as an ambassador or emissary.

The bishop’s talk focused on “The Role of the Laity in Impacting Culture.”

He reminded the group that they are called by their baptism and sealed by their confirmation to take the Gospel out into the world. He offered encouragement for their mission using four primary sources: Scripture, liturgy, documents of the Second Vatican Council and the catechism of the Catholic Church.

Reflecting first on Scripture, he said during his sermon on the mount, Jesus told his disciples they are salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Mt 5:13)

“As Christian laity, your mission is to be salt. Your job is to season the world with faith, hope and love, with temperance, courage, charity and prudence and with the witness of your very life,” the bishop said. “Just as when you add some salt to a soup or sauce, it brings out the flavors, when a Christian enters the world, his life or her life ought to make the world better,” he added.

He also reminded them the Jesus said they are the light of the world. Light is intended to shine through the darkness and our light must shine before others so that they can see the good deeds we do and glorify the heavenly father, the bishop added.

“A Catholic Christian is not supposed to be invisible in the world, keeping a low profile and keeping his faith to himself or herself. The opposite is true,” Bishop Malesic said.

He also talked about the non-competitive natures of salt, light and leaven (yeast), explaining that each has a role: salt for seasoning and flavor; light allows us to see in the darkness and leavening (yeast) for raising dough and giving it life.

“Remember, God is not in competition with his creation (us). God is a self-sufficient community of persons in the Holy Trinity. He’s never lonely. He didn’t create us out of need, he created us out of love. And God never stopped loving us,” he said.

“Go, make disciples of all nations by being salt, light and leaven. That, my friends is how Catholic Christians – according to Scripture – are to impact culture.”

Focusing on liturgy, the bishop mentioned the ongoing Eucharistic Revival, recalling how Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost says “The liturgy makes us who we are.”

“We are sinners in need of God’s love and mercy … Then we listen to God’s word and eventually feed on his body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist,” Bishop Malesic said.

Participation in the Mass is for our salvation, but it is both a personal and communal matter as we are supposed to become what we receive. At the end of Mass, we are told to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

The role of a priest is to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus during the Mass and to bring Jesus to the people.

“Your job (as laity) is to consecrate the world. When you leave Mass, your job is to glorify the Lord by your lives wherever you live and move and have your being. You, and you alone, can make Christ present there,” the bishop said. He also reminded the group of the power of prayer.

Regarding Vatican II, which began in 1960, it continues to unfold in the Church. Generally, it takes about a century for a council like Vatican II to settle in, he said. However, the documents are available for examination.

In the document on The Church, Lumen Gentium, a chapter is devoted to the role of the laity in the Church.

“The laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which ever web of their existence is woven,” the document reads.

“The role of the laity is to bring God to the world,” the bishop said. “Do you know that you have been commissioned by the Lord himself for missionary activity?”

Bishop discusses laity and how it impacts culture at Legatus gathering

He encouraged the Legatus members to think of all the business interactions they have and to ponder how they could make the Church present and operative in those situations. “How do you sanctify those spaces so God’s grace can move in them?” he asked.

Quoting again from Lumen Gentium, he said, “The faithful, therefore, must learn the deepest meaning and the value of all creation and how to relate it to the praise of God. They must assist one another to live holier lives, even in their daily occupations. In this way, the world is permeated by the spirit of Christ and more effectively achieves its purpose in justice, charity and peace. The laity have the principle role in the universal world fulfillment of this purpose.”

Emphasizing this passage, the bishop said, “You must assist one another to live holier lives. Dare I say, this is the challenge of Legatus?”

Finally, he reflected on the catechism of the Church, which focuses on the three offices of Christ as priest, prophet and king.

In their priestly office, the laity are called to make their lives a sacrifice to the Lord.

In the role of prophet, the voice of lay people matters. “You need to speak up in the work place and your parish,” the bishop said.

The kingly office is especially important for business owners because it deals with leadership and governance – how they run their businesses. “It is up to you to see that your own lives and everything in them is directed to God’s reign. That means that just as your lives are to glorify God and be in harmony with his will, so too, should all your temporal affairs. In other words, your businesses and the way you govern them should give witness to the glory of God,” Bishop Malesic said.

For more information on Legatus, click here.

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