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What is a Lay Associate?
Throughout the history of the Church, lay people have felt called to associate themselves with the life and ministry of various communities of priests and religious. In becoming a ‘lay associate’, they embrace the vision and spirituality of some particular community but in the lay state.
All of us are called to be disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. At our baptism we were made members of His Body, the Church. All of us share in the glory of being “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Pet 2:9). We have received special gifts from the Holy Spirit to use for the building up the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12).
The laity live out their vocation in the secular arena. By virtue of their Baptism, they are called to “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 31.2).
From the beginning, Fr. Bob Bedard, our spiritual father in Christ, recognized the indispensable dignity and role of the laity in the renewal of the Church. For this reason, the Companions of the Cross joyfully welcome lay people who desire to associate themselves with us.
A Lay Associate is a lay person who has embraced, through a formal commitment, the spirituality and mission of the Companions of the Cross.
The laity “have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth.”
– CCC 900
Our Spirituality and Mission
Spurred on by the love of God, we desire all people to come into the fullness of life through a personal and ongoing encounter with Jesus Christ.
God has called us to labour boldly for the renewal of the Church through a dynamic evangelization centered upon Christ crucified, who is God’s power and wisdom (cf. 1 Cor 1:23-24).
Concretely this entails:
Trust in the Lord
Trust in the Lord and give him permission to move as he pleases. Seek his wisdom, his ‘now’ word, and wait upon it, with proper discernment, not making any major moves without it.
Profound Openness to the Holy Spirit
Be open to the Holy Spirit, the power of God, and the various ministry gifts through which the Church is empowered. God desires to touch and inflame the lives of all his people.
Renewal of the person and the Church
Personal conversion, discipleship, empowerment, and ‘calling forth’ of individuals to ministry comprise the chief strategy for renewal. Social and institutional changes will flow more easily from a renewed people. Personal conversion is the necessary first step.
Membership and Commitment
To become a Lay Associate one must be a Catholic in good standing, either married or single, at least 16 years of age, who desires to embrace the spirituality and mission of the Companions of the Cross.
The Lay Associates are not a community unto themselves but are individuals who wish to be associated with the Companions of the Cross. It is not necessary to live in geographical proximity to a Companions’ parish or other foundation.
Those interested and enquiring about the Lay Associates are asked to purchase and download Fr. Bob’s book, We Are Called to Be Companions of the Cross to prayerfully read, study, and reflect upon in order to more fully understand the mission and spirituality of the Companions of the Cross. Once having done so, and with a sincere desire to enter into association with the Companions of the Cross, they may formally enroll online as Lay Associates. This enrollment includes the commitment to embrace and live out the spirituality and mission of the Companions of the Cross, as laity in the Church, and to the support the mission and ministries of the Companions of the Cross when possible.
Living out the Commitment
A Lay Associate of the Companions of the Cross embraces a particular way of Christian discipleship which includes
- a spirituality centered on the Triumph of the Cross,
- a mission of evangelization and ongoing renewal in the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit,
- spiritual and temporal support of
the mission our community, and
- ongoing pursuit and growth in committed Christian relationships.
In order to foster a vibrant spirituality centered on Christ crucified, Lay Associates commit to the following spiritual disciplines:
- Personal prayer – Lay Associates are called to have a daily personal prayer time which should include speaking to the Lord in our own words, prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture, and a time of listening to the Lord and seeking His particular wisdom for us.
- Sacraments – Lay Associates are encouraged to participate frequently in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist to which we have a particular devotion. We urge Lay Associates to frequent reception of communion and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament when possible. We also recommend a regular celebration of the Lord’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- True devotion to Mary – Recognizing that true devotion to Mary ultimately leads us to Jesus, we venerate and honour the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen and imitate her as the model of Christian discipleship. Lay Associates are to be consecrated to Jesus through Mary and are encouraged to pray the Rosary and the Companions of the Cross Marian Entrustment prayer as a sign of this consecration.
- Fasting – Lay Associates are encouraged to undertake some form of fasting on Fridays, the day when Jesus triumphed over sin and death. Fasting from the things we enjoy unites us to the sacrifice of Jesus and fosters a more radical dependence on God.
Mission of Evangelization
Lay Associates are called to be servants of the Lord, responding to the Great Commission to bring the Gospel to all creation. For most people this ministry of evangelization will be realized in their parishes, workplaces and families, in accordance with their vocation and state in life. Where circumstances allow, we are open to collaborative efforts of evangelization and outreach with our Lay Associates.
Support the Companions of the Cross
A Lay Associate supports the Companions of the Cross in two principle ways: spiritually and materially.
Lay Associates support us through prayers of intercession, bringing before the Lord the temporal and spiritual needs of our communities and Associates. It is a tremendous source of encouragement and hope for our priests, seminarians and sisters to know that they are being held up in daily prayer before the Lord by a large group of Lay Associates.
We also ask that Lay Associates consider making an annual contribution of some sort to the Companions of the Cross. We rely greatly upon the generosity of our Lay Associates to provide material support for our life and ministry.
Committed Christian Relationships
forms: extended family, parish small groups, prayer meetings, Bible studies, etc. Lay Associates are encouraged to participate in such groups in their local parishes. Where such opportunities are lacking, we encourage Lay Associates to form small faith sharing groups of some kind in their local area.