Since 1965 the number of priests in the United States has fallen by some 30,000 at the same time the number of Catholics has risen by about 20 million. And over that same time period, more than 30,000 laypeople have come into the employ of parishes and other Church institutions. Laypeople have stepped up to serve in a variety of new ministries, and they are relieving their pastors of many administrative burdens, enabling them to focus on their priestly duties. These laypeople are serving as marriage counselors, financial advisers, liturgical directors and missionaries to the community. Lay teachers now outnumber nuns, brothers, and priests in Catholic schools by at least 19 to 1. In the history of the Church, laypeople have never been asked to do so much and the opportunities for spiritual fulfillment have never been so great. But they also may benefit from some guidance in order to live out their unique calling in the church.
Businessman and philanthropist William E. Simon Jr. and theologian Michael Novak call attention to this great shift in Living the Call. The first part of the book tells the personal stories of nine faithful laypeople now serving the Church in new and diverse ways. How did they find their calling? What do their roles demand of them? How do they serve their communities? These new roles need new knowledge and a new kind of nurturing. In response to this need, the second part of Living the Call offers practical advice and reflections. How can we enter the presence of God? What are the different forms of prayer we can learn to refresh the mind and deepen the soul? What readings can we turn to from Scripture and the sages of the church to bring ourselves toward holiness?