The president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity made this statement Saturday during a Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran for the participants of a five-day lay ministries meeting organized by the Lay Center at Foyer Unitas in Rome, and the U.S. episcopal conference.
The conference was titled "Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: Laity in the Church Yesterday and Today."
Quoting theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Archbishop Rylko said: "To be a lay Christian in the Church is precisely a vocation, in fact, it is the most important calling.
"The uniqueness of the lay vocation consists in the fact of being a Christian while living immersed in the world."
"This vocation is derived from the sacrament of baptism," the 61-year-old prelate explained in his homily.
Archbishop Rylko stated: "The laity have their particular responsibility for the life of the Christian community in the local Church. It is an essential, great and beautiful vocation!"
He added, however, that "to be a lay Christian in the world today is not easy."
"The world tries to contain God exclusively in the private sphere of the individual," the archbishop continued, while "the appropriate autonomy of the secular order is often confused with a militant secularism that seeks to eliminate God from public life."
"To be a lay Christian in our times requires courage," the archbishop said, continuing, "because of this, it is extremely important to not forget that being Christian is a vocation: God himself calls us and sends us into the world."
Archbishop Rylko affirmed that a lay "vocation is a gratuitous gift of God, who selects us and calls us without our meriting it."