Let Faith Inform Us
Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world — G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
It was awful. Inevitable. Soul-sucking, heart-rending, doom-laden foreboding assailed me — and then, like death and taxes, fearsome fate overtook me:
The day after the Congressional midterms, the 2016 presidential election season began.
These endless campaigns are one of the most exhausting, disheartening aspects of American public life. Families are split down political lines; friends have a hard time holding civil conversations; and far too many of us treat the choice of the next president as the triumphant victory of our national savior or the awful advent of the reign of the Antichrist, instead of the cyclical election of a politician like any other: full of promises that are often unrelated to the realities of the people, politics, or feasible solutions to a given problem.
However, instead of focusing on the problem, let's seize the opportunity offered us by two years of steadily intensifying discussion of and interest in all things political. Let's use these two years to study, pray over, talk about, and live Catholic social teaching.
The USCCB lists these seven key themes of Catholic social teaching:
• Life and Dignity of the Human Person
• Call to Family, Community, and Participation
• Rights and Responsibilities
• Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
• The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
• Care for God's Creation
They offer a number of resource and links to learn more about the Church's teaching on each theme. Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, explores some key portions of the Church's social teaching in The 'One Thing' Is Three, and shares how to live the teaching in 'You Did It to Me.' Another great, easy-to-read introduction is Brandon Vogt's Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World. For religious educators and those willing to dive in at the deep end of the teaching, check out the official Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
If you've never heard of any of this, you're not alone. Catholic social teaching has been called perhaps the best-kept secret of the Church today — in an age in which there's a crying need for it to be shouted from the rooftops.
The famed activist and cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement Peter Maurin once said, "Writing about the Catholic Church, a radical writer says: 'Rome will have to do more than to play a waiting game; she will have to use some of the dynamite inherent in her message.' To blow the dynamite of a message is the only way to make the message dynamic. If the Catholic Church is not today the dominant social dynamic force, it is because Catholic scholars have failed to blow the dynamite of the Church. Catholic scholars have taken the dynamite of the Church, have wrapped it up in nice phraseology, placed it in an hermetic container and sat on the lid."
So help blow the lid off the Church's best-kept secret in these two years before Nov. 2016 — start discovering the riches of Catholic social teaching! Then share the wealth. Talk about it with your fellow parishioners, prayer group and cenacle members, your family, and your friends. While the nation ramps up to a presidential election, ramp up your prayerful study and discussions on Catholic social teaching, allowing it to shed light on the issues and the candidates in this next election, helping yourself and others discern the way forward for themselves, their communities, and the nation through the light of truth in charity. Follow the example of St. Faustina and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for our nation fervently, joining in the efforts of Mother of Mercy Messengers' Divine Mercy for America campaign.
Do it for your own sake, and for the sake of us all.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops — Mt 10:27.