Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Social Teaching Catholics

Social Teaching Catholic: St Anthony of Padua
Fr Ray Blake has posted on what he sees as a division within Holy Church between a liberal wing which emphasises Catholic social teaching at the expense of the fullness of the Catholic Faith and an orthodox wing of the Church which emphasises the importance of good liturgy, worship and the defense of the unborn but, by implication of his reasoning, is a little indifferent to social justice. I suppose the inference of his post is that the post-Vatican II Church is confused about where Her priorities should be.

I suppose that the revolutions which exploded in the 1960s both within and without the Church have affected Her mission in the area of 'social justice' as well as in Her liturgical practises. It is not to say, of course, that the post-concilliar Church has lacked any heroic and holy men and women who have founded missions to the poor. What we can say, however, is that even some of the channels of 'caritas' in the Church's mission have been compromised because of the lack of orthodox belief held by those who organise relief to the poor.

My personal take on the sense of confusion within the Church is that as Catholics we need to look back at our roots. It seems to me that the great Saints of the Church known for their service to the poor really loved the poor. It wasn't so much that they did good deeds, it was that they loved Jesus Christ and recognised Him in the poor. St Anthony of Padua, for instance, loved the poor and saw in them the riches of the Gospel. He openly condemned the rich for withholding their money, bread and love from the poor. It is in other words, a very traditionally Catholic thing to love the poor and to desire to bring them relief. Doctors of the Church as far back as St Augustine of Hippo, St Irenaeus and St Ambrose of Milan preached and wrote on this urgent message of the Gospel and that our very salvation depended on what we do for the poor.  St Vincent de Paul was famed for caring for the poor. St Martin of Porres the same. My holy patron saw the poor as the true 'treasures of the Church'. St Elizabeth of Hungary is famed for her care for the poor and hungry.

The problem arises, I suspect, when the Church's message becomes distorted. All of the Saints known for their great love for the poor were great lovers of Jesus Christ. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta loved the poor because in them she saw Christ Crucified. The Doctors of the Church often urged us to be kind to the poor because we should be generous to God. Saints believed kindness to the poor was necessary for our salvation. There is no need, really, for a division in the Church on the issue of social justice. It should not be controversial for a traditional Catholic to be generous to the poor. It should be preached openly that Our Lord made it categorically clear that we will be judged on our response to the poor and destitute.

The problem is the Church's confusion in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and in the light of the cultural revolutions that took place since the 1960s. The problem is that liberalism has dulled our hearts and made them grow cold because we are not inflamed with love for Jesus Christ anymore because we no longer believe in the Salvation that comes from Him. Nothing can be necessary for our salvation if we do not any longer believe in it. Nothing can be necessary for our salvation if we cannot even talk to young people about it. Giving to the poor doesn't help our salvation if we do not believe in salvation, our need for it and the need of others for it.  The confusion and division in the Church is grounded in ignorance of the Faith, ignorance of Scripture, ignorance of our roots, the Saints and Martyrs and sadly, ignorance of Jesus Christ. If traditional Catholics are not kind and generous to the poor then we are perhaps as severed from our tradition as are those liberal Catholics who do a lot for Cafod but who dismiss the rest of Catholic Teaching.

1 comment:

shadowlands said...

"If traditional Catholics are not kind and generous to the poor then we are perhaps as severed from our tradition as are those liberal Catholics"

Excellent point.

Also, if we each look FIRST into our own hearts and ask ourselves, who do we see as the least of Christ's Brethren, for one it might be a liberal, for another they may dismiss the traditional Catholic, another the Charismatic, the homeless Catholic, the gay Catholic, the different race to me Catholic, the alcoholic Catholic, the poor Catholic, the unread/over read Catholic etc and ask God to remove anything in that anti feeling that is not of Him (some resistance may be of God, a warning to keep away etc). Yet whatever we do unto them (our least preferred Roman), or blog about them, we are doing that to Christ. To the Body of Christ.He says so, in His word.

We must ask and continue to ask God to show us His Heart for that person or that group we dismiss within the church, for whatever justifiable reason remembering God could have justified rejecting all of us. He didn't, so how can I?

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