Welcome to our third edition of Salt and Light, the Quarterly Review of St. John Vianney’s Social Service Ministries. Unlike our weekly e-newsletters which include updates and information about upcoming SJV events, our Quarterly Review is meant to be more educational in nature. We invite you to join us in our Quarterly Reviews as we explore contemporary issues that are relevant to the Catholic Church’s social doctrine and the Corporal Works of Mercy, and to review our Church’s rich history in both words and actions in the arena of social justice. In addition to articles on these topics, we will share with you links to additional resources, prayers, action steps, and upcoming events. At the same time, we will share with you our Quarterly Reports which address the facts and figures of our own social justice efforts and how we are reaching out to and serving the poor and the vulnerable here at SJV.
To understand this important teaching of our Church, we must first remember that we were not created by God to live alone. In the beginning, God created humanity male and female (Gen 1:27; 2:18), destined to live in community with one another and with God. This is an essential part of human nature. Family is the corner stone of our community and it is the most important part of a person’s life. It is where we are nurtured and where we learn. Families are where vocations are born (as Fr. Jonathan points out in this issue) and where our Catholic identity can be learned and strengthened (as former parishioner Chris Cole discusses here). But, our capacity as social creatures does not end with the family.
In fact, human beings can only truly flourish in the context of a community. “The human person cannot find fulfilment in himself, that is, apart from the fact that he exists ‘with’ others and ‘for’ others” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church). Our obligation to love our neighbor is not only an individual commitment; it requires a broader social responsibility. As Christians, we are called together as one in the body of Christ. As One Body, we are called to care for all and to establish the common good. Every person has a duty to work for the advancement of the common good and the well-being of all. In his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict summarized the centrality of the concept of the call to family, community, and participation: “Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much He loves me.”
Furthermore, the call to participation means that active and faithful citizenship is the responsibility of all Catholics. “The obligation to participate in political life is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do” (U.S. Catholic Bishops). As the presidential primaries move forward towards the election of a new President just around the corner, it is easy to veer off into our own personal causes, align ourselves with one political party or other, and forget about our Catholic conscience. But, as parishioner John Fahy explains in this issue of Salt & Light, our political participation is not nor should it be a secular endeavor. We don’t turn off our faith when we vote or participate in politics. In fact, our faith should inform every political choice that we make. We are blessed to live in a country with many freedoms, including the right to vote and the right to free speech. However, our Founding Fathers understood that freedom can be a precarious thing. More than threats from outsiders, they seemed to fear the internal threats of an ignorant populace, mob rule, and the corruption of our nation’s morals. Throughout the history of the U.S., our Christian values and morals have sustained and upheld our freedom. Perhaps Patrick Henry, the great American orator and Founding Father, summed up how our freedom can be sustained by faith best when he said, “It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue.”
Read on in this issue of Salt & Light to learn more about the Church’s Call to Family, Community, and Participation. We are very grateful to all of our parishioners and guest participants for their contributions. We hope that the various contributions that we share here will be informative, relevant, and useful to each of you as you live out your Catholic faith day by day. Stay tuned for much more to come!
Have a Holy Week and a Happy Easter to you all. Alleluia!
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp-stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” Matthew 5: 13-16
In this issue of Salt and Light Quarterly Review:
- Love Makes Hope Blossom in the Wilderness” – Reflections on Easter
Easter ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Message of Pope Francis – Easter, 2015
“Risen” and the Reality of the Resurrection – A movie review by Bishop Robert Barron
- The Call to Family, Community and Participation – CRS video
Vocations are Born in Families! – By Fr. Jonathan Raia
Strengthening Catholic Identity through the Family – By Christopher Cole
The Human Community – By Bishop William E. Lori
Mayra’s Story – CRS Rice Bowl Reflection (video and text)
Catholic Social Teaching: The Call to Community and Participation – By Fr. Nathaniel Haslam (video)
Answering Our Call to Participate – By John Fahy
Questions for Reflection – From the USCCB
The Final Judgement – A reflection by Fr. John F. Morfin
- Living Faith, Changing Lives, Making a Difference: One Person at a Time
Quarterly Report from the Social Services Ministry
- Following up: A Faithful Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis
Syrian Christians Taking up the Cross – By Fr. Pablo
FOLLOWING UP: A FAITHFUL RESPONSE TO THE REFUGEE CRISIS
“The Gospel calls us, asks us to be ‘neighbors’ of the smallest and most abandoned.”~ Pope Francis
In our first issue of Salt & Light we featured numerous articles on the hardships faced by Syrian refugees and the crisis that has stemmed from that conflict. We know that many of those fleeing their countries of origin are doing so due to ethnic and religious persecution. Sadly, the persecution and the conflict continues, with no foreseeable end in sight.
We hope that you continue to pray for those facing persecution, and to give you a glimpse of what lots of our fellow Christians must face on a daily basis, we want to share with you an article titled Syrian Christians Taking up the Cross.
If reading this article has moved you to the point of taking action, we invite you to start by contacting Catholics Confront Global Poverty’s Action Center. As Father Pablo stated in his article, “may Jesus Christ grant us the grace to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him, even if it means following the footsteps of the courageous Syrian Christians.”
“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.” ~ Winston S. Churchill