Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spiritual Armor and Social Justice

Fr. Fox, the best blogging priest on the 'nets, posted his recent talks for a homeschooling conference. Go and read; perusing Fr. Fox's homilies and speeches is like taking a mini-retreat.

From his talk on equipping your children with spiritual armor:
Paul tells us our Faith is a shield.

There are a lot of things to say about Faith, but let me highlight three aspects.

Faith is about knowledge—it matters that we know our Faith;
Faith is about obedience to what Christ teaches—it matters that we live our Faith;

And above all…

Faith is a choice of the will—which is why the habits of faith matter, because they’ll help us stand our ground and keep our choice strong when it’s not easy.

Notice Faith is a shield—not the sword. Our Faith is not mainly an offensive weapon, but a means of defense—against the attacks of the enemy.

"Flaming arrows" sound pretty scary, but St. Paul assures us our shield of Faith will do the job.

Remember, our Faith is not just ours—when we speak of our Faith, we mean our personal, individual choice of faith, but we also speak of the Faith of the Church. Remember that from the Ritual of Baptism?

Right before the child or the adult is baptized, the deacon or priest asks that person—or others to speak for her—to renounce the devil, and profess faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everyone joins in, and then the priest says, "This is our Faith. This is the Faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!"

When we recall that people die for that profession, even at this hour, those words take on new meaning, don’t they?

My point is, we have as our shield not only our personal faith, but the Faith of the Church, the whole Church. But it has to be personal, too; we have to be used to holding it, with a familiar grip—or we’ll fumble and drop it at the first sign of trouble.
And from his talk to teenagers on social justice:
Now, that example raises a couple of issues associate with the Church’s social teaching, did you notice?


What do you think the Church says about unions?

Ø People have a right to form or associate with unions—Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII.
Ø Unions should be about advancing the good of working people but not at the expense of others’ legitimate rights and the common good
Ø Catholics should not affiliate with unions if they aren’t compatible with Catholic teaching in general.

What the Church does not say about unions:
Ø That working people must belong to them.
Ø That unions are always right or should always prevail.
Ø That unions should be about employee versus employer: Pope Leo suggested the possibility of unions including employers—what idea was he trying to cultivate there?

Solidarity: i.e., yes, I am my brother’s keeper.
Related to this is the "common good." The idea is that sometimes I have to ask, not just what’s good for me, but what’s good for…us.

Let’s go back to that example: you go buy food in the store. You pay for it. You eat it. But you decided to buy some extra food and drop it off at the food pantry on the way home: you remembered the poor man, Lazarus.

Now, are you finished thinking about "justice" in this case?

Ø What about the workers who produced the food or brought it to you?
Ø What about the way the food was produced—care for the natural environment?

The workers involved in bringing this food to you are entitled to a fair wage and just working conditions—did they have the ability to negotiate and bargain collectively if they wanted to?


Jim Janknegt said...

One of the things that jumped out at me from the encyclical was a statement that the church had always been in favor of labor unions.

I just finished reading a book, Mecici Money, about the Medici bank during the renaissance and the author stated that the church at the time as being against any kind of labor unions because they were considered "against nature".

Do you have any insight into the church's historic stance on unions?

mrsdarwin said...

Actually, Jim, Fr. Fox would be the perfect person to ask about that since he was involved with National Right to Work before he became a priest. He'd know much more about the topic than I! Leave him a comment -- he's very diligent about answering questions.

Darwin said...


When Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum in the 1880s, he said that it was a natural right of all human persons to form associations, and recommended that both workers and business owners form associations -- separately and/or together. Up till that point, unions had been viewed with suspicion as they were often anti-clerical and anti-monarchy/aristocracy in tone -- and sometimes openly atheistic. Leo strongly advocated the creation of specifically Catholic workers associations, though he said that at times it might be acceptable to to join secular unions as well. In later social encyclicals the popes remained basically supportive of organized labor in principle -- though I don't think the approach of our modern US unions was ever addressed clearly.

I'm not aware of the Church ever having had any position on unions prior to Leo XIII, but in that encyclical he tied the idea of workers associations to the medieval craft guilds, which themselves often had a strongly religious character.

I don't have any specific knowledge about what was going on with labor in Italy at the time of the Medici, though.

Hope that helps...