the really long post where I talk about social justice

I was going to blog about really cute and/or funny things that I have browsed on the internet while I was supposed to be doing homework. But then I stumbled upon this blog called “A Story” and realized that instead of telling you about the Russian Doll measuring cups or Pick Your Nose party cups, I really wanted to share her words about Catholic social teaching. Based on her blog address, I think her name is Sarah, but I haven’t had a chance yet to stalk all of her old posts to find out. I will, don’t you worry about that. But for now, here is some of what this girl who I think is named Sarah says:

----beginning of Sarah’s words----

Faith needs action. Social teaching provides the structure for that action. It guides us along and holds our hands and tells us, "okay, little Susy, we need to be nice to Polly because being nice is nice. So nice!" No brainer type stuff that we should be able to figure out on our own but need swift kicks in the butt doing. Or at least little reminders.

What Catholic Social Teaching outlines:

-the Common Good
-the Life and Dignity of the Human Person
-a Preferential Option for the Poor (and Vulnerable)
-Stewardship & Care for Creation
-[the concept of] Subsidiarity

All great topics in and of themselves. All beautifully related. The Catholic Church takes a simple Christian stance: take care of God's creation, fools. (Or at least, that's how I hear it.)

1. The common good? Means that just because you are all set to go with a mansion and big screen and endless supply of oreo cookies does not mean all is well in the world. Even if you have a lazy boy, too, and a water slide directly to your pool. All is most definitely not good unless everyone is good. That means that sometimes, other peoples' needs come before your own. Like, maybe you could share your oreos or something.

2. The life and dignity of the human person. Most would probably read this and think: oh this refers to the Catholic view of abortion, BAM. Those Catholics! Always harping against abortion! But not necessarily. (I mean, yes, we do harp against abortion, but the concept is a lot more universal.) Dignity is for everyone. Everyone has these rights to the basic necessities. Food, water, shelter, and dignity. Of these, I think the most important is dignity. No one wants their failures or their shame slammed back in their faces. No one deserves it. It's our job to lift each other up to the point where everyone sees the good in themselves, and can then maybe pass the good along. Neat.

3. A preferential option for the poor... um, what? Yeah. It's kind of confusing. Basically it means that we should prefer the poor. Again, you might say, um, what? That sounds kind of weird. But the Jesus of the Gospel was notorious for spending his time with poor people. Sinners, even. omg! A better translation for "preferential option" (remember, this stuff is translated out of Latin) would be "preferred favor." Why should anyone prefer the poor? Not just because rich people are boring and stuffy, but because the poor have the most need. Think of a family who has a child with leukemia. A heart-wrenching situation in general. Maybe the parents are forced to spend a lot of time away from their other kids, caring for their sick child. They love their healthy kids a lot. But they are also forced, out of necessity, to maybe prefer or favor their sick baby. The love is the same for everyone, it's a matter of time and energy being spent in a way that benefits those with most need.

4. Stewardship and care for creation is such a great topic in this line of social thought. It gets my goat when Christians forget their belief that God gave humans care over the earth. If that's true (and even if it's not) doesn't that mean we should.... care for the earth and all its inhabitants? As in, not trash it? As in, love every little creature great and small? Environmentalism isn't real high on a lot of peoples' lists, but it is on mine and so I am glad such thought has gone into this subject of Catholic teaching.

5. Subsidiarity. Remember the saying, "give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he is full for a lifetime." It is always, always preferable to let people do for themselves that which they actually can do for themselves. When I think about subsidiarity, I think back to the idea of dignity. Everyone deserves the chance to earn for themselves. To become better people and eventually stand on their own two feet. We have to be conscious of the ways we "help." For example, if I hand-fed my little brothers all their lives and never let them lift a finger on their own, when in fact they are capable of it. Am I helping them by depriving them of certain abilities? Not necessarily. Subsidiarity. It's a beautiful thing.

----end of Sarah’s words----

I think she did a great job at capturing why I love Catholicism. Don’t get me wrong – of course I am not saying that Catholics are the only people that do this. MWG is the spiritual head of our household and he has chosen a MegaChurch for us – one that does an amazing job at most of these concepts. But I guess the difference to me is that now it feels like people do them because it seems like we *should*…… whereas the examples I saw in the lives of Catholic families growing up were not like that. You didn’t help others because you *should*, you did it because it is just a part of you. We were just one big, giant, happy, community that helped anyone that came along. Even the weird, sick, old, smelly or undocumented people. We had an (actual) crazy lady living in a trailer in our backyard. We washed and reused our plastic silverware and ziploc baggies because why would you waste something that is still perfectly good? We had the Singles group over every Tuesday night for potluck dinner. If we had two (rundown) vehicles and somebody needed one, we gave one to them. (or sold it to them for $1 so that the title could be transferred.) I’ve realized that while it is beautiful to go to Africa or South America and help the poor, you don’t have to go that far to find people in need. In fact, they are just about everywhere you look.

One of my favorite quotes has always been one from St. Francis of Assisi – “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” It is my hope and prayer for myself that I can do a better job at this. (Even if it means I have to live without this parking citation notepad.)

(Go read more about Sarah at her blog. I want to make sure I give her credit because I couldn’t find an email address to write and ask her permission.)


sarahsmile3 said...

Thank you for posting this. I really enjoyed reading Sarah's words and your follow up.

I was just thinking about how I feel like I need to back to church on the regular. Not because I should and that I grew up going to church and that it's just what people do on a Sunday but because I want to. I want to go because of people like you and Sarah, people like your parents, people like the Cochran's, etc. Basically, people that make other people better people by living in the example set forth by Christ.

There is a catholic church within walking distance of my home. I'll be there this Sunday.

"Miss Bee" said...

We really did have it good. Your parents were the same way - I can't even count the times they let me, Adam, and Jessica stay with you while John was in the hospital. It can't be easy to have extra kids around!

We call the church next to you the Catholic Mega since they are so big that they have to have police direct traffic. The new priest is really good - I'll go with you if you want! Just not to the 7:30am mass.

Sarah Marie said...

ohhh goodness, Miss Bee. I haven't had time to read over much of your blog. But from skimming the "front page" of your blog I see that you like Catholicism, you're addicted to Real Simple Magazine, and you are utterly confused by lavish soirees for one-year-olds.

I think we have a lot in common!

Thanks for re-capping some of my thoughts. I'm so so happy that someone somewhere out there found them useful. :)