Wednesday, June 11, 2014

If It's Good Enough for Dorothy Day, It's Good Enough for Me.

I did not attend a Catholic high school, and it never occurred to me that I should have a catechism. I think my mom had one lying around the house from her RCIA days. By the time I had arrived for my first day of Totus Tuus training, I was wishing I had thought to look.

We sat for a week and listened to pretty fantastic talks and lessons concerning what we would be teaching in our parishes. They gave us a list of helpful tools (All of which I somehow never purchased while teaching): A solid Catholic bible, the CCC, and apologetics resources that included the most incredible piece of laminated paper I had ever seen (which I did buy halfway into the first summer).

I honestly believe what hooked me for life that first summer, was hearing about Catholic Social Teaching (CST) for the first time in my life. I had never heard it phrased that way, though I certainly knew the principles. I borrowed my teammate's catechism nearly every day that first summer to go through and study all the reference numbers from our training.

Sometimes, I hear CST thrown around as a "liberal Catholic thing" and this drives me bonkers. First, because I loathe it when we label universal Catholic teaching by a limited, American political term. I also loathe it when others can't see how perfectly CST rounds out the "faith and reason" idea within Catholicism.

Because CST holds such a special place in my heart, I thought I would shoot off a post for you with my top eight all things CST. So, in no particular order, here we go:

I came across this INCREDIBLE infograph a few years ago, and it is just one of my favorite things ever. Current issues, scripture, encyclicals, CST. Pure awesome.


I wrote about this back in April (post here), but I really find the application of CST to the modern American economy/political scene to be fascinating. It truly reinforces that no one political party embraces purely all that is good. I am certain that, given the Church's universality, these principles are easily applied to other nations and political climates as well. How fortunate are we to have a thoroughly sourced and well-written rubric to help us navigate current social issues without dictating how we all must come to a conclusion? Yes. There are different ways to apply these principles. Who doesn't love a good Catholic debate, eh?


I also positively adore the fact that some principles of CST (ahem... dignity of work and rights of workers) helped to bring Dorothy Day into the church.


The Catechism also presses the need for social justice. These passages not only spell out our equality despite differences, but acknowledge barriers to be overcome:
1938 There exist also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel:

Their equal dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humane conditions. Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace.44
Solidarity, yo (CCC, 1939). We are all in this together, like it or not. The duality of this is striking: comforting to know we are all in the same boat, but that means we can all go down if it sinks.
What? This is totally relevant. The ark is a boat! GO WITH IT.


Personal story time: My first-ever, real, live, religion class post-Catholic school, was my junior year of college. Intro to Theology with Fr. Meinrad Miller at Benedictine College. The course was cleverly nicknamed 'Into to Catholicism' by the student body. After two summers of teaching Totus Tuus, I finally had to purchase my own copy of the Catechism, and it was a pretty exciting. As I was making my giant book purchase at the student bookstore, I was pretty eager to get my CCC up to my room and start looking stuff up. This book was also on the list:
The only way I would have been more excited, is if I would have had to buy a Baltimore Catechism as well. 
Once I had my books, I paid and stepped away from the window. I checked through the order to make sure I had the right items and neither catechism was in my bag! I had to wait in line again, and convince the bookstore guy he was wrong. It took some arguing, and then I had to go another week without my books because they had ordered the wrong ones. That guy is now my husband, and it still takes some convincing when he is wrong. Ha!

For Christmas one year, my adorable husband gave me this book:

It's totally a textbook. Book nerd. 
I had just started working as a domestic and sexual violence advocate. While the work was tragic and rewarding, the environment was tough one for me to find my place. I did not know a single person that was a practicing Catholic that did the work, and I was discovering that clergy (Catholic, other Christian denominations, etc.) did not always jump on the "Say no to abuse!" train the way I had assumed. I needed as many resources as possible to confirm that Catholicism in no way supported women staying in abusive relationships. The section of this book that covers the "sinful inequalities", human dignity, etc. definitely helped confirm this for me, along with...


...The FaithTrust Institute. While this agency acts as more of a non-denominational resource, (meaning, not everything you will find on the site fits within the teachings of Catholicism) many of the resources they offer helped my clients, and helped me to remember what God's plan for marriage looks like, and that violence (physical, sexual, mental, emotional or of any kind) has no part in that plan. If the family is the social unit upon which we build our society, it must be healthy: there is no room to treat a spouse like they are less than.

Now that you have a glimpse into my obsession on the subject, what are your thoughts on social justice, or CST? Any resources you care to share?