Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How do we Help?

When facing a violated theme of Catholic Social Teaching (e.g. a Sinful Social Structure, an Injustice) we are then plagued with the question, "How can I help?"

The answer is usually a complex one, which often turns people away from wanting to help at all. The problem may seem too big, too widespread for one person to handle.

A popular prayer askes God to "Give me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference." This part of Catholic Social Teaching helps us to know the difference.

Once again I direct you to the School Web Lockers for the power point we covered in class on this topic.
When an individual is hurting our first instinct is to reach out and offer help. This is called DIRECT AID. It is a personal, often one-on-one way of offering immediate assistance to a vicitm. Direct aid has immediate benefits in the life of the victim, but they are often small in scope and short-lived.
For example, if someone's home has been burned to the ground by militant rebels, offering a blanket, food & drink, or some clothing is an immediate form of aid. But it does not rebuild the house or offer any other long-term solution, and it certainly does not stop the rebels from burining down other houses.

Big problems also require SOCIAL ACTION, which is identifying the root cause of the problem and eliminating it. Social Action is a long-term approach to a problem that requires a lot of organization and usually a lot of manpower. Rarely is a social action solution something that works overnight. Rather they take weeks, months, or even years. However, there impact is widespread and long-lasting (if not permanent.)

Using our example of militant rebels, a social action approach dictates that we investigate why the group is motivated to inflict terror on civilians. If the answer lies in their lack of financial resources or opportunities then efforts to restore balance would be helpful. If the rebels do not respond to diplomacy then it may be time to look at the conflict in light fo the Church's just war theory and determine if military action is the next step.

Social Action is the philosophy behind the addage, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."

Direct Aid and Social Action work together, just like to feet, to help bring stability to a situation and enable progress toward a solution.

Until next time,
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

Social Structures

There are many different aspects to our lives and each them has its own context. These Nine contexts are the Social Structures (or Institutions) that make up society.

1. Marriage & Family
2. Education
3. Healthcare
4. Production & Distribution of Goods & Services
5. Business & Financial Matters (Commerce)
6. Law & Government
7. Media & Communication
8. Recreation & Entertainment
9. Religion (which is both a Human & a Divine Institution)

Again, there is a power point on the School Web Lockers, but it is mostly pictures.

Are all Social Institutions the Same?
A particular institution can be either Graced or Sinful. The criterion for making that judgment is rooted in God's will and the Dignity of the Human Person. If a particular institution violates, denies, or degrades human dignity then it is Sinful. On the other hand, if it is an institution that respects and builds up personal dignity with respect to the will of God then it is Graced.

Until next time,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. B

Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

Modern Catholic Social Teaching is built upon Seven Themes which we discussed in class. There is a power-point over these themes on the School Web Lockers.

This helpful website from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explaines each theme in more detail.

1. Life & Dignity of the Human Person
2. Call to Family & Community Participation
3. Rights and Responsibilities
4. Option for the Poor & Vulnerable
5. Dignity of Work & Rights of Workers
6. Solidarity
7. Stewardship for Creation

LEARN THESE THEMES and incorporate them into you senior project. Again, these are the backbone of Catholic Social Teaching.

Until Next time,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. B