Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt: Family as the foundation of culture.

Dear friends in Christ,

Since the beginning of man’s life on earth, the family has served as the cornerstone of society.  The integrity of the family set the standard for society from the beginning of time as the underpinning of our civilization, reflecting the beneficial differences between men and women and the complementarity of their hearts, minds, and bodies.

Aristotle argued that the natural progression of human beings flowed from the family via small communities out to the polisThe state itself, then, as a natural extension of the family, mirrors this critical institution.

Inspired by Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “man is by nature a social being since he stands in need of many vital things which he cannot come by through his own unaided effort. Hence he is naturally part of a group by which assistance is given him that he may live well.  He needs this assistance with a view to life as well as to the good life.”[1]  And Pope Leo XIII develops Aquinas’ thought further, recognizing that “man’s natural instinct moves him to live in civil society, for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties.”[2]  Indeed, just as our communities and the state itself imitate the structure of the family, our economy is also modeled after oikonomia—the Greek word for household management.

Read more

Editor’s note: This is a fairly long piece, but it is worth a read. This is what good Catholic bishops are supposed to do – teach!

Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Custodi di Quella Fede

Leo_XIII.jpg

“Everyone should avoid familiarity or friendship with anyone suspected of belonging to masonry or to affiliated groups.

Know them by their fruits and avoid them.

Every familiarity should be avoided, not only with those impious libertines who openly promote the character of the sect, but also with those who hide under the mask of universal tolerance, respect for all religions, and the craving to reconcile the maxims of the Gospel with those of the revolution.

These men seek to reconcile Christ and Belial, the Church of God and the state without God.”

47 Various Encyclicals by Pope Leo XIII

“It is perfectly clear and evident, Venerable Brothers, that the very notion of a civilization is a fiction of the brain if it rest not on the abiding principles of truth and the unchanging laws of virtue and justice, and if unfeigned love knit not together the wills of men, and gently control the interchange and the character of their mutual service.”

Catholics often hear that we intend to “impose our morality” upon our neighbors, and that this can’t be done in a truly free, that is to say thoroughly secular society.  Set aside the plain fact that all law imposes a moral vision, though it is seldom consistent or adequate, and it is sometimes perverse.

The fact is, morality admits no peculiar possessives.  If a morality is only mine, it isn’t morality but meaningless predilection.  Either a moral law exists, applying to everyone at all times, or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t, there is no moral reason to prefer civilization to savagery; the latter can be a lot more fun.  But we won’t have that choice anyway, because we will lose civilization itself.  What we now call “civilization” and “culture,” Pope Leo calls “a fiction of the brain,” a vain idea, when the reality is gone.

That loss of morality understood as what we receive, not what we create; not what shackles us, but what sets us free to realize our human potential, implies already the loss of “unfeigned love” which should knit together “the wills of men, and gently control the interchange and the character of their mutual service.”  We must insist upon this connection.  I cannot give amoral love.  But human beings need love; they need the love that brings them deeper into the truth.

More

Catholic Social Teaching: It’s Time to End the Misrepresentations

I’m sick of it.  I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding sex and marriage is one thing, in that old-fashioned trinket box over there, while Catholic teaching regarding stewardship and our duties to the poor is another thing, on that marble pedestal over here.

I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding the Church and her authority is one thing, the embarrassing Latinate red-edged tome tucked away in that closet, while Catholic teaching regarding the laity is another, and pass that bread this way!

No, it is all of a piece.  What the Church says about divorce is inextricable from what she says about the poor.  What she says about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is inextricable from what she says about the respects in which all men are created equal—and the many respects in which she insists upon a salutary inequality.

When we fail to see the integrity of the faith, not only do certain truths escape our notice; the rest, the truths we think we see, grow monstrous, like cancers, and work to destroy the flesh they once seemed to replace.

Read more from Anthony Esolen at Crisis Magazine

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph: Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical on devotions to the saint.

QUAMQUAM PLURIES
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII
ON DEVOTION TO ST. JOSEPH

…The special motives for which St. Joseph has been proclaimed Patron of the Church, and from which the Church looks for singular benefit from his patronage and protection, are that Joseph was the spouse of Mary and that he was reputed the Father of Jesus Christ.

From these sources have sprung his dignity, his holiness, his glory. In truth, the dignity of the Mother of God is so lofty that naught created can rank above it. But as Joseph has been united to the Blessed Virgin by the ties of marriage, it may not be doubted that he approached nearer than any to the eminent dignity by which the Mother of God surpasses so nobly all created natures. For marriage is the most intimate of all unions which from its essence imparts a community of gifts between those that by it are joined together. Thus in giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as spouse, God appointed him to be not only her life’s companion, the witness of her maidenhood, the protector of her honour, but also, by virtue of the conjugal tie, a participator in her sublime dignity.

And Joseph shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men. Hence it came about that the Word of God was humbly subject to Joseph, that He obeyed him, and that He rendered to him all those offices that children are bound to render to their parents. From this two-fold dignity flowed the obligation which nature lays upon the head of families, so that Joseph became the guardian, the administrator, and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was. And during the whole course of his life he fulfilled those charges and those duties. He set himself to protect with a mighty love and a daily solicitude his spouse and the Divine Infant; regularly by his work he earned what was necessary for the one and the other for nourishment and clothing; he guarded from death the Child threatened by a monarch’s jealousy, and found for Him a refuge; in the miseries of the journey and in the bitternesses of exile he was ever the companion, the assistance, and the upholder of the Virgin and of Jesus.

Now the divine house which Joseph ruled with the authority of a father, contained within its limits the scarce-born Church. From the same fact that the most holy Virgin is the mother of Jesus Christ is she the mother of all Christians whom she bore on Mount Calvary amid the supreme throes of the Redemption; Jesus Christ is, in a manner, the first-born of Christians, who by the adoption and Redemption are his brothers.

And for such reasons the Blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided specially to his trust – this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the Father of Jesus Christ he holds, as it were, a paternal authority. It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.

Read more

Pope Leo XIII Decried Socialism, 150 Years Later The USCCB Embraces It

Such destructive thinking needs to be addressed as it runs contrary to natural law and the laws of God. Furthermore the Bishops, as they manifest culturally and politically via the USCCB, are not only socialists, but function regularly as statist agents. They do not shout for socialism; they just enact it and applaud its ongoing construction. They should be assessed not by what they advocate, but by what they achieve and destroy.

Read the article

Read 7 of the most important Catholic social Encyclicals