Life in Christ The Human Community RCIA 2014

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Life in Christ - The Human Community


Opening Prayer

From: Pope Francis: Homily, visit Lampedusa, July 8, 2013

Today no one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters. We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half-dead on the side of the road, and perhaps we say to ourselves, "Poor soul...!" and then go on our way. It's not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured, assuaged. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn't affect me; it doesn't concern me; it"s none of my business!

Be with us, Lord, this evening. Open our hearts to be compassionate... to NOT be indifferent to the suffering of others. Amen



The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father's only Son.

Social justice is not about individualism.

John Paul II said we don't have the ability to take care of ourselves.

In God's plan, the gifts are not distributed equally.

Church is the largest provider of social services

Started as works of charity and mercy.

The Person and Society

  • The Communal Character of the Human Vocation
    • The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature.
    • A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each of them.
    • Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but "the human person"... is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions. GS 26 1
    • Socialization: To promote the participation of the greatest number on the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions... which relate to economic and social goals to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs. ...also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capabilities. CCC 1882
    • subsidiarity - a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions , but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view of the common good.
    • God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. CCC 1884
  • Conversion and Society
    • Society is essential to the fulfillment of the human vocation. To attain this aim, respect must be accorded to the just hierarchy of values, which "subordinates physical and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones. 1886
    • Inversion of means and ends
    • It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it.
    • Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving " Whoever seeks to gain his life will loose it, but whoever losses his life his life will preserve it Lk 17:33

Participation in the Social Life

  • Authority
    • Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as fare as necessary to work and care for the good of all 1897
    • There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God (Rom 13:1)
    • The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged with it with respect, ...
  • The Common Good (not the same thing as General Welfare)
    • common good: "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily" GS 26. It consists of three elements:
      • presupposes respect for the person as such. Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation.
      • requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties.
      • requires peace, that is the stability and security of of a just order.
    • The common good is always oriented towards the progress of persons. The order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons. 1912
  • Responsibility and Participation
    • It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common god of civil society.

Social Justice

Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation.

7 Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

The Church's social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Modern Catholic social teaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents. The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood best through a direct reading of these documents. In these brief reflections, we highlight several of the key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition.

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person -The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation - The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society -- in economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
  • Rights and Responsibilities The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable - A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
  • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers - The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in Gods creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
  • Solidarity - We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice.1 The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
  • Care for God's Creation - We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.

Closing Prayer


Cultural Applications

Homework for next session