CNA - Saint of the Day

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Social Justice

Today on the feast day of St Maximillian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr we see how social justice is lived to a heroic degree. This one action of St Maximilian is in itself the very compendium of social teaching. This is what the Lord expects of each of us in relation to the others good. St Maximillian Kolbe taking that step forward out of line in order to save the life af a fellow prisoner was obviously living the words of Christ "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Jn 15:13 Of course this great love for another is animated by a very deep love of Christ. This love for Christ is born by imitating the Mary Immaculate the mould of true love. St Maximilian was a true child of the Immaculate.


In doing a little research on the whole topic, I just came across a good site that lays out the basics of Social Justice. This is a very much overlooked teaching of the Church that underpins all the Church's activities in the social sphere. Something I feel I must try to get a grip on. I purchased the Compendium recently and have dipped in and out but I need to know what it is summary wise before I try to expound on it. 

The site I mention above can be accessed by clicking on th etitle of this post and I feel it also sums up the social mission of service of the Deacon. In order to define social justice, let us begin, by taking a look at what social ministry is. 

Social Ministry has two main aspects: social service (also known as Parish Outreach) and social action.


Social Service is giving direct aid to someone in need. It usually involves performing one or more of the corporal works of mercy. That is, giving alms to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick or imprisoned, taking care of orphans and widows, visiting the shut-ins etc. Another name for it is charity.

Social Action is correcting the structures that perpetuate the need. Another name for this is Social Justice. Through the lens of social justice, we begin to take a look at the problems and issues facing us in our own communities, the nation and finally the world, and we begin to ask questions such as, "Why is there so much unemployment in our area?" "Why are there so many poor in our community?" "How will the deforestation of our rain forests affect our global climate?" etc. Very often when you are performing social service, you also become involved in solving the problem which created the need in the first place, and the two are closely related and often blend together. 


An example of this would be, someone comes to your food pantry, and tells you he/she has no food, because he/she lost their job recently. You may know of an employer looking to hire someone right away for a job requiring little or no skills. You give that person food, then place that person in touch with the employer. You then would have solved both problems for that person. (a) the immediate need of food through an act of charity (social service) and (b) you would have corrected the problem which created and perpetuated the need. (social justice) 

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MĂșlier, ecce fĂ­lius tuus, Totus Tuus! Fergal

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