It has been said that the “best kept secret” of the Catholic Church is its social justice teaching. This is a bit of hyperbole because it is not so much as a secret but a lack of familiarity. Beginning in 1891 with Rerum Novarum the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, the Church has addressed current social issues. Poverty, the rights and dignity of workers, economic justice, the dignity of the human person, the common good, stewardship, solidarity, peace are themes that are addressed and developed in the light of the Gospel.
People complain that the Church should stick to teaching religion. The fallacy is that religion can be separated or divorced from the other dimensions of our lives. No arena of life is free from religion and morality. We can’t follow Jesus on Sunday and abuse workers the rest of the week. We can’t leave our consciences aside to participate in politics. We can’t be good church goers and not be concerned about social sins like racism and systemic poverty. Even science and technology, as beneficial as they have been to human society, cannot operate in a religious vacuum. Research and development and the use of those developments must respect human dignity and be used in service to people and in justice.
This Lent, and anytime for that matter, I want to invite you to become familiar with Catholic Social Teaching. It may upset some of your preconceptions and challenge some of your economic or political beliefs. But, that is okay. No growth takes place without some effort and without some pain. To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1783) “Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgment according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.” The Church has a magisterium, i.e. a teaching authority given to it by Christ Himself. It is guided by the Holy Spirit who leads us to all truth (see John 16:13).
A good starting point to inform ourselves and our consciences is a primer of sorts found at the USCCB (U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops) under Justice, Peace, & Human Development: Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching. It can offer a springboard to deeper reflection and guidance to further documents to help deepen and enrich our understanding of the truth, beauty, and goodness of this “hidden treasure.”
Follow-up papal encyclicals issued on the anniversary of Rerum Novarum include:
Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo anno (1931)
Dear People of Holy Family,
During this year of many unanticipated events, we are so grateful for how your continued financial support has sustained Holy Family through challenging financial times. Your continued weekly offerings, one-time gifts, and generous responses to fundraising activities are ensuring the health of the parish now and into the future. I am mindful that your sustained support comes during a year in which your own personal finances may have been strained, and that makes me all the more appreciative of your commitment to Holy Family.
Please know that our staff joins me in appreciating your financial and prayerful support to our mission and ministries.
Our Holy Father Pope Frances has stirred up a great deal of anger, confusion, controversy, and discussion. He has been quoted as saying that same sex couples ought to be allowed to enter into civil unions. Of course, that sets off alarm bells regarding Biblical and Catholic moral theological teaching regarding homosexual acts.
State of the Parish
As we end 2020 I am happy to report that Holy Family Church has been financially stable. Thanks to the amazing and wonderful support and generosity of you, our people, we have come into the New Year in relatively good shape. We have also benefitted from careful managing of our expenses and a welcome Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan from the government, which I am pleased to report has been forgiven. We did have to repay an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) of ten thousand dollars, but we understand this may be reimbursed.
We continue to offer Masses regularly with our normal winter schedule. We remain at the mandated 25% capacity limit which allows us to seat 379 at the very most. I am happy to report that we have not needed to turn anyone away. The general dispensation from Sunday Mass attendance continues to be in effect as a safety precaution. Masks, social distancing, and hand washing have enabled us to operate safely.
Sacramental Confession (Reconciliation) continues to be offered twice weekly, and funerals and baptisms continue to be celebrated.
We have offered Faith Formation supporting families who are doing teaching in home with online resources. To keep our students safe we have done limited face-to-face youth groups and activities.
We have welcomed a new parish administrator – Mr. Bob King. He has already established himself and is doing a fine job of supervising our parish staff, monitoring our budget, and providing Guiding Lights – a vision for a parish that serves.
We have installed and are operating our new video camera system. It enables us to livestream, and archive for later viewing, our 4:00 pm Saturday Mass, daily Masses, and any other service we wish – baptisms, weddings, funerals, prayer services, children’s programs. It has been a valuable addition – especially in this COVID pandemic world. It will continue to serve our homebound and out-of-towners for many years to come.
Given the many disruptions that the pandemic has caused, we are doing remarkably well. We look forward to the widespread distribution of the vaccine and moving next year back to normal and even better things in Christ Our Lord.
Fr. Jerry Hagen