I recently offered a reflection to the faculty and staff of Metro Catholic School on our tradition of social teaching, specifically regarding the principle of Solidarity. At the heart of Christian solidarity is compassion. Compassion is more than simply feeling bad about another’s misfortune; it is the willingness to stand in communion with that individual or group of persons. Compassion calls us beyond ourselves and calls us to accompany our sisters and brothers in the midst of their trials.
Of course, solidarity is one of the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching, as identified by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Solidarity, along with the other principles, help us to understand how we promote the dignity of every human life and the common good. It is part of our Christian duty, not unlike the call to perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It is also in this context of solidarity that we appreciate all the other principles as they relate to one another and are applied to every expression of human activity.
While we hold as paramount the life and dignity of the human person – born and yet to be born – the other principles are integral. While one principle may strike us more than others, however, isolating one from the other weakens and deprives the full force of all seven principles.
As the Season of Creation is observed through October 4th, this month-long ecumenical initiative is not to be confused with the Church’s liturgical seasons. However, the Season of Creation may be incorporated in aspects of our liturgical and other pastoral experiences in the parish. The same holds true for Respect Life Month which is observed every October.
As we take this opportunity to reflect upon this call to care for God’s creation, we realize that it is more than merely promoting initiatives to recycle plastic or reduce water consumption. The principle itself calls us to a deeper understanding as a family of sisters and brothers who are entrusted with the call of stewardship. Hopefully, we see how consumerism and materialism, for example, directly and indirectly impacts the quality of life for those we may not personally know. Furthermore, how do those products purchased in one culture have an impact on another’s economic health, or the environment in another country, or consumption of resources already scarce for a particular region? As Christians, we always see these issues connected to the dignity of human life and the common good. I thank those in our parish who continually bear witness to the ongoing call for conversion as we grapple with the realities of the present age.
In the love of the Divine Master and Author of all Life,