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Catholic Social Teaching

06 Jul
July 6, 2011

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable:
Catholic teaching proclaims that 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) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
(Archdiocese of St. Paul—Minneapolis)
For many of us this is the great challenge of our social teachings.  It is so easy to pass the blame on to those who are the most vulnerable, without stepping back to look at the structures that we have in place which allow people to fall into desperate poverty.   
No matter your personal political views, the just question to ask is how is the current budget crisis going to harm the most vulnerable members of our society?  How can we:  republicans, democrats, independents, tea partiers, green partiers… how can we reach beyond our own perspective and put the needs of the poor first?  This is the mandate of the Gospel.  There is nothing easy about this mandate, no quick fixes, no magic practices – it requires a change of heart, of focus, of priorities.  While none of us can fix the system alone; each of us can take a small step to positively impact the life of a poor person.  What step might you feel called to take today?
Blessings and peace,

Catholic Social Teaching

23 May
May 23, 2011

Wow! It was great to read all the responses to our first blog on the social teachings of the Catholic tradition… I look forward to more fruitful sharing on these essential teachings.

This week our focus is, “Community and the Common Good”

Community and the Common Good:

In a global culture driven by excessive individualism, our tradition proclaims that 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. Our Church teaches that the role of the government and other institutions is to protect human life and human dignity and promote the common good. (Archdiocese of St. Paul—Minneapolis)

For many of us this is where the rubber meets the road. When do the needs of my family, friends, or community need to yield to those of the larger community? When does the greater community need to consider the needs of the individual? Being a fan of Star Trek, I am reminded of the death scene of Spock when he states, “sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.” A statement that is reframed in the next movie as Kirk and the crew risk all to bring Spock back to life, “sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many or the few.”

I do not have any easy answers; I think seeking the common good is a delicate balance requiring much prayer and discernment. As a vowed religious sometimes I do have to set my desires aside for the common good of my community—at other times I am aware that my community sets aside time, energy, or resources to meet my needs. Is this not true in marriage and family life as well?

My hope and prayer for all us is that we will continue to make our decisions as individuals and as a nation in light of the common good. Concern for the common good is often an investment in our collective future, meaning that it might cost us time or resources now but the result will be a happier and healthier society.

Finally, I hope as we consider the common good we remember all who share this planet with us—the plants, animals, and natural systems that provide us with a home.

Blessings, and I look forward to your comments!


09 May
May 9, 2011

Catholic Social Teaching:

Did you know that there are clear ethical teachings on justice? The main teachings concern—

Human Dignity;

Community and the Common Good;

Rights and Responsibilities;

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable;


Dignity of Work—Rights of Workers;

Stewardship of Creation;


Role of Government;

Promotion of Peace.

Human Dignity:

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the person is at the core of a moral vision for society. Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.

(Archdiocese of St. Paul—Minneapolis)

What might this call to honor human dignity mean for us? How can we work for human dignity in our social systems, in our communities, in our families, and with our friends and co-workers. What one action could you take to honor the dignity of others? It doesn’t have to be a huge step, maybe it could be as simple as thanking people who wait on you, or as profound as letting other drivers merge in front of you. Or, maybe you are called to take more systemic action such as contacting your representative, or actively working to educate others about the horrors of human trafficking.

Whatever you feel called to do—blessings!


Easter Greetings

25 Apr
April 25, 2011

Those of us who are Christian have two major feasts which we celebrate each year, the incarnation (Christmas) and the resurrection (Easter). I am reminded this year, with all of the people suffering from natural disasters, war, the economic downturn, disease, and lack of basic human rights that the work of Easter is not yet finished. We, who call ourselves Christian, certainly are called to set time aside to rejoice, but more important, each of us is also called to work for justice. Christ has no hands on earth but ours. If we do not continue his mission of building the Kingdom on earth, who will?

So as we celebrate this Easter season let us remember that God loves us so much that God became one with us through the incarnation. The incarnation celebrates human dignity, we are worthy of the presence of God in our human flesh. God chose to be with us in human form. This gift challenges us to honor the dignity of each and every human person. The resurrection invites us to shake free from the bonds of oppression and to embrace the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is through the power of the resurrection that we glimpse the Kingdom and our call to be active participants in creating a world of peace and justice for all peoples — and for all creation.

Happy Easter to one and all, happy serving the needs of your neighbor.


Passover and Holy Week

14 Apr
April 14, 2011

This coming week is a sacred week for Jews and Christians as we celebrate the feasts of Passover and the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. These celebrations, on the surface may seem to not have a lot in common, other than the fact that tradition holds that the Last Supper was held during Passover. However, both of these great feasts and traditions (along with many other traditions) celebrate the fact that God is a God of justice and faithfulness. We can rest in the fact that in the end God cares for us, more than we can possibly believe or understand. God desires our freedom and has worked and will continue to work through human history to call each of us to take the risk of stepping into a life of freedom.

Happy Passover!

Blessed Holy Week!


Spring Quarter

28 Mar
March 28, 2011

Ah, the beginning of a new term. We are all filled with the hope and anticipation of what challenges and opportunities will arrive during the coming weeks. How much of what happens is dependent upon our attitude of reception? Are we open to the new? To the new people we will meet? To the new ideas presented by our professors, our peers, our textbooks? Have we addressed how we will scheduled our time–some of us may still have work to complete from last quarter–what changes might we need to make to experience a calmer, more balanced life?

My prayers go with you as you embark on this grand adventure. Be good to yourself, to your peers, and to your professors.



Sabbath Time Anyone?

21 Mar
March 21, 2011

It doesn’t matter what our faith tradition might be, or even if we have a faith tradition, it is imperative for all of creation to take time for Sabbath rest. Sabbath doesn’t mean taking a day off to catch up on errands, or to clean the house, or go shopping. Instead Sabbath rest invites us to set time apart, sacred time, to let go of our need to do and to embrace our call to be. I invite each of us, during this week of Spring Break (and I know that it isn’t really a break for our faculty) to make time to just relax, to be, to enjoy the wonders of spring. If we take time to delight in life we will discover that we return to our work refreshed and with more creativity. So stop and enjoy the daffodils–they won’t be here for long!

March 7, 2011

07 Mar
March 7, 2011

End of Quarter Pause?

As the final days of winter quarter fly past us it is easy to get caught up in the need to finish, rather than to savor the learning. How can we refocus our attention so that we might find these last days as exciting and as engaging as the first days of the quarter? I suggest that we carefully budget our time, set due dates for ourselves, and give ourselves permission to say, “Good enough, is good enough!” I also suggest that we take time out of the frantic rush to pause, to ponder, to go for a walk, to enjoy a cup of coffee and to sleep!

So take a deep breath, get your work done, but remember learning is a process not a product… enjoy the journey!



February 28th

28 Feb
February 28, 2011

Happy New Year,

For centuries the new year began on March 1st. I find this comforting as I have yet to accomplish, or should I say attend to, any of my resolutions from January 1st. New beginnings are wonderful. Each new day we can start with a fresh outlook, with renewed hope. I know that this is not always easy, some days like today are gray, wet, and miserable and it is easy to let ourselves feel that way as well. I encourage each of us, and especially myself, to strive to start each day of this new year with an open heart and an attitude of abundance.

Many Blessings,



15 Feb
February 15, 2011
February, a time of transition from the darkness of winter to the light of early spring.  Yet there is great tension in this period of transition — will it snow this week or not?  Will the early flowers be killed in a frost?  But, every year spring manages to push its way through the winter soil and once again life returns to the earth.  Sometimes I find myself pondering the energy it takes for spring to occur.  The trees send forth buds, and in doing so they must reach down into the depths of their energy stores.  There is a risk in this process, as if the tree sends forth buds too early they may be destroyed, too late and the tree may not get enough energy to live through another winter.
And so it is with us.  A wise person once said that the only constant is change.  I believe this to be true.  Yet, change is hard work.  It doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen without us reaching into the depths of our beings.  Change may or may not lead us to moments of deep transformation.  The choice to grow and be transformed requires timing, trust, and courage.
So, on this day of cloud and sun, on this day when new life is risking an appearance on our beautiful campus I pray that each of us may be open to whatever the deep down stirring might call forth.  
Have a blessed day!