SW CAFOD Action Team explore Catholic Social Teaching

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St Anns Streford Parish Centre Weds 2nd April 2014

When planning this event Joy Wanless talked of the wonderful talk and walk through teaching we had had at the Servite parish at the CAFOD meeting in November. Stephen also recalled the November meeting where he had witnessed an explanation of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) as being based on three pillars: Scripture – Magisterium (The Teaching of the Church) – People’s experience (Tradition).

Catholic Social teaching – the practical golden thread weaving through our lives. The stitching that loosely knits the spirituality and the sacramental and the being a good neighbour. The foundation – love God with all your heart and mind and strength. What a challenge! So overwhelming. So alien to survival, to the daily expectations. Can anybody achieve this? Jesus gives us the next rule of life, rule of thumb, love your neighbour as yourself. This makes the first so much easier: Treat others as you would be treated. We reflected on The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The church leaders have appeared to distil the practical reaction of the church to cultural trends, to the threat to our daily walk with God, and crafted documents usually in the form of an encyclical. And usually in a language so difficult to read that we have to put ourselves into the mind-set, space and place of the author, in order to appreciate and understand the message.

These encyclicals were explained during our study of the CST led by Joy. There was a trend and as spectators of this cultural documentation of the Church’s response to the liberalisation of society we were drawn to imagine the play between change and guidance as the Church and its members were shepherded through the 20th towards the 21st Century.

The Industrial revolution began the process and the education of the masses enabled a written history to be witnessed from Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum [“Of new things”] in 1891 to Pope Francis’s “The Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium) last year. We realised that we learned most of our CST at our mother’s knee and by witnessing her actions and we hopefully express this in our turn by continuing this witnessing, to our neighbour and our community.

Stephen had plundered the Catholic Social Teaching website amongst others and had a range of supportive materials which summarised the CST related encyclicals and emphasised some of their relationship to the church [ the people]. We had stories of human dignity, of community, of triumph and of great witness. These articles will be made available through Ged at the CAFOD office on request.

Everybody enjoyed the evening and Joy and I thought that the series could be continued with other scriptural passages. We had, in the end, pondered on one in particular, the parable of the vineyard owner who paid all workers the same regardless of time spent. The wealth of material out of this passage was inexhaustible and Joy skilfully guided us to ponder our experiences in light of this scripture and in light of the encyclicals we had touched upon. We finished with one of Margaret MacArtney’s prayers.

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