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Mater et Magistra~Render to Ceasar~What is in The hearts of humans?
"It is not enough merely to formulate a social doctrine. It must be translated into reality. This is particularly true of the Church's social doctrine, the light of which is Truth, Justice, its objective, and Love, its driving force." ~ Mater et Magistra 226
The encyclical is addressed to all Christians. It's one the longest encyclicals in history. Pope John XXIII asked Cardijn to contribute to Mater et Magistra as the lead writer primarily. Section 236 of the encyclical endorsed the Cardijn "see-judge-act" method.
"There are three stages which should normally be followed in the reduction of social principles into practice. First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgment on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act."
Mater et Magistra is about "Christianity and Social Progress." It describes the necessity of working towards an authentic community to promote human dignity. It also addresses pressing global issues like the population boom and the power of technology for good and evil.
"Mater et Magistra" is a Latin phrase that means "Mother and Teacher". today is still a dialogue between the Church and the global community of humanity concerning human rights, living the Sermon on the Mount, and understanding the difference in being human and the difference it makes. It strongly honors Joseph Cardinal Cardijn's "see-judge-act" method.
Mater et Magistra, also emphasized the importance of lay participation in the Church's social mission. Think Synodality. The encyclical stated, "The laity are called to act on their own initiative, as individuals or in groups, to bring the Christian spirit to bear on temporal affairs."
The idea that the people of God are called to act on their initiative to bring the Kingdom of God and the spirit to bear on our worldly affairs is rooted in the concept of lay ministry and social responsibility within Christianity.
Think of today's Gospel; you know the story of "Render to Caesar." This is not a story of separation of Church and State or paying taxes; it is Jesus talking about the Idolatry found in our hearts. In the story, Jesus has to ask for a coin; he doesn't carry one himself. The image on the coin is Caesar, the Christ. The story is one of Jesus asking us whom we follow in our hearts, exemplified by our actions.
The Kingdom of God is not divorced from the work-a-day world; it is in and of the world. This understanding emphasizes the active involvement of all people in the world, not just the clergy, applying the teachings and principles of Jesus to all of society, and most especially in the communities in which we live.
As you think about whom we follow in our hearts, exemplified by our actions, here are a few key points to reflect upon:
Ministry: Think of ministry as what we do as followers of Jesus, the work of everyday life in the Church and the world. Recognize that all members of the Church, not just clergy, are called to live out their faith actively—our faith commissions all people to contribute their skills, talents, and resources to serve others.
Social Responsibility: As followers of Jesus, we believe in the concept of social responsibility because of Jesus' teaching, in particular, the Sermon on the Mount. Which means actively engaging in efforts to improve society. The most challenging part is understanding Jesus asking us not to cut a check to the government or Catholic Charities and think we have done our part. We are being asked to volunteer, participate in charitable work, advocate for social justice, get involved as Jesus did, and help to alleviate poverty and suffering.
Application of Christian Values: We, the people of God, are encouraged to apply the values of Jesus, such as Love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness, to our everyday lives. This means being ethical in business practices, showing kindness and understanding in personal relationships, and advocating for fairness and equality in the larger society, global conflicts, and our neighborhoods.
Influence on Worldly Affairs: The phrase "temporal affairs" in Mater it Magistra refers to matters concerning the material or secular aspects of life, as opposed to spiritual or religious matters. As people of God and followers of Jesus, we are called to bring our faith into all areas of life; we are called to try our best to influence policies, laws, and societal norms following the principles of doing the greater good. This can be done through active participation in politics, community organizations, school boards, and other avenues where decisions about the affairs that impact our lives are made.
Individual and Collective Action: We, the people of God, can act individually and in groups. Joseph Cardijn showed us how to do this if we needed a model and how to act Individually and collectively. As Christians, we are encouraged to influence our immediate environments positively. Collectively, we can join or form organizations that work toward social justice, charitable causes, and community development.
This concept reflects a belief in the transformative power of faith, where individual actions inspired by Christian values can collectively contribute to a more just, compassionate, and harmonious society. Regardless of what Christian denomination you may belong to and other traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, our call as human beings is to emphasize the principles of doing the greater good, but for us who are followers of Jesus, the core idea of active Christian engagement with the world remains a fundamental aspect of the faith we proclaim.
"The Church needs all of its lay-folk, not just the clergy, to bring the kingdom of God into the present-day world." ~ Louis J Putz CSC 1957