Sunday, December 07, 2008

A special and personal vocation...

Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council teaches: "May all Christians be aware of their special and personal vocation in the political community. This vocation requires that they offer a shining example of devotion to duty and of service in promoting the common good, so that they also show by their deeds how authority can be harmonized with freedom , personal initiative with the interrelationships and bonds of the whole social body, and appropriate unity with beneficial diversity." (No. 75).

At the same time, Christians must not treat citizenship as inherently more important than other elements of their vocation which are more central (such as work and family) and should refrain from deferring unduly to the government's authority. It goes without saying that the State should not be regarded as the first principle of morality and that when the State demands that which conflicts with moral truth (such as same-sex "marriage" or abortion) the Christian should affirm that, "We must obey God rather than any human authority" (Acts 5:29). Dignitatis Humanae, No. 11, reminds us that: "He [Jesus Our Lord] acknowledged the power of government and its rights, when He commanded that tribute be given to Caesar: but He gave clear warning that the higher rights of God are to be kept inviolate: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21). See also Thomas Aquinas, S.t., 2-2, q.104, a.5.

The purpose of the State is to promote the common good. This is what gives the State its fundamental right to rule. Where the State no longer promotes the common good, it forfeits its right to rule: "The Church has always taught the duty to act for the common good and, in so doing, has likewise educated good citizens for each State. Furthermore, she has always taught that the fundamental duty of power is solicitude for the common good of society; this is what gives power its fundamental rights. Precisely in the name of these premises of the objective ethical order, the rights of power can only be understood on the basis of respect for the objective and inviolable rights of man." (Redemptor Hominis, No. 17).

Pope John Paul II defines the common good as, "..the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, No. 38). John Paul also explains in this Encyclical Letter that, "It is important to note...that a world which is divided into blocs, sustained by rigid ideologies, and in which instead of interdependence and solidarity different forms of imperialism hold sway, can only be a world subject to the structures of sin. The sum total of the negative factors working against a true awareness of the universal common good and the need to further it, gives the impression of creating, in persons and institutions, an obstacle which is difficult to overcome." (No. 36).

At a time when Christians are increasingly being marginalized, both here and abroad, the Christian has a duty more than ever to fulfill the responsibilities of his or her vocation and to say - when the State demands that which conflicts with moral truth - "We must obey God rather than men."

Will we have the courage, as Christians, to stand with Jesus? Will we risk being marginalized, persecuted and even put to death? Which is more important to us: friendship with the world or friendship with Christ? Many have already abandoned Our Lord and His Church. Some of these still warm a pew every Sunday. They remain "in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a 'bodily' manner" and not in their heart (See Lumen Gentium, No. 14).

2 comments:

Ellen Wironken said...

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. has provided us all with a marvellous example of Christian fortitude. Before being executed by a demonic anti-Christian State, he said: "We ought to speak, shout out against injustices, with confidence and without fear. We proclaim the principles of the Church, the reign of love, without forgetting that it is also a reig of justice."

He was then placed in front of a firing squad where, before his body was riddled with bullets, he cried out "Viva Christo Rey" - Long live Christ the King!

May we imitate this Blessed man of God.

Stewart said...

Blessed Miguel Pro was really heroic Ellen. For more information on this magnificent martyr for the faith, visit:
http://puffin.creighton.edu/
jesuit/pro/

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