Only one block behind one of the most famed and architecturally impressive structures in all of history lays the body of a woman who shook the souls of those who encountered her. St. Catherine of Siena’s body (her head is at the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena) is underneath the high altar in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a minor basilica that belongs to the religious order to which she dedicated her life to, the Order of Preachers. Her body is approximately three kilometers away from the historic center of Rome as well as approximately three kilometers away from St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. There could be no more precise a location for the body of the woman who single-handedly restored the papacy to its rightful home. No person understood more profoundly the inseparable nature of Church, Tradition, the West, and Rome.
Beyond her saving negotiation skills to restore the papacy to the Eternal City when three “popes” competed for supremacy, St. Catherine of Siena reached spiritual heights that ought to be strived for. Not only a mystic, but one who experienced the gift of tears and understood the saving power of interior suffering, she was also named Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Although “Catherine knew great suffering” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, November 24, 2010), she shined with a joy that reflected the intensity to which her heart was conformed to the heart of Christ. Fr. George Rutler explains the joy of those sanctified, “The culminating evidence of sanctity is a joy that is not of this world. Saints always suffer in various ways as a consequence of their heroic virtue, which pits them against the ‘wickedness and snares of the Devil,’ but there is no such thing as a sad saint. The saints are proof of the existence of God and his mercy by their very lives, which are testimonies greater even than miracles or the logic of natural theology.” St. Catherine of Siena is the exemplary model who proves that holiness is happiness.
Her holiness came from nothing other than her devotion to the Eucharist. In his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict writes that “the Eucharist is at the root of every form of holiness.” He then offers the names of many saints that have inched toward perfection because of their Eucharistic devotions, among them St. Catherine of Siena. The Eucharist motivated each and every one of her actions and was the source of her supernatural joy.
Every word and teaching of St. Catherine of Siena ought to be read in light of her Eucharistic faith. Zealously, she once said, “Lord, I treasure your knowing how to give the world a kick” (Letter T360). St. Catherine of Siena believed, rather she knew to be true, that the Lord’s Supper, the Crucifixion, and Holy Mass are all one and the same and that the remarkable mystery of Christ present each and every day to the world in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is the life-giving reality of which anything is possible, but most importantly, the salvation of souls. This is the kick the Lord gives to the world. It manifests itself in many forms, but always originates from the Eucharist.
St. Catherine of Siena, ora pro nobis!
Tyler Lomnitzer is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and is a member of the Knights of Columbus at The Catholic University of America.
As the Church and world celebrate the canonization of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II today, it is important to note the significance of this day on which these canonizations are taking place, Divine Mercy Sunday. For St. John Paul II, the Mercy of God was an early and prevalent theme in his pontificate. In 1980, he issued the encyclical, Dives in Miseracordia, which not only views Jesus Christ as the “Incarnation of mercy” (2), but also teaches that mercy is “the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of His mission” (6). The ramification of such a bold way of describing mercy challenges human beings to move beyond a basic understanding of justice. He notes that “mercy has the power to confer on justice a new content, which is expressed most simply and fully in forgiveness” (14).
Forgiveness in an age of self-centeredness and rabid individualism is often seen as weakness. And yet, through the seeming weakness of the Cross, his “sorrowful passion,” forgiveness, love, and mercy are offered “to us and to the whole world” (Cf. Chaplet of Divine Mercy). They are confirmed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ who appears to his disciples and takes away all doubt, bringing peace to those in fear. All of the baptized are called to carry on this mission of Christ that offers mercy to a suffering and broken world. A life lived in mercy will lead to greater unity with one another. St. John Paul II when he canonized the visionary of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina Kowolska, and declared the Second Sunday of Easter, “Divine Mercy Sunday,” in the Jubilee Year of 2000, said in his homily that day, that Jesus “showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs…every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual” (Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, 4).
True and lasting forgiveness that leads to living a life of deeper compassion and mercy can only occur with trust. The Apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel passage did not trust the word of witness of his brothers and sisters in the Upper Room. He needed to experience the mercy of Jesus Christ for himself, as do we. It is only through a personal encounter with Christ as the Merciful One that we have the graced strength to say, “Jesus, I trust in You!”
Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C., D.Min. is Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center.
Click here for Canonization resources and a webinar on the new pope saints.
This blog post was first published earlier today on the St. Joseph’s College of Maine Theology Faculty Blog. Fr. Frank is an adjunct professor on both the undergraduate and graduate Theology faculties. Click here to learn more about our cooperative alliance with St. Joseph’s College Online.
As a catechetical leader in a parish, this is my first experience being involved in a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program. I am a cradle Catholic, born and raised in the Church, and have had no personal acquaintances go through the RCIA. This year, I have participated on a leadership team to observe how the RCIA is done catechetically. Now that the Easter Vigil has passed and the candidates have been fully initiated into the life of the Church, they are moving into mystagogy, a time where they will process what they have just gone through.
During this time studying the mystery of Christ and his life within us, I cannot help but see how God has formed me this year. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote, “You who are soon to be enlightened, already you are gathering the spiritual flowers, to weave heavenly crowns” (Catechetical Lectures, Prologue, 1). St. Cyril recognized that those who are initiated into the Church learn of Christ’s life within them through initiation at Easter. The “mystery” that we study during mystagogy is not up to us to be solved or remain unsolved. Rather, it is a mystery that we can continue to grow into throughout our lives. I, a lifelong Catholic, a member of the RCIA team, and graduate student in Theology, am still trying—with the grace of God—to weave my heavenly crown alongside those who have just joined the Church. We can all continue to grow in the mystery of our life in Christ.
Much of St. Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures to the neophytes have to do with turning away from sin, and choosing a heart of stone over a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). St. Cyril writes, “If any here is a slave of sin, let him promptly prepare himself through faith for the new birth into freedom and adoption” (Lecture 2). St. Cyril is not just addressing the newly baptized, but everyone in the congregation. Why should God forgive us who continue to sin? Why do we deserve such a freedom? How can we be adopted by God? What kind of love could overpower the sins I have committed? These are the mysteries that we reflect on in mystagogy. While candidates have a new-found life through baptism in Christ, we all renew our baptismal promises at Easter. We are all called to continue to reflect on the answers to those questions.
My experience as a team member with the RCIA has showed me that in bringing others into the Mystery, Christ is also calling me back to remember the Mystery of God’s love in my own life. Easter provides us the time to remember and renew our baptismal promises. In that renewal, we can remember that mystagogy is not just for the newly initiated, but for everyone. We can all grow in knowledge of the Mystery of Christ that we experience in the church at Easter and in our everyday lives.
Thomas Coast currently serves as an Apprentice Catechetical Leader in the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire. He is currently working on his Master’s Degree in theology through the University of Notre Dame’s Echo Program.
Alleluia! Doesn’t it feel great to be able to exclaim that again? After forty days of restraining ourselves from singing it either as part of a hymn or before the Gospel reading was proclaimed, we are finally permitted to once again raise our voices in this superlative expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph. In his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Soon-to-be Saint John Paul II boldly announced, "We are the Easter people and ‘Hallelujah’ is our song,” and as such, how can we keep from singing?
On Sunday we celebrated the Solemnity of Easter, the most important liturgical celebration of the year. So grand, so significant is Easter that each Sunday of the year is a reflection of this feast to some degree. Each and every holy sacrifice of the Mass, though, is a memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection (cf. CCC 1330). It is important, then, to realize what sets apart the celebration of Easter from the rest of the year, apart from the colorful dresses and elaborate dinners that have become traditional for this time of year.
On Good Friday, Jesus Christ, the Son of God sent to ransom the world for our sins, hung on the Cross and, after three hours of agony, “bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (Jn:19:30). Though Jesus had warned His followers of His necessary death, they were unable to understand what He was saying and were utterly shocked at what finally happened outside Jerusalem’s walls on that dark day. What a turn of events from when that very city had joyfully embraced Christ’s entrance only a few days earlier! Separated from their teacher and friend, and struggling to deal with the chaotic incomprehensibility of that Passover weekend, the disciples of the Lord locked themselves in the Upper Room of their Last Supper, fearful of what awaited them outside and in the future. Imagine their surprise, then, when Mary Magdalene burst into their presence and breathlessly announced that Jesus’ body had been taken from where it had been laid. Immediately, Peter and “the beloved disciple” ran to the tomb of Jesus, not prepared for what awaited them. What comes next would alter both their and our lives forever.
Jesus was dead. There was no doubt about that. The news that Jesus was not in His tomb must have inspired those two disciples with a much needed measure of hope, if not curiosity and wonder, as they boldly ran through the streets to see the sight for themselves. Jesus’ Resurrection was unprecedented, that is, totally and radically new— no one had ever been raised from the dead like this before! Though they were not yet able to fully express, let alone comprehend, what had happened, the disciples would have had their hearts aflame with the news, a combination of joy, relief, praise, excitement, comfort, and hope that needed to be shared with the other followers of the Risen One.
Upon their return to the Upper Room, Peter and the beloved disciple, along with Mary Magdalene and the other women with her, become the first evangelizers— proclaimers of the resurrected Christ to the world. Here we find the origins of the Resurrection language Christians used two millennia ago and continue to speak through today. As part of the New Evangelization, we too are called to share the Good News of Christ’s victory over death with everyone, friends and family, peers and enemies alike. It is impossible (if not selfish) to keep such wondrous news to ourselves— we need to share the joy and enthusiasm of the disciples as they gradually began to recognize the significance of the Resurrection, initially in the empty tomb and later through their encounters with the living Jesus. How, then, can we ever become complacent in our celebrations of Easter? In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we anticipate Christ’s first coming into the world with carols, treats, and gift-giving. Easter is so much more important! As the Catechism states:
“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised… The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (651, 654)
It is often said that without Easter there would be no Christmas (Or Good Friday). This day celebrates the most important event in all of history, when our lives were changed forever. Now living in the promise of eternal life, we are called to obey Christ’s great Commission, to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt: 28:19) This isn’t confined to the octave of Easter (which is technically an eight-day celebration) or one liturgical season, but each and every moment of our lives, through our thoughts, words, and actions. The Resurrection of Jesus is not merely a moment in time, but the very definition of time itself. No matter how dark or painful our lives may seem, we can find comfort in the joys of Easter and carry the spark of that day each day of our lives, to be shared with all. Let us cry out in song that Christ has been raised from the dead: Alleluia!
Thomas Wong is a student at The Catholic University of America and a member of the Catholic University Knights of Columbus.
Holy Saturday is one of my favorite days of the Liturgical Year. Since donning my first monastic-style altar server alb shortly after my First Communion, the celebration of the Sacred Paschal Triduum is not only the apex of the liturgical year, but mine as well. I always look forward to the day when Christ is in the tomb and we joyfully await the great Easter Vigil after sundown, with its elements that illuminate all of our senses.
Before we can glory in the Resurrection of the Redeemer, we must first wait in prayerful expectation while Christ is asleep in the tomb. The most poignant illustration of this anticipated celebration is from an “ancient homily on Holy Saturday,” written by an author forgotten by the centuries, and featured prominently in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours on Holy Saturday:
"Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear."
"He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: "And with your spirit." He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.""
We wait in joyful anticipation for the chanting of “Lumen Christi--The Light of Christ” that pierces the darkness and the solemn intoning of the Exsultet, the great Easter Proclamation during the Easter Vigil. In the Exsultet, we join in praying in the midst of the newly lit paschal candle, “This is the night of which it is written: The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness. … May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son…” "
Together, we pray that Christ, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, may illumine our way through the darkness until we rejoice tonight in the splendor of the Vigil of Vigils, the holiest night of the Church year. Until then we wait, for something strange is happening.
Alex R. Boucher is the Program & Operations Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center. Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexBoucher.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on March 30, 2013
On April 13, 1742 in Dublin, Ireland, Handel’s famous oratorio Messiah was premiered. Surprised? When we think of the Messiah we immediately think of Christmastime. Woe to the city orchestra that dares pass the holiday season without at least one performance of one of western music’s most beloved pieces. Yet, far from being a Nativity carol, the Messiah is truly an Easter gift.
Part II of the oratorio closes with one of the most well known choruses, “Hallelujah.” It occurs during scene seven, titled “God’s ultimate victory.” This follows scenes dedicated to the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ.
For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
The kingdom of this world; Is become
The kingdom of our Lord, And of His Christ
And He shall reign for ever and ever
King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
And lord of lords forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
And he shall reign forever and ever
At the beginning of Holy Week, we celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, humbly on a donkey. We are then invited to journey with him. We are there at the Last Supper when the Eucharist is instituted. We stand with the Blessed Mother and John the Evangelist at the foot of the Cross. We mourn Jesus’ death with them. We are asked, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” But then, at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday, we rejoice at the news that the tomb is empty. Christ is risen, he is truly risen. At Mass, we do not exclaim “Alleluia” just once. We proclaim it three times.
The “Hallelujah” Chorus presents us with what the Triduum and Easter are all about. Christ, through his sacrifice on Good Friday, he takes on the sins of the world and opens Heaven up for the faithful. In his Resurrection on Easter Sunday, death is overcome. In conquering both sin and death, Jesus truly becomes the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. His rule knows no end, for he reigns for all time.
Tradition dictates that when the chorus is sung, all must stand out of reverence for the Messiah. During the Easter season, and indeed all our lives, we too must stand and journey with Christ. By doing so, we take part in that kingdom of our Lord. By doing so, we remain close to the Lord of Lords. By doing so, we can be part of the heavenly chorus that forever sings, “Hallelujah!”
Victor David is a Senior at The Catholic University of America and Trustee of the Knights of Columbus at Catholic University.
The last week of Lent had me thinking really hard, not just because Holy week was fast approaching and I needed to decide which Mass to attend on Palm Sunday, but because this past weekend I was giving a talk at my fourth and final Catholic Daughters of the Americas retreat. My talk was going to be about Lent (obviously) but more specifically, giving things up for Lent.
I ended up writing a thousand words on the last 12 years of my life—what I gave up for Lent each year and what I got out of it. I talked to my friends in Catholic Daughters about my lack of understanding when it comes to Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice, and how lent is a time to strive to understand that and to strengthen our relationship with Christ. My talk culminated in my revelation that adding something to my life during Lent, rather than giving something up (I had tried giving up soda and peanut butter cups) helped me to understand Jesus’ sacrifice for us and to strengthen my relationship with God. I shared with them my experience doing community service and how I my attempt to added more prayer to my daily life as an attempt to do this. I found that daily prayer was ultimately the best way for me to strengthen my relationship with God and when I walked into church on Sunday I felt more at home because I had never ended the conversation I started with God the week before—I had continued it every night while fulfilling my Lenten promise to pray. I asked my fellow Catholic Daughters what they had given up for Lent and how this might strengthen their relationship with God. What I did not realize until after I shared my own Lenten experience with them is that finding what works for me during Lent is only the first step.
Yes, I had graduated from giving up soda and candy for forty days in the Spring and grown to making a personal commitment to talk to God more, but why? What was it for? I realized this Saturday as I sat among my friends who I’m about to leave (springtime and looming graduation fills me with a large dose of nostalgia) that I strengthen my relationship with God so that I can help them strengthen theirs as well. Sometime we don’t realize the impact and influence we have on those around us.
Lent is a time to reflect on our faith and how we practice it. Many people do to intensify their practice of the their Faith during Lent, whether it be attending daily Mass, going to Confession or simply getting back in the habit of going to Sunday Mass. In the beginning, I added daily prayer to my life during Lent for myself. But, I now see that in strengthening my own relationship with God I have acquired the tools and experience to help my peers grow closer to God as well—and I should do that! As Lent comes to a close and Holy Week begins, I challenge you to find a way to use your personal growth during Lent to help those around you. How can you be a positive presence in the lives of those around you?
Eileen Welch is a senior at The Catholic University of America and the Regent of Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Court Catholic University.
Is anyone else feeling kind of burned out? I know I am! It's certainly getting to that time of the year. For those of us in school, finals are looming and the papers and projects are piling up, and college seniors are getting ever closer to their graduation date, which means realizing that the real world is almost here. For those in the professional world, it is tax time, which adds to the level of anxiousness. For us as Catholics, we’re also reaching the end of our Lenten journey, and even that can make us feel tired. Easter is just around the corner and it is easy to get lost in the preparations that surround this. We plan celebrations to spend time with those we love, and we can easily get lost in the stress of getting ready for Easter.
Being stressed can feel overwhelming. When I feel stressed it can be hard to take a step back and look objectively at all the things I have to do. Everyone has different ways to manage stress. Some people like lists and prioritizing tasks. Others need to take time to relax before tackling large projects. One of the things I have found that helps me is praying the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
There are some things that we are stressed about that we can change. We can work on our time management so big projects don’t pile up. Proactivity can do wonders for stopping stress before it happens. But often in life there are things that stress us out where there is no immediate fix. It is these times that the serenity prayer is especially applicable. Worrying sometimes does more harm to our mental health than anything else. It is in these times of worry where we need to turn to God for help. Taking time during especially stressful points in our life to turn to God in prayer can make all the difference.
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday and we will hear the gospel reading of Christ’s Passion. As we end our Lenten journey, remember that Christ suffered for us and suffers with us. We are not on this journey alone, even though it is easy to feel alone when we’re especially busy. Keep Christ in all that you do, especially during the stressful times. As we move into the Easter season, try not to get lost in the stress. Take time to remember what Easter celebrates and feel the joy that comes with the Lord’s resurrection!
Rebecca Ruesch is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center
For our community service we visited the Waterman Nursing Center here in San Bernardino, Ca. My fellow students from the University of Redlands put on various activities for the elders. We made valentine cards, some played card games, and we also had nail painting for the old ladies. It was a lot of fun!
This was actually our third time visiting the Waterman Nursing Center as a group. I was really excited to see familiar faces from previous occasions. What is so significant about our service at the Center is that we are able to experience Jesus’ presence just by being there and sharing time. It’s quite a humbling experience. Sometimes it may be hard to communicate with some of the residents because of their health condition, but that doesn’t mean that there is no connection. On the contrary, I feel like there is a greater connection that goes beyond the superficial level. I don't really know how to explain this.
I say this because there is this particular lady who I always see. She loves to get her nails done and her favorite color is red. Every time I see her I get the chance to spend some time with her and do her nails. On this day, since we had the opportunity to make valentine cards I decided to make her a card, and as I was making her the card she was telling me how she recognized me when I said my name and that she was really happy to see me again. This was significant to me because it reassures that there is a special connection even though we may not say much. For example, sometime it is hard for me to understand what she is saying so we may just exchange a few words and smiles and not really have much conversation but, I can still feel joy and love just by being there with her. When she told me that my presence was appreciated, it was reassuring to know that she felt the same way. It’s truly a blessing to visit these people. I think it is amazing how we can all experience God's presence (love) through service. They may not all be that same experiences but, you can definitely see God through them.
Service to me means having an open heart to serve others in whatever their needs are, and it can be as simple as sharing time with the elders.
Jessica is a sophomore studying at the University of Redlands. She also plays a leadership role in her campus ministry, serving as a Campus Recruitment Associate through CVN's partnership with Catholic Extension.
This post was originally written and posted on the Catholic Volunteer Network Blog.
For more Catholic Volunteer Blog Posts please visit the CVN Blog Page.
The Catholic Apostolate Center is proud to partner with the Catholic Volunteer Network by developing faith formation resources for volunteers and alumni, assisting in its efforts to provide and advocate for faith-based volunteerism and collaborate in many additional ways.
"The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death" (Porta Fidei, 13)
Death is often something that we do not like to discuss, especially in the context of the New Evangelization. These two concepts might seem like they don’t mix well, but I hope to show how they are. It is quite natural that we try to deflect the topic of death and dying and why we do not want to face the reality of a difficult situation. But, when death comes into our lives we have no control and it is something that we must handle. After the wake and the funeral are over, and the family goes home, the void is sill there. The sense of loss does not want to go away and it seems like we cannot move on from the loss.
On March 7th, I went though this pain for the fourth time this past year with the passing of my paternal grandfather and namesake. I lost two grandfathers, a cousin, and a close family friend who I consider more like an uncle. Each of these individuals have greatly impacted my life and I would not be who I am without them. Recently I have done a lot of reflecting on what these lives have meant to me. Time and time again I go back to the number of lessons that my grandfathers' have taught me. They taught me some of the classics like fishing, a love for music and art, gardening and the importance of a good cup of British Tea or Italian coffee.
But it was not these lessons that are the most import that matter. These two men also taught me the importance of family, tradition, love, and faith. My maternal grandfather was a great lover of music; he was singer and a violinist. He introduced me to the Masses written by Mozart, Beethoven, and Verdi. Through his love, he showed me how music can represent a love for God and his creation. Music has come to affect my life and how I pray to God. He broadened my horizons and taught me about musical tradition that dated back centuries, and his love for this went far beyond the music itself. It helped one transport oneself to become close with God. My paternal grandfather taught me two different aspects of faith: a devotion to Mary and the importance of service. He suffered from Alzheimer's disease, which caused great pain and eventually an almost complete loss of memory. There were only four things he could remember before he passed away; his brother, his wife (my grandmother), his personal motto, which was “great and grateful no matter what”, and how to pray the Hail Mary. His devotion to the Blessed Mother was a quiet one. His service to others was like his devotion, a quiet one. He was just as happy serving on a board of trustees or picking up trash at the church picnic as long as it helped others.
On the night before my paternal grandfather's funeral, one of our parish priests began the prayer vigil. He offered a short reflection on what this meant and there was a part of it that has stuck with me. This young priest said that our relationship with the dead was not over, but rather was changed. The relationship was now through the eternity of Jesus Christ. Our faith teaches us that Christ connects us regardless of time and that life continues after death. The New Evangelization is a reminder of this hope and comfort. Pope Emeritus Benedict got this right in Porta Fidei, it is the joy of love that conquers death and gives us hope. This hope is found in our faith, and fills the void from the loss. While the sting of death will always be present, it is Christ, who walks with us at every step, who takes away the sting and returns our capacity to love one another.
Pat Fricchione is the Research and Production Associate for the Catholic Apostolate Center
"Business is a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by greater meaning in life; this will enable them truly to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all"
(Evangelii Gaudium, 203).
Catholic Social Teaching is a core component of our Catholic faith. Its principles are rooted in the dignity of every human person and bring us together as a community, while creating relationships of love and respect. A few of the basic concepts that it encompasses are the life and dignity of the human person, a call to family and community, a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, the dignity of work, and a care for God’s creation. We are called to uphold these principles in every area of our lives, not only in our personal affairs, but in our professional lives as well. It is easy to see how these Catholic principles can be applied to the way we interact with customers, coworkers, and shareholders.
Businesses are commonly seen as seeking only to achieve higher profit margins, line the pockets of the executives, and expand their market share. By our Catholic standards, this is not an ethical foundation or what the purpose of any organization should be. The objective of a business should be to advance society by using its core competencies to fulfill a need, providing something valuable for society. This is not to say that businesses should not be profitable. Without profits, a company cannot exist. Instead of defining a company’s success solely by its profits, it should also be defined based on the value it adds to society and the way it treats any and all parties affected by its decisions. In other words, businesses should aim to serve the common good.
One of the biggest competitive advantages is creating good relationships with stakeholders—any of those who are affected by a company’s business decisions. Whether the quality of its goods and services are high or its prices are competitive, good relationships with stakeholders are invaluable and often lead to higher market share for these companies. Therefore, applying the principles of Catholic Social Teaching is also beneficial to the business’ success and, in turn, the success of the shareholders.
Today’s business world is highly competitive. As technology advances, businesses are required to act quickly when new ideas arise to obtain market share and stay afloat against competitors. With this need for quickly evolving business strategies also comes a tendency toward bending the rules and taking any measure necessary to beat out competitors. This can give a company a negative image, which is often difficult to reverse. On the other hand, a company that fights these temptations and follows the principles of Catholic Social Teaching will likely see success. Businesses should not be looked at as profit mongers, but instead as organizations who further develop society for the better. They must create this positive image, and as stakeholders we have a responsibility to hold companies accountable for their decisions and demand that they uphold ethical standards.
For a good article on the Catholic University of America's recently formed School of Business and Economics, click here.
Also, be sure to check out the Catholic Apostolate Center's resources on Catholic Social teaching by clicking here.
Amanda White is a graduate of The Catholic University of America's School of Business and Economics