Friday, August 03, 2007


I had a discussion today with my priest, and, he rightly criticized me for being a bit too self-righteous. But we did end up having a decent dialogue about the nature and purpose of intercessions.

I was looking at the Magnificat prayer book (one that I often refer to for intercessions), and found the following:

That government leaders will work to provide a just distribution of the
world's goods, remaining especially mindful of the poor.

I saw this and thought to myself "so, people are supposed to be distributed justly, interesting concept". Now, that thought may sound a bit weird to some, but, with a proper understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, it makes perfect sense.

One of the talks that Fr. Neuhaus gave us was on the idea of wealth. When reading Centissumus Annus by John Paul II, he explicitly (that is, leaves no room for error) states what is the wealth of the world, what its goods are. He states that wealth and goods are not based in material things, but in man. It is not money, or land, or technology that is the basis for our wealth, but ourselves.

Let us take an example that Fr. Neuhaus gave us. Silicon used to be absolutely worthless. It had almost no value at all. It wasn't because it was silicon that it was worthless, but rather because no one saw a purpose for it. Now, someone comes along and thinks "this would be a great thing to use in the construction of microchips". And boom, the value of silicon skyrockets. It's not because someone said "oh, silicon, based on its properties, has a value of x", but it is because someone came along and applied their gift of reason to the object and said "I can make you worth something". This is the value of wealth, man, not object.

This brings the above mentioned intercession into a greater context. Seeing that man is the source of wealth, standards of living, wealth (in the purely materialistic sense) are seen as having an endless opportunity for growth. This is the beauty of Catholic Social Doctrine. It does not say that there is a pie chart which states there is only x amount of wealth in the world, and thus that it is unfair since the rich have 80% of it, but rather the Church says there is no pie chart, but rather infinite access to opportunity.

This is why (and JP II talks about this a lot in Centissimus Annus) it is not right to send money to less developed nations. Money is not going to make them develope. Rather, what they need is access to training to see that the potential for economic prosperity is within themselves thanks to the gift of reason which God has given them. This is the true empowerment of the poor that the Church teaches.

And so, we ought to be weary when intercessory prayers are put within a box, because we must remember that the Church, in her adequate understanding of man, says that man is not constrained by a box, but only by his lack of willingness to use his reason.


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