Monday Reflection

Monday Reflection September 8, 2008

Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.[20] The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live “by bread alone” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.

Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est, paragraph 28b

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  • Please note that the context of the Holy Fathers reflections is primarily are European one. When he refers to “the State” he is assuming a settled order of government where nationalised and universal healthcare and freely avialable education are available to all without any big dispute. What he is objecting too is merely the tendency within such a context towards Erastianism, namely the idea that relgious values only apply to the world beyond. The Holy Father proclaims again and again, “Thy kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven.”