The obelisk dominated by a cross represents a time of early Christianity when the Roman Empire was the leading power in civilization. Now, we are in very different times and the Church responds to that with charitable guidance and a renewed celebration of the same faith.
Welcome to the Year of Faith! Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, a council that sought to respond to the modern world by demonstrating that the faith and the Word of God is for every human.
The Church in the modern world is instructed to take careful care of its flock, with particular care for everyone as an individual. The pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes, Latin for Joy and Hope, reminds us of the importance of our exhaustive duties of charity as Christians and lays out our duties. Here are some of the document’s highlights:
–Science is good Remember that the Catholic Church, despite some scars in the scientific community, developed the higher education system and even the Big Bang Theory. “Man judges rightly that by his intellect he surpasses the material universe, for he shares in the light of the divine mind.” The Church teaches that legitimate science is done in accord with nature and can be used to advance society for the comfort of man, and not for selfish intentions. Our inclinations towards advancement indicate that we are always looking for a higher truth, which ultimately leads us to God.
–Good economic policies are tempered by a desire to appreciate human dignity The Church recognizes that we’re at a point of development in the world that history has never seen before. In complimenting the complexity of the human mind, the Church advocates the principle of subsidiarity which means that decisions should be made at the most local level they can competently be decided at. Furthermore, Gaudium et Spes lauds economic freedom, but warns there is a responsibility to ensure growth is done responsibility and with the principle of charity.
–Christian charity is not “superfluous” Charity is not a word that merely describes an action or an organization. It literally means “love.” Christians are called to serve others, and to freely give to those in need; however, we are not called to give just our pocket change. We are actually supposed to give in sacrifice which in turn is a beautiful way of taking a small share in Christ’s victory over the poverty of death.
–Politics is noble The Church is “at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person.” The Church and the State are separate, but that does not mean the Church is absent from advocacy. In fact, the document calls politics a “noble art” in which competent individuals should use their political skills to advocate with charity and “without regard for their own interests”