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May, 2015 – War Fought on the Shoulders of the Poor

1) Introduction:
Untitled-2As people connected in some way to the event of La Salette and our Weeping Mother, we know well from her example at La Salette that we are called as reconcilers to respond compassionately to the needy as she did with the two children, Maximin and Melanie. The following are prayerful reflections titled, La Salette 2015 – Justice, Peace, Reconciliation: Let Us Respond to the Cry of the Poor.

They are offered in seven languages so that all La Salette Missionaries, and those laity connected with us, can celebrate the wisdom and challenge of our Catholic Social Teaching during this year. These materials can be used – as a whole or in part – for personal prayer or in our ministries or communities to begin meetings, prayer groups, or in gatherings for religious education.

2) Faith Sharing:
Scripture: Matthew 25:41-45 (The judgment of the nations)

Jesus said: Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

Reading: Message of Pope Benedict XVI on 2009 World Day of Peace (January 1, 2009), #6

Untitled-3A fourth area needing particular attention from the moral standpoint is the relationship between disarmament and development. The current level of world military expenditure gives cause for concern. As I have pointed out before, it can happen that “immense military expenditure, involving material and human resources and arms, is in fact diverted from development projects for peoples, especially the poorest who are most in need of aid…

What is more, an excessive increase in military expenditure risks accelerating the arms race, producing pockets of underdevelopment and desperation, so that it can paradoxically become a cause of instability, tension and conflict. As my venerable Predecessor Paul VI wisely observed, “the new name for peace is development”. States are therefore invited to reflect seriously on the underlying reasons for conflicts, often provoked by injustice, and to practice courageous self-criticism. If relations can be improved, it should be possible to reduce expenditure on arms. The resources saved could then be earmarked for development projects to assist the poorest and most needy individuals and peoples: efforts expended in this way would be efforts for peace within the human family.

Quiet Reflection


Reflection Questions:

• From Matthew’s passage concerning the Last Judgment, what do you learn about Jesus’ expected response from us with regard to those in need? Can you think of a contemporary “good example” of someone doing something for “these least ones”?
• Are you aware of any “war fought on the shoulders of the poor”? Where did this happen and what were some of its bad effects on the poor?
• Other comments?


3) Concluding Prayer:

Prayer for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation


Untitled-4Leader: We offer our prayers and those of our fellow humans around the world,

especially those in crisis, abandoned, displaced or otherwise in need:
That our real, concrete efforts to love our neighbor
may put an end to the numerous wars and conflicts
which continue to bloody our world. We pray:

All:       Lord, lift up your people.

Leader: That every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism

may be met by constant respect, by just resistance
and by dialogue among all believers. We pray:

All:       Lord, lift up your people.

Leader: That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion

for better understanding the situation of unease and pain
which is the lot of many people who are alone, poor, sick or aged,
and stir us all to give them generous help. We pray:

All:       Lord, lift up your people.

Leader: That victims of drugs or of other dependencies may,

with the support of the Christian community,
find in the power of our saving God
strength for a radical conversion of life. We pray:

All:       Lord, lift up your people.

(Other intentions shared freely)

Leader: We now pray together the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

All:       Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony; where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Leader: Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of Sinners,
All: Pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to you.

4) Learning More… (optional)

Catholic Social Teaching on Peace, Justice and the Poor

a) What is the Church’s understanding of “peace”?

• The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity” (#2304).
• Pope Paul VI added: “For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men” (Populorum Progessio, #76).

b) Why is the effort at attaining peace tied so closely to justice?

The subtitle of Pope Paul VI’s message of the Day of Peace in 1972 was, “If you want peace, work for justice.” To take this idea a step further, Pope Saint John Paul II in his encyclical, “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (The Social Concern of the Church)”, states that: Untitled-5

“the solidarity which we propose is the path to peace and at the same time to development… The goal of peace, so desired by everyone, will certainly be achieved through the putting into effect of social and international justice, but also through the practice of the virtues which favor togetherness, and which teach us to live in unity, so as to build in unity, by giving and receiving, a new society and a better world” (#39).

c) How did Pope Saint John XXIII view the image of the Church?

In his address on Sept. 11, 1962, just one month before the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Saint John XXIII stated that: “Where the underdeveloped countries are concerned, the Church presents herself as she is. She wishes to be the Church of all, and especially the Church of the poor.”

d) What is meant by the “preferential option for the poor”?

A basic moral test of society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation.

The option for the poor is a perspective that examines personal decisions, policies of private and public institutions, and economic relationships in terms of their effects on the poor: those who lack the minimum necessities of nutrition, housing, education, and health care; those who are marginalized and whose rights are denied have privileged claims if society is to provide justice for all.

The obligation to evaluate social and economic activity from the viewpoint of the poor and the powerless arises from the radical command of Jesus to love one's neighbor as one's self. The option for the poor is an essential part of society's effort to achieve the common good. A healthy community can be achieved only if its members give special attention to those with special needs, to those who are poor and on the margins of society.

As Pope Saint John Paul II added, “Today, furthermore, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care and, above all, those without hope of a better future. It is impossible not to take account of the existence of these realities. To ignore them would mean becoming like the "rich man" who pretended not to know the beggar Lazarus lying at his gate (cf. Lk 16:19-31)” (Solicitudo Rei Socialis, #42).

Reflection Questions:

• What more is needed for peace – beyond the cessation of war? Why?
• In what concrete ways can the “preferential option for the poor” be practiced?
• Other comments...

Source: 4d from: “Key Principles of Catholic Social Teaching”, Catholic Charities Office for Social Justice, St. Paul, MN.