Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Social Wellsprings

Few Catholics truly understand the Social Doctrines of the Catholic Church. This may be in part because many of the best papal teachings on this subject have either been ignored or not widely read.

Father Joseph Husslein, S.J., tried very hard to remedy this situation with the publication of two books in 1940 dedicated to solving this problem. He gathered together all of the encyclicals by two popes, Leo XIII and Pius XI, who wrote much on the topic and made certain that the English translations were well organized, accurate, easily understandable and readable in translation.

He also made many notes that are helpful to the reader. The service he performed is treasured by all students of the Church's Social Doctrine and these two books, so long out of print, are now available again exactly as they were originally published.

If you have not read many of the encyclicals that were published before the Kantian and existentialist modernising of encyclical writing that took place after the Second Vatican Council you are in for a real treat! The brevity and clarity of the language will surprise you. Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI are no phenomenological exegetes. They speak the way one would expect a Vicar of Christ to speak, in clear, unambiguous, and manly language that is full of charity, pious unction and truth.

No one who reads these most important social encyclicals will come away confused. Be warned however; their brevity is deceptive. They are overflowing with profound insights and exhortations, therefore, small doses properly savored and meditated upon is the best way to imbibe the true wisdom and sound doctrine found within these two volumes.

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