Five years ago, I taught a multi-part course at our parish on Catholic social teaching, which is the Church’s wisdom about building a just society. I was so excited about the topic since it had deeply affected me. A few years earlier, as a Protestant college-student bent on changing the world, I discovered these teachings and they blew me away. I read the relevant encyclicals, studied the principles, and saw them lived out in people like Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and Dorothy Day. They ended up playing a crucial role in my conversion to Catholicism.
Yet since becoming Catholic, I’ve discovered just how controversial Catholic social teaching can be. Whenever I express excitement about these teachings I’m often met with nervous glances or heavy sighs. Thanks to years of distortion and confusion, many Catholics literally cringe at their mention.
Part of the problem is that certain groups have hijacked them for their own political or social purposes. Some have co-opted key terms like “social justice” and assigned them new meanings far different than the Church’s. These distortions have understandably made people wary. One popular TV commentator actually told his millions of viewers:
“I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!…If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, ‘Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?’ I don’t care what the church is…[I]f they say, ‘Yeah, we’re all in that social justice thing,’ I’m in the wrong place.”
This puts Catholics in a very difficult position since that exact phrase, “social justice,” appears no less than 116 times in the Church’s official, magisterial teachings. It appears the Catholic Church is “down with this whole social justice thing,” and if that’s the case, we need to know what she means when she says it.
Another problem I discovered was that there just aren’t a lot of solid, practical resources available on Catholic social teaching. Most books are either too academic or too abstract (or sometimes both), but few explain how ordinary Catholics can apply this wisdom to their own lives.
So with these problems in mind, I followed a principle that Peter Kreeft operates by: I wrote the book I wanted to read, but that didn’t yet exist. I craved a book that would rehabilitate Catholic social teaching, present it clearly and authentically, illuminate it with our great Tradition, and reveal simple, practical ways to live it out. But since it didn’t exist, I set out to write it.
The book aims to reclaim Catholic social teaching and unveil it through the lives of the saints. It’s framed using the seven major themes of Catholic social teaching, as defined by the U.S. bishops, and for each theme I highlight two saints who especially embodied it.
The resulting book is a narrative packed with stories, from those saints and others in the sidebars, of people putting these teachings into action.
My hope is that the book imitates stained glass windows throughout the world, using the saints as conduits of light, allowing these brilliant social teachings to shine through them with new vividness, splendor, and truth.
Here’s the book’s outline:
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- CH 1 – Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
- CH 2 – St. Peter Claver
- Call to Family, Community, and Participation
- CH 3 – St. Frances of Rome
- CH 4 – Bl. Anne-Marie Javouhey
- Rights and Responsibilities
- CH 5 - St. Roque Gonzalez
- CH 6 – St. Thomas More
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- CH 7 – Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
- CH 8 – St. Vincent de Paul
- Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
- CH 9 – St. Benedict of Nursia
- CH 10 – Servant of God Dorothy Day
- CH 11 – Pope St. John Paul II
- CH 12 – St. Damien of Molokai
- Care for Creation
- CH 13 – St. Giles
- CH 14 – St. Isidore the Farmer
But here’s the really big news: the book just went live on Amazon.com, and for a limited time you can pre-order the eBook version for just $3.19. That’s cheaper than a Big Mac, a Starbucks latte, or a movie ticket. From what I know, it’s the best book deal Our Sunday Visitor has ever offered in its hundred year history.
However, this crazy-good bargain will only be available for a short time. You’ll want to pre-order the eBook now before it jumps back to $9.99. You won’t be charged until the book actually launches, but you’ll lock in the low price. When it does launch, you’ll automatically receive the eBook on your device within seconds.
Of course, you can always pre-order the paperback version, if you prefer. But you’ll never find a deal as good as the eBook pre-order.
Since Amazon officially “counts” pre-orders on a book’s release date, our goal is to drum up tons of pre-orders so that when the book launches it will arrive with lots of buzz and shoot up the Amazon bestseller ranks. That will help get it noticed by more people and thus get Catholic social teaching into the hands (and e-readers) of more people.
Here’s the book’s official description:
Catholic social teaching has explosive power for changing not just individuals, but whole societies. And it’s the saints who light the fuse.
The value of human life. The call to family and community. Serving the poor. The rights of workers. Care for creation.
The church has always taught certain undeniable truths that can and should affect our society. But over the years, these teachings have been distorted, misunderstood, and forgotten.
With the help of fourteen saints, it’s time we reclaim Catholic social teaching and rediscover it through the lives of those who best lived it out. Follow in the saints’ footsteps, learn from their example, and become the spark of authentic social justice that sets the world on fire.
So click here to pre-order your copy for the absurdly low price of $3.19, and please help spread the word by sharing the link (http://bvogt.us/saintsbook) through your blog, email, Facebook, or Twitter page.