This week we are looking at Part Two of the Encyclical subtitled Caritas The Practice of Love by the Church as a “Community of Love”. This is the third post on Deus Caritas Est by Benedict XVI.
The second part begins with tackling a huge topic how do we love in the world. Sure we can make our way through with the loving our neighbors as individuals but as a collective is where it gets a bit harder. I mean just look around the spectrum of the faith and you have people like Fr. Jim Martin SJ and Fr. John Zulsdorf not to mention those in between and other on the farther edges. We are all members of the same church and we “must practice love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community.” This idea is called koinonia the Greek term for fellowship/communion. This is where the church started as a small group of individuals who cared for each other. Sure the Church has grown but love/charity has always gone hand in hand with the Church. “The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable.”
We need to remember that we are not only called to serve those in the Church but also the world around us as seen in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Here Benedict points to Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and how it has been around for a while and can be considered a set of fundamental guidelines for the world on how to live. However it isn’t the task for the Church to make the world a better place it is up to all the laity in the world guided by the Bishops who should teach the laity what a just society looks like. We need States to start to bring love into practice just look how it’s been six months since Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria and there are still places without power. The world has gotten smaller and there are more places where our help is needed but Puerto Rico is basically home. Next Benedict looks at the charitable organizations of the church and some that have linked with governmental entities for the betterment of the world. We continue with a section with a call for prayer as it is still an important part of the charitable nature of the church. This idea is followed by the notion that the virtues (faith, hope, charity) all go together. Benedict ends this second part noting “Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present Encyclical.”