Alan Yoshioka Reviews THE CHURCH’S BEST-KEPT SECRET
Writing for the BC Catholic, which is for British Columbian Catholics, not those born in the first century before Jesus, he says:
Catholic Social Teaching has four pillars: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity. In these conflict-ridden times, we need this teaching as much as ever.
Catholic Social Teaching is thoroughly explained in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, one of those Church documents that only keeners are likely to read on their own, so I’m glad Mark has written such an accessible introduction to this important topic. The first time, I zipped through the book in two hours. I’ll also be returning to it, though, because there’s real depth here too.
For instance, I was already familiar with the basic principle of subsidiarity, which means trying to solve problems at the lowest and most local level that has the necessary capacity. I’d seen this, however, as simply commonsensical. New to me was that subsidiarity has a theological rationale: we’re being offered “the opportunity to act personally as a sacrament of God’s goodness and provision to the world.”
I had half-expected The Church’s Best-Kept Secret to be full of policy questions such as how health care should be provided. Instead, it asks what Scripture and Tradition tell us God is like. And then, in light of God’s generosity, what we can infer about how to act toward our neighbours.
Each of the four pillars of Catholic Social Teaching is explained in two short, balanced chapters: the first, to relate the pillar to God’s benevolent will; the second, to apply it to practical issues.
The book is written especially for readers in the United States, so Mark answers talking points that politically engaged Catholics there will find familiar. Though these applications may or may not be as directly relevant to those of us living here in B.C., their purpose is in any case to illustrate how to think with the Church in concrete situations.
The core of The Church’s Best-Kept Secret, like Catholic Social Teaching itself, is not limited to any particular time or place. Questions for discussion wrap up each chapter, so the book lends itself to use in study groups, a purpose I expect it will still be serving decades from now.
Publishing a book is like sending your precious 5-year-old to Kindergarten for the first time. You pray the other kids won’t beat him up, ostracize him, or make fun of him. When he comes home happily chattering about all the new friends he made and how much they like each other, you are grateful beyond words.
If you still haven’t made friends with my Kindergartner, you can order a copy right here, signed and everything!