19 September, 2019
One of the frequent laments heard since the Second Vatican Council is that Catholics have forgotten their centuries-old heritage, and as a result, that heritage has not been transmitted to new generations of the faithful. Things that Catholics took for granted in the 1950s and earlier, such as knowledge of basic doctrine, familiarity with forms of prayers, such as the Rosary, and with sacramentals such as the brown Scapular or the Miraculous Medal - so many younger Catholics know little or nothing of these and hence have been robbed of so much of their religious heritage. And this is a lament that I fully agree with. But there is another aspect of the Faith and its practice which we contemporary Catholics have also largely forgotten. This is the Church's commitment to the social apostolate, championed so boldly by the popes since Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, but now, in the dreary culture war that afflicts the United States, either lost sight of or even labeled as socialistic. Our Catholic forebears were not socialists, but as supporters of the social doctrine of the Church they were often radicals, and we have forgotten just how radical they were.