The Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker
Belloc note-I disagree with CW on Death penalty and pacifism

The Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker
Reprinted from The Catholic Worker newspaper, May 2008
The aim of the Catholic Worker movement is to live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ. Our sources are the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures as handed down in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, with our inspiration coming from the lives of the saints, "men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses to Your unchanging love." (Eucharistic Prayer)

This aim requires us to begin living in a different way. We recall the words of our founders, Dorothy Day who said, "God meant things to be much easier than we have made them," and Peter Maurin who wanted to build a society "where it is easier for people to be good."

* * *
When we examine our society, which is generally called capitalist (because of its methods of producing and controlling wealth) and is bourgeois (because of prevailing concern for acquisition and material interests, and its emphasis on respectability and mediocrity), we find it far from God's justice.

--In economics, private and state capitalism bring about an unjust distribution of wealth, for the profit motive guides decisions. Those in power live off the sweat of others' brows, while those without power are robbed of a just return for their work. Usury (the charging of interest above administrative costs) is a major contributor to the wrongdoing intrinsic to this system. We note, especially, how the world debt crisis leads poor countries into greater deprivation and a dependency from which there is no foreseeable escape. Here at home, the number of hungry and homeless and unemployed people rises in the midst of increasing affluence.

--In labor, human need is no longer the reason for human work. Instead, the unbridled expansion of technology, necessary to capitalism and viewed as "progress," holds sway. Jobs are concentrated in productivity and administration for a "high-tech," war-related, consumer society of disposable goods, so that laborers are trapped in work that does not contribute to human welfare. Furthermore, as jobs become more specialized, many people are excluded from meaningful work or are alienated from the products of their labor. Even in farming, agribusiness has replaced agriculture, and, in all areas, moral restraints are run over roughshod, and a disregard for the laws of nature now threatens the very planet.

--In politics, the state functions to control and regulate life. Its power has burgeoned hand in hand with growth in technology, so that military, scientific and corporate interests get the highest priority when concrete political policies are formulated. Because of the sheer size of institutions, we tend towards government by bureaucracy--that is, government by nobody. Bureaucracy, in all areas of life, is not only impersonal, but also makes accountability, and, therefore, an effective political forum for redressing grievances, next to impossible.

--In morals, relations between people are corrupted by distorted images of the human person. Class, race and sex often determine personal worth and position within society, leading to structures that foster oppression. Capitalism further divides society by pitting owners against workers in perpetual conflict over wealth and its control. Those who do not "produce" are abandoned, and left, at best, to be "processed" through institutions. Spiritual destitution is rampant, manifested in isolation, madness, promiscuity and violence.

--The arms race stands asa clear sign of the direction and spirit of our age. It has extended the domain of destruction and the fear of annihilation, and denies the basic right to life. There is a direct connection between the arms race and destitution. "The arms race is an utterly treacherous trap, and one which injures the poor to an intolerable degree." (Vatican II)

* * *
In contrast to what we see around us, as well as within ourselves, stands St. Thomas Aquinas' doctrine of the Common Good, a vision of a society where the good of each member is bound to the good of the whole in the service of God.

To this end, we advocate:

--Personalism, a philosophy which regards the freedom and dignity of each person as the basis, focus and goal of all metaphysics and morals. In following such wisdom, we move away from a self-centered individualism toward the good of the other. This is to be done by taking personal responsibility for changing conditions, rather than looking to the state or other institutions to provide impersonal "charity." We pray for a Church renewed by this philosophy and for a time when all those who feel excluded from participation are welcomed with love, drawn by the gentle personalism Peter Maurin taught.

--A decentralized society, in contrast to the present bigness of government, industry, education, health care and agriculture. We encourage efforts such as family farms, rural and urban land trusts, worker ownership and management of small factories, homesteading projects, food, housing and other cooperatives--any effort in which money can once more become merely a medium of exchange, and human beings are no longer commodities.

--A "green revolution," so that it is possible to rediscover the proper meaning of our labor and/or true bonds with the land; a distributist communitarianism, self-sufficient through farming, crafting and appropriate technology; a radically new society where people will rely on the fruits of their own toil and labor; associations of mutuality, and a sense of fairness to resolve conflicts.

* * *
We believe this needed personal and social transformation should be pursued by the means Jesus revealed in His sacrificial love. With Christ as our Exemplar, by prayer and communion with His Body and Blood, we strive for practices of

--Nonviolence. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." (Matt. 5:9) Only through nonviolent action can a personalist revolution come about, one in which one evil will not be replaced simply by another. Thus, we oppose the deliberate taking of human life for any reason, and see every oppression as blasphemy. Jesus taught us to take suffering upon ourselves rather than inflict it upon others, and He calls us to fight against violence with the spiritual weapons of prayer, fasting and noncooperation with evil. Refusal to pay taxes for war, to register for conscription, to comply with any unjust legislation; participation in nonviolent strikes and boycotts, protests or vigils; withdrawal of support for dominant systems, corporate funding or usurious practices are all excellent means to establish peace.

--The works of mercy (as found in Matt. 25:31-46) are at the heart of the Gospel and they are clear mandates for our response to "the least of our brothers and sisters." Houses of hospitality are centers for learning to do the acts of love, so that the poor can receive what is, in justice, theirs, the second coat in our closet, the spare room in our home, a place at our table. Anything beyond what we immediately need belongs to those who go without.

--Manual labor, in a society that rejects it as undignified and inferior. "Besides inducing cooperation, besides overcoming barriers and establishing the spirit of sister and brotherhood (besides just getting things done), manual labor enables us to use our bodies as well as our hands, our minds." (Dorothy Day) The Benedictine motto Ora et Labora reminds us that the work of human hands is a gift for the edification of the world and the glory of God.

--Voluntary poverty. "The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge and belief in love." (Dorothy Day) By embracing voluntary poverty, that is, by casting our lot freely with those whose impoverishment is not a choice, we would ask for the grace to abandon ourselves to the love of God. It would put us on the path to incarnate the Church's "preferential option for the poor."

* * *
We must be prepared to accept seeming failure with these aims, for sacrifice and suffering are part of the Christian life. Success, as the world determines it, is not the final criterion for judgments. The most important thing is the love of Jesus Christ and how to live His truth.
Publication (A higher score indicates a document is likely to be more relevant to your search.) 
On Pilgrimage,
June  DOC #481, Score = 90.17
Summary: Describes the hustle and bustle around the farm--planting, building, cooking. Ruminates about conversion, calling each person to a revolution beginning with themselves--to make a start toward a new way of living based on distributism. Says distributism is neither communism nor capitalism but based on individual ownership of land, tools, workshops, and factories. Keyword: economics

"Articles on Distributism - 2"  DOC #160, Score = 87.89
Summary: Argues that distributism is the only alternative to the US economy. Distributism is an alternative to capitalism and socialism built around "the village economy" and a more just distribution of wealth. Quotes four modern Popes in its support. Summarizes its principles with the following Statements: "land is the most natural form of property" "wages should enable man to purchase land" "the family is the most perfect when rooted in its own holdings" "agriculture is the first and most important of all arts." (See also DOC #159 and DOC #161)

"All the Way to Heaven is Heaven"  DOC #159, Score = 86.56
Summary: First of a series of articles on distributism (see DOC #160 & DOC #161). Against the backdrop of harsh city life she points to life on the land as a way to find zest in life. Distributism is a third point of view, neither Communism or capitalism. "The aim of distributism is family ownership of land, workshops, stores, transport, trades, professions, and so on." Recommends reading Belloc and Chesterson as an introduction to it.

"Distributism Is Not Dead"  DOC #244, Score = 85.12
Summary: Reaffirms the distributist economic vision of property and work against critics while acknowledging "It needs to be constantly rewritten, re-assessed, restated…" Comments on Chesterton and Dickens in relation to renewing distributism.

On Pilgrimage  DOC #5, Score = 83.51
Summary: States the objectives of the C.W. and defends it against the accusations of other Catholics and secular thought. Writes on such themes as marriage, sex, 10VQ' human condition, poverty, economics and a variety of Church doctrines. All of these topics are treated from an orthodox Catholic point of view. The book is adapted from the diary she kept in 1948, when she spent the first four months with Tamar (daughter) and the rest of the year at Mott street and the retreat farm in Newburgh. She noted that the book could be called a woman's book, since parts of it are directed solely to women. As usual, much of the book dwells on the day to day happenings in her life.

On Pilgrimage,
May  DOC #480, Score = 79.67
Summary: Praises God for May, the month of Mary and full of beauty. Recalls the Catholic Worker began in May sixteen years ago and summarizes their program and the many allied movements of the lay apostolate. Says their pacifism and distributism distinguishes them from other movements. Focuses on voluntary poverty as exemplified in Peter Maurin's life, especially since he became ill. Reflects on holiness and the call to all to become saints. Includes quotations from her winter's reading. Keywords: Gandhi, machine, philosophy of work

On Pilgrimage,
January  DOC #476, Score = 79.67
Summary: Deep in Winter at her daughter's farm in West Virginia they await the birth of Tamar's third child. Reflects on country life and a woman's spirituality in the midst of small children and housework. Describes her efforts at prayer. Reflects on the handicrafts Tamar practices and the worth of a country economy, a way to be co-creators with God. Notes the duty to find joy and resist despair. Long quotes from Eric Gill on a decentralized economy. Keywords: family, poverty, personalism, distributism, capitalism, socialism, communism.

"Distributism Versus Capitalism"  DOC #175, Score = 79.67
Summary: Criticizes those Catholics who affirmed the Industrial Council Plan that supported co-management. Calls for co-ownership as the only means to alleviate the injustice caused by industry and quotes "Observatore Romano" on its condemnation of capitalism. Also criticizes those who call the Industrial Council Plan the Pope's plan, and repudiates the claim by quoting Pius XII's 1952 Christmas message which calls for an agriculture economy.

"On Pilgrimage - May 1948"  DOC #158, Score = 79.67
Summary: 16th anniversary recapitulation of distinctive CW positions, especially pacifism and distributism. Explains the C.W.'s philosophy of labor as serving others. Argues that the problem of unemployment originates from the machine - and advocates Gandhi's economic program. Emphasizes a philosophy of work and a philosophy of poverty.

"Articles on Work"  DOC #751, Score = 77.42
Summary: A series of articles on work from The Catholic Worker during a period of rapid industrial growth shortly after the end of World War II.

"On Pilgrimage - June 1958"  DOC #740, Score = 77.42
Summary: Detailed description of her daughter Tamar's home in Vermont and the Hennessey family's life. Mentions the 25th anniversary celebration of the Catholic Worker and all the "old timers" who came. Lauds Ammon Hennacy's penitential fast for out nations dropping the first atomic bomb.

"On Pilgrimage - March 1948"  DOC #465, Score = 77.42
Summary: The birth of her third grandchild stimulates reflections on praising God, struggling to change the social order, staying hopeful and trusting in God while suffering. Quotes St. Paul and spiritual writers to bolster her spirit.

"On Pilgrimage - February 1948"  DOC #464, Score = 77.42
Summary: Writing from her daughter's farm in West Viriginia, comments on the cold and kid's play. Reports on her travels through the Southwest, Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Minnesota extolling the need for supporting the family and a return to the land. Distinguishes types of anarchism and the need for study. Wants more priests to have a vision of a new social order.

"Random Reflections"  DOC #401, Score = 77.42
Summary: Reflects on the enduring struggle to understand suffering love, penance, the joy and pain of our bodies, the beauty of a woman's body, and the example of the saints. Mentions numerous books she loves and some she doesn't care for.

"Poverty Without Tears"  DOC #230, Score = 77.42
Summary: Reviews several books on voluntary poverty, especially Poverty by Fr. Regamey. Elaborates on the joy of, objections to, and purpose of voluntary poverty. Rejects capitalist and communist solutions to real poverty, pointing to decentralization and distributism as the answer.

"On Pilgrimage - November 1946"  DOC #226, Score = 77.42
Summary: Reflects on how hard it is to leave the cares of the Catholic Worker as she begins a pilgrimage to other CW groups. Extols efforts at rural self-sufficiency (e.g. wool making) in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and visits friends in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Point taken and exceptions duly noted and agreed. It's just that to my mind's eye there is no way to reconcile a Distributive Catholic way of governance with the American Constitution anymore. We have co-mixed Capitalism, Consumerism, Free Trade, and other buzz words together to reach what is our current financial woes. Look at how many good Catholic people say free trade is the solution, yet have no idea that they are not going to be allowed to be a so-called entrepreneur. What there should be are small businesses based on skills and trades for the livelihood of families. Obama trotted out two "small business owners " for his own pr. The one was a small bank owner in the South and the other an MBA who needed an I banker to fund his idea for franchising a lunch type store. How can a Banker and an MBA with a plan to franchise and with the intent to sell it for a payday in a short time be categorized as small business owners. They are predators. It's time to take down the horse feathers and rebuild.

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