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By Matthew Pelicano

3/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Learning to Live by applying Catholic Social Doctirne is part of our vocation

Our goal should be to understand and embrace the principles of light and unity as formulated by the Church.  In Her wisdom, She does not espouse any particular political or economic system.  Rather, She draws from the deep well of revelation in order to refresh and enliven the genius of Her children.  For man's specific genius is manifest in applying guiding principles to influence his environment.

The principles of Catholic Social Doctrine are to be applied in our lives

The principles of Catholic Social Doctrine are to be applied in our lives


By Matthew Pelicano

Catholic Online (

3/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Business & Economics

Keywords: distributism, subsidiarity, faith, morals, Magisterium, principles, unity, light, Matthew Pelicano, Social Doctrine, Social Teaching, Distributist Exchange, social justice

GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - The Catholic Church was founded by Our Lord to teach, sanctify and rule.  One of the ways the Church teaches is by defining principles, the application of which acts as a leaven throughout all of society.  These principles shed the light of revelation on man's darkened mind and enable him to build the various structures of society according to right reason and revealed truth.  As such, these principles might be called principles of light, insofar as they are a "light in the darkness." 

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church, as the guardian of divine revelation and the teacher of faith and morals, stands as a witness to all mankind of the power of principles to "renew the face of the earth." Furthermore, when Her children answer Her call to apply these principles of faith and morals to every aspect of their individual and social lives, the Church reveals the unifying power of principles; indeed, She is the "visible sacrament of. unity."

As Catholics we are called to respond to the Church's threefold mission generously and with faith and humility.  We must not only submit our opinions, prejudices, viewpoints, and reason to the teachings of the Magisterium, we must actively open our minds by humbly seeking out the enlightening principles set forth by the Church.  In faith and humility we must conform ourselves, our lives and society, as far as we are able, to the truth of the Gospel.  We must embrace the easy yoke of the rule of Christ the King in all aspects of our lives.  We must seek not only to be sanctified but to sanctify the world by our presence in it.  This can only be accomplished through God's grace and the application of our Faith - the application of the enlightened principles of our Faith - in everything we do: individually, socially, politically, economically, professionally - everything. 

Unity is one of the glorious results of espousing the guiding principles revealed by the Church.  This unity can only come from humble submission to the wisdom of the Church.  Only when we understand the depths of our lack of understanding and embrace the truth of our need for guidance can we begin to enjoy that unity of faith which is a mark of the Catholic Church. Our Lord is the greatest realist.  Understanding perfectly the reality of our fallen human nature and our reluctance to submit our minds to the light of His Church, He prayed for our unity - as the most practical sculptor might first address the most glaring imperfection in the marble before him so as to remove all obstacles to the beautiful unity he intends to create.

Our goal should be to understand and embrace the principles of light and unity as formulated by the Church.  In Her wisdom, She does not espouse any particular political or economic system.  Rather, She draws from the deep well of revelation in order to refresh and enliven the genius of Her children.  For man's specific genius is manifest in applying guiding principles to influence his environment.  No man-made system - political, economic or otherwise - is inevitable.  Man may choose to act as he will; indeed this partially defines him.  Choosing is a moral act and the Church holds jurisdiction over faith and morals.  Therefore, She defines principles that can and must be applied to every activity in which man acts in his capacity as a moral being.  If we fail to heed these principles, we do so at our own risk and endanger not only ourselves but society and its political and economic systems.

In good faith, we as Catholics may maintain unity and still differ as to the details of the application of enlightening principles.  But unity ceases to exist when details of application violate the principles themselves.  For example, we can agree to the principle that all human life is sacred but if I state that abortion should be permissible in cases of rape or incest, I am violating the principle and rupturing the unity that should exist between Catholics.  Or, for instance, I can agree to the principle of subsidiarity which states that "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions." (Catechism of the Catholic Church). But if I support political candidates who actively consolidate more and more power in the hands of the federal government to the detriment of the state and local governments or, what's worse, to the detriment of the family unit itself, then clearly, I am not applying the principle of subsidiarity and unity will suffer as well.

"Our God is a jealous God!"  Christ wants to be Lord of our hearts, our minds, our opinions, our viewpoints, our prejudices, our relationships, our politics and, yes, our economics, too.  We must strive to be taught, sanctified and ruled by Him through His Church.  We must strive to conform every aspect of our existence from the "bedroom to the boardroom" to the principles derived by Holy Mother Church from the deposit of faith She has received from Her Divine Spouse.  Far from losing our true individuality and creativity in a homogenous sea of submission, we obtain true self-realization only by conforming ourselves in love to our Beloved. By embracing the principles of light and unity we achieve freedom: freedom from error; freedom for change; freedom to love.


Matthew Pelicano is the founder of the Distributist Exchange ( and owner of Augray Sorn, a web design and content management company.  He has over 12 years experience working in management within the financial and technology industries. He lives in upstate South Carolina with his wife, Jennette, and their three children.

The Distributive Exchange ( is a virtual marketplace enabling a network of skilled craftsmen, service-providers, family-owned companies, worker-owned cooperatives and small businesses to provide their products and services to a wider clientele.  The Distributist Exchange exists to bring together those who subscribe to the principles of subsidiarity and Distributism for the furthering of these principles in the most practical of ways: the facilitation of commerce for the support of the family and the good of our nation. 


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