Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

1/16/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The family is the foundation of a truly free, just and healthy society

In the economy of the family, profit is of no motive, and there is no such thing as Pareto efficiency; rather, love is at the heart of it all.  And love does not think in terms of efficiency or net margins.  "To love means to give and to receive something which can neither be bought nor sold, but only given freely and mutually." (Compendium, No. 221)  Indeed, love is profligate, wasteful, heedless of efficiency and gain.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/16/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: marriage, family, Pro-Family, Family politics, Pope benedict XVI, Social Justice, Compendium, Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The word economy comes to us from the Greek word oikonomia, which literally means law of the house or law of the hearth.  There is indeed an oikonomia, a law of the hearth, a law of the family, and that law is a law of love.  The means of exchange in the family economy is not one measured in specie or in utility, but one measured in communion.

In the family "business," investments are made not in manufacturing plants or in fixed assets, but in persons.  "The family is present as a place where communion . . . is brought about.  It is the place where an authentic community of persons develops and grows thanks to the dynamism of love." (Compendium, No. 221)

In the economy of the family, profit is of no motive, and there is no such thing as Pareto efficiency; rather, love is at the heart of it all.  And love does not think in terms of efficiency or net margins.  "To love means to give and to receive something which can neither be bought nor sold, but only given freely and mutually." (Compendium, No. 221)  Indeed, love is profligate, wasteful, heedless of efficiency and gain.

In the family economy, men and women are not exploited in self-interest, sharp practice, or fraud.  No.  The relationship is one as distant from mutual exploitation as can be possible, for the dignity of the other is what is at the heart of all labor and effort.  It is in marriage and family that the person "is recognized, accepted, and respected in his dignity."  The "only basis for value" in this family economy is the dignity of the other, and this results in "heartfelt acceptance, encounter, and dialogue, disinterested availability, generous service, and deep solidarity." (Compendium, No. 221) 

These are the goods that are traded in the family economy.  These are the goods that sets this economy apart from the greater economy.

What a contradiction is the economy of the family from the economy on Wall Street or even Main Street!  Indeed, the "existence of families living this way exposes the failings and contradictions of society that is for the most part, even if not exclusively, based on efficiency and functionality." (Compendium, No. 221)

The family thrives on this reversal of values, and that is why the law of the jungle that seems to govern businessmen will cast away those things that are most treasured in the law of the hearth: The young--who are treasured for their promise and their innocence--and the elderly--who are treasured for their prior contributions and their current wisdom.  But the innocence of children never fails to show us where we are jaundiced, cynical, where we have lost that sense of wonder.  And the usufruct of the old never declines. The elderly in particular have something to teach us, for "they show that there are aspects of life--human, cultural, moral, and social values--which cannot be judged in terms of economic efficiency . . . ." (Compendium, No. 222)

At the foundation of the family is a contract.  But this is no ordinary contract, one based on the consideration or peppercorn.  And it is a contract without any condition, without any escape clause.  It is a contract more properly called a covenant, where force majeure based upon fickle feelings is unknown, and where the only "act of God" clause is this: "what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." (Mark 10:9)

In the world at large, unions are measured in terms of convenience, not of permanency.  And while it may be acceptable for the consumer to shift loyalties from Kellogg's Frosted Flakes to General Mill's Cheerios, or from the Blackberry to the iPhone, such fickleness is not part of marriage and family life.  In the family, loyalties outlast even death.

The stability and indissolubility of the marriage union must not be entrusted solely to the intention and effort of the individual persons involved, but is also the responsibility of the whole of society.  The introduction of divorce into civil legislation violates this principle, and such laws have fueled a relativistic vision of the marriage bond which "truly [is] a plague on society." (Compendium, No. 225) (quoting CCC 2385)

Marriage is a natural institution between two persons, a man and a woman, but it is also a social institution since it has "a social dimension that is unique . . . attending as it does to caring for and educating children," with the aim of having them both self-integrated and integrated into social life.  That is one reason, among others, that the law ought not to legitimize forms of relationships that are nothing but ersatz marriages or relationships that ape--even mock--marriage.  A marriage that does not have the four "marks" as we discussed in our last article, is in fact an anti-marriage.

The fact is that there will never be anything close to approaching a just society as long as our laws do not recognize the characteristic and fundamental traits of marriage, the four "marks" of marriage: a relationship between one man and one woman that is marked by unity, indissolubility and fidelity, and fruitfulness.  Our society must reject other false models of marriage.  Similarly, it must promote the unique oikonomia of the family.

It is therefore necessary that public authorities "resist these tendencies which divide society and are harmful to the dignity, security, and welfare of the citizens as individuals, and they must try to ensure that public opinion is not led to undervalue the institutional importance of marriage and the family." (Compendium, No. 229) 

Clearly, positive law alone will not cure the social ills we suffer from as a result of false concepts of marriage and family.  Positive law is a slim reed, and is a poor tool to hold social corruption in check.  It is a horribly blunt social instrument.  The cure for our social disease will require the concerted action of the entirety of civil society.  It will require a change of hearts, something the law cannot supply, though it can support.  At the forefront of this effort to change hearts and to change laws ought to be the Catholic witness.

"It is the task of the Christian community and of all who have the good of society at heart to reaffirm that 'the family constitutes much more than a mere juridical, social, and economic unity, [but that it is] a community of love and solidarity, which is uniquely suited to teach and transmit cultural, ethical, social, spiritual, and religious values essential for the development and well-being of its members and of society.'" (Compendium, No. 229)

We have our marching orders.  Let us get to marching.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Baptized Christian Has a Vocation and Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


Friendly overtures to Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met with mixed response Watch

Image of LCWR presidents welcome the approximately 750 members to the assembly.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR is comprised of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States. The group represents about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the U.S. However, relations between the ... continue reading


POPE: 'It is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor' Watch

Image of Pope Francis said that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Answering a wide array of questions, which included the proper response to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by fundamentalists of the Islamic State in Iraq, Pope Francis said that "it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor." ... continue reading


POPE IN SOUTH KOREA: 'Peace is not simply the absence of war, but the work of justice' Watch

Image of Pope Francis told 200 South Korean government officials that the two Koreas, halved between North and South since the end of the Korean War in 1953,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, in his first trip to Asia, addressed South Korean political and civic leaders and encouraged them to stay on a steady course towards social justice and democracy. "Peace is not simply the absence of war, but the work of justice," the Pope said in ... continue reading


Will Suffering, Struggle, Failure and Pain Make us Bitter or Better? Watch

Image of Because of his close communion with Jesus Christ, the Risen One who had called him in the desert, Paul cultivated an interior strength which made it possible for him to walk through the pain, to even embrace the pain, and to experience failure itself as a path to the Cross where he found comfort in the wounded side of Jesus the Savior.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

St. Paul was an extraordinary man and an extraordinary Christian. An Apostle, raised up out of the ordinary course, he accomplished great things for the Lord as he eagerly responded to His calling to build the Church and, through her, to help change the world. A ... continue reading


The Assumption: The Virgin Mary goes before us in the Order of Grace Watch

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

What God has promised on the last day for those he loves, he has already accomplished in the Virgin Mary. Let us turn to Mary and love her as our spiritual Mother in the order of grace; let us open our hearts to her Immaculate Heart, that she may illuminate her ... continue reading


The Assumption or Dormition of the Mother of the Lord: What Does It Mean? Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This event is a part of the naturally supernatural  progression in the life of the Blessed Virgin of Nazareth. Her Yes, her Fiat of surrendered love, brought heaven to earth. This exercise of her human freedom, responding to the invitation of God, as sent through ... continue reading


Making bad situations worse in the Middle East

Image of Only by following the non-violent Christ can our world that seems so steeped in violence be converted.

By Tony Magliano

The heart wrenching tragedies throughout the Middle East are not the United States' fault, that is, at least not entirely. The fact that many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims distrust each other, that the Allies established artificial national boundaries to suite their ... continue reading


Pope Francis sends greeting to Chinese president en route to South Korean trip Watch

Image of The Pope's South Korean visit marked the first ever papal flight across China.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On his way to South Korea, Pope Francis bid China a friendly greeting. "Upon entering Chinese air space, I extend best wishes to your Excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke the divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation," the Pope said in ... continue reading


Pope Francis Calls for Prayers and Action Watch

Image of

By Joseph J. Klock

In a series of tweets over recent days, Pope Francis has raised an alarm to the international community pleading for us to protect and pray for "all those suffering violence in Iraq," and to live in solidarity with them. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - In a series of ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 36:23-28
23 I am going to display the holiness of my great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
12 Give me back the joy of your salvation, sustain in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14
1 Jesus began to speak to them in parables once ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 21st, 2014 Image

St. Pius X
August 21: On June 2, 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto saw the light of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter