Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Glimpse Into the Inner Workings Of My Mind (not for the faint of heart)

This is what happens.  Something strikes me while I'm in morning prayer that makes me go "hmm".  I think about it for a little while--a few minutes, an hour, a day, sometimes a week or more, sometimes even longer than that.  Before I know it, I'm in the middle of some article, encyclical, book, film or other media that I can't put down.

Take today.  I opened my September Magnificat (a day late, forgot it was in my purse so yesterday I used Universalis) and read the following:

Work is not only good in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man's dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it... Work is a good thing for man--a good thing for his humanity--because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed in a sense becomes "more a human being."  (Laborem Exercens, #9) 
from the section titled, Blessing for the Workplace, Magnificat pg. 12

It only took me about 15 minutes (the time it took to finish the prayer, reread the passage and ask myself the question, "What's "Laborem Exercens"?) to google Laborem Exercens, John Paul II's 1981 Encyclical on Human Work, which I skimmed briefly, until it led me to Rerum Novarum, Leo XIII's 1891 Encyclical on Capital and Labor (commonly titled On the Condition of the Working Classes), which in turn led me to this quotation:

"Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason; and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence."

This quote from Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas is nestled in its entirety in Leo XIII's footnotes. The Holy Father cited Summa quite a lot for this work.  As I consider some of the legislation coming out of Washington, and the rationale behind it, I can't help but see just how timeless Aquinan thought is.

Anyway, this, my friends, is how I get myself into some of the real formation treasures of our faith.  After I spend the next two days reading these two encyclicals, you can bet that I'll be digging around the Summa for a while.

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