This weekend, we are hearing from representatives of the Virginia Catholic Conference and the Page County Loaves and Fishes Program. Both groups join together people of good faith in complementary ways to build a more just, noble and charitable society.
The Virginia Catholic Conference, like the national efforts of the American bishops, seeks to ennoble public life in this state and the nation by applying Catholic principles, such as the respect for human life and dignity, the sacred calling of the family, the higher goals of education, religious freedom, and concern for the poor and the environment. Catholic social doctrine is based upon the Bible and sacred tradition, and has been especially developed in the last 120 years from Pope Leo XIII’s groundbreaking encyclical Rerum Novarum, through the Vatican II Council’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World to the writings of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and the current Holy Father Francis.
These teachings rise far above the false choice between narrowly defined conservative and liberal thought and combine the best of all traditions, joining together faith and reason and a call to friendship among the various classes and groups in society. In particular, Catholic teaching emphasizes that all of society should support each person’s calling to seek the good, the true, the beautiful, the holy, God Himself. Helping each person in this quest should be strong families, both the basic family, with loving fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and the extended family. The culture, including neighborhoods, education, art, music, literature, entertainment, and all of the numerous local and larger groups should support individuals and families in this effort. The economic and political systems should not dominate, but rather support a nation’s and a locality’s culture and families in so ennobling each person, who has his own gifts and own role to play.
The Loaves and Fishes Program in Page County tries to put this wisdom into action. Through that program churches and other groups join together to provide food for the children who depend upon school breakfast and lunch meals. The school meals programs provide some help to the over 100 students who are most in need in this county, but this assistance is only for school days. Donations and efforts for the Loaves and Fishes Program fills the gaps and helps make the home life and environment for the children and their families more fitting to their status as sons and daughters of God.