In 2018, a set of seven “Cultural Beliefs” was incorporated as Statute 2 in Part III of our Rule. Because the Society has always been governed by both the Rule and tradition, the Cultural Beliefs were not really new, but by articulating and adopting them as part of our Rule, we solidified their place as a fundamental aspect of our practices.
We often hear phrases about cultures: a culture of success, a culture of poverty, a culture of life, and so on. What unites cultures is a shared set of beliefs, whether written or unwritten. In our work, we often encounter people in poverty, especially generational poverty, in which there is an underlying belief that this is simply the way things are. After a certain amount of time without having money for things, you begin to internalize the idea that maybe a nice home, a new car, a better job, or even a cup of coffee at Starbucks are not just expensive, but they are simply not for people like you.
When we hold beliefs closely, unconsciously, deep in our hearts, they affect the way that we behave. Part of the foundational culture in the United States has always been a hopeful boldness; the same belief that enabled our forebears to load up the covered wagon and set out to cross the great plains on foot also led our great explorers to climb into a rocket and hurtle through space to walk on the moon. It’s the epitome of a cultural belief: if we believe it, we can do it.
And so, in serving the neighbor, we bring with us our beliefs: belief in Jesus Christ, belief in His saving power, and belief in the full worth and dignity of every single human person. By serving in hope, we give permission to hope, sometimes to people who have fallen into despair. We believe in our neighbors.
Importantly, “hope” is not simply a trite, feel-good slogan, it is one of the three theological virtues, inseparable from the other two, just like our three Essential Elements, through which we live the Theological Virtues: we serve in hope, we pray in faith, and in friendship we love one another and the neighbor.
In remarks to the General Assembly in 1837, Bl. Frédéric expressed our Cultural Belief in One Society and at the same time explained how the Essential Elements unite us, saying “The distances that stand between the most loyal of friends do not separate the Christian spirits or wills that come together to love one another, to pray, and to act…”
A culture is built and fed by beliefs. We believe in one God, in one Society, and in building a civilization of love. May we build our civilization of love by welcoming all into our culture of love.
How can I better ensure that my actions always follow my beliefs?
Building a Civilization of Love in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Seven Duties of a Council President
If you tried to register for the “Seven Duties of a Council President” webinar last week, you may have encountered a broken link in the e-Gazette. Please register here.