“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (Corinthians 12-12:31)”
There are ten foundational principles which comprise the social teaching of the Church. One of the Ten Principles of Catholic Social Teaching is the Principle of Association. This principle highlights the importance of community. God created humans to be both sacred and social.
While Jesus taught us to “love thy neighbor,” which sounds like loving others on an individual basis, we also have a duty to love our society on a broader level. The realization and protection of our God-given human dignity depends on relationships within our society as a whole.
Social organization begins with the family. Family is the most important building block of our community, and must always be protected. The family unit is of utmost importance to the positive development of young hearts and minds. Family should provide a constant, safe, stable home environment. In this way, individuals always have a comfortable base within society, nurturing them and therefore further helping them to be productive members of the human family.
The community is the means through which human beings grow and achieve fulfilment in life. We realize our God-given human dignity through relationships with each other. We have a responsibility to work with the community to achieve a common good for all, and to contribute positively to society. The Principle of Association states that the way in which we organize our society, in economics and politics, directly affects the realization and protection of human dignity.
The members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society organize to influence the members of government, informing them of the situations of those who are in need, so that they may discuss and create policies and legislation to address their needs. In this way we are able to show love, care and compassion on a societal level, and further the ability of individuals to grow and thrive in the community.
Joining an institution whose purpose is serving those less fortunate, such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, is a way for individuals to work towards achieving the common good for all. Transforming lives is possible by acting with compassion and love towards all members of society. See the face of Christ in every member of the human family. There are so many of our brothers and sisters who are depending on society to lift them up when they need a helping hand.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”