The title “Order Our Days” is derived from the new English translation of the Roman Canon, also known as Eucharistic Prayer I, in which we ask the Lord: “order our days in your peace” (“diesque nostros in tua pace disponas”). This prayer is first and foremost a plea for God to fill our lives with his grace, so that each of our days can be ordered toward the lives of peace and joy that he desires for us. Yet this prayer can also represent the responsibility of the Church to open herself to God’s grace, and to go into the world to share the good news that God can order every day, every aspect of our lives, in his peace.
The mission of Order Our Days is to work toward moral, social, economic, and political realities that more fully correspond to God’s will for man in the way that he relates to his Father and in the way that he relates to his fellow man. Order Our Days will strive to engage the world with charity rooted firmly in truth as it works toward these new realities. Four principles will provide the basis for this mission:
Respect for Human Dignity: The Church insists, in season and out, that man is made in the image and likeness of his Creator and that his right to life is sacred and inviolable. This truth is also expressed in our own Declaration of Independence, in which our founding fathers declared:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness . . .
Order Our Days will work toward a culture that holds these rights as inviolable and a government that will, in the words of the Declaration, “secure these rights” from conception until natural death. It must be recognized that there can be no authentic respect for other rights without respect for the fundamental right to life, in which all true human rights find their basis.
Solidarity: The Church emphasizes that economic systems (in fact, all human relationships) must be rooted in solidarity between men, which is understood as an unyielding commitment to the common good. This contrasts with laissez-faire capitalist ideas that so often tend toward social Darwinist views of natural selection in which only the economically fittest will survive. Solidarity also conflicts with Marxism; while Marxists insist upon class warfare, the Church insists upon cooperation between all men.
In light of this, Order Our Days will seek a rapprochement between employers and laborers — a third way that repudiates either an employer-controlled or a labor-controlled economy, in favor of an economy that is cooperatively controlled by all who participate in it. To pursue this course we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of the social market economy, distributism, and other third way ideas that are compatible with the Church’s social teaching.
For more on solidarity, see Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, Pope John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra, and Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals Centesimus Annus and Laborem Exercens. See also Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio and Pope John Paul II’s Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, which deal with solidarity in the context of international development. Most of these also discuss the principle of subsidiarity (see below).
Subsidiarity: The clearest difference between Catholic social teaching and Marxist political philosophy is the latter’s insistence, in varying degrees, that the economy should be managed by the state. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church proclaims the principle of subsidiarity, which asserts that the economy (as well as all social endeavors) should be managed at the lowest level that proves effective. This can mean management by individuals, by private associations, or by local or provincial governments. In Catholic social teaching, national or supranational governments should only provide management when goals cannot be accomplished at a lower level.
Yet the principle of subsidiarity should not be construed to mean merely a rejection of socialism. In truth, this principle is violated whenever social, economic, and political management is concentrated in the hands of a few rather than the many. Under capitalism, just as under socialism, the principle of subsidiarity can be violated — as, for example, in cases when powerful and wealthy boards of directors and CEOs hold full management over large banks and corporations.
While this principle finds expression in many legal systems (e.g., the tenth amendment to our constitution), in practice the principle of subsidiarity is applied extremely inadequately and unevenly when it is applied at all. Order Our Days will seek to provide creative ways to apply the principle of subsidiarity to the issues that confront our nation and our world today, while bearing in mind that neither the extremes of socialism or libertarianism can truly apply these principles.
For more on the principle of subsidiarity, see above the resources provided for the principle of solidarity. These principles are in fact inseparable. There can be no real solidarity without subsidiarity because in such a system of false solidarity the person will be absorbed by the state. But there can be no real subsidiarity without solidarity because in such a system of false subsidiarity an “every man for himself” mentality can prevail in which man becomes primarily a competitor with rather than brother to other men. True subsidiarity proclaims that the issue is not how big or small government is, but how necessary and effective it is.
Basis in Charity: Finally, the Church insists that social endeavors must always be rooted in charity. This charity of which the Church speaks is not mere sentimentality, but a perspective on life in which man acknowledges the truth that Christ has called him to love his neighbor and, no less importantly, his enemy. According to the Church, social reforms should not be sought in pursuit of some particular ideology but in pursuit of love. According to St. Paul, love is the greatest gift that God has given us through his grace (cf. 1 Corinthians 13). It is by loving each other that we make most clear that we are made in the image and likeness of God, because God himself is love (1 John 4:16).
Here again in this principle of charity we find the importance of subsidiarity. The Church emphatically teaches that love is only truly love when it is given freely. God does not compel us to love him; he reveals his will for us and gives us the grace to love him through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, but he always gives us a choice to either accept or reject his invitation to loving communion with him and with one another. This choice is reflected in every decision we make, great and small. Thus our love for one another is better expressed when we pursue a more just society voluntarily, rather than through programs made mandatory by the state. Whenever possible, the state should give the individual the opportunity to freely give his love to his neighbor rather than mandating solidarity through coercion.
When the Church calls upon man to make charity the foundation of his social perspective, she is calling man to realize a world radically different than the one we see today — a world that is much closer to the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Christ. She is calling for a solidarity in charity that does not express love for some while disregarding others. The Church cannot condone a system, for example, that expresses love for the poor while showing disregard or hostility toward the unborn, the disabled, or the elderly. Similarly, the Church cannot condone a system, for example, that expresses love for the unborn while showing disregard or hostility toward immigrants, the people of other nations, or even criminals. In the final analysis, the Church calls us to a constant pursuit of love and to a realization that man, weakened by the stain of original sin, can never love enough — let alone too much.
It is with these principles in mind that Order Our Days pursues its mission to realize a world in which man loves enough to respect the right to life of his fellow man; in which man stands in loving solidarity with all of his fellow men; and in which man is given the opportunity to freely give his love to God and to other men, thus imperfectly but faithfully reflecting his Creator, the God who has freely given his love to each of us. Neither Republican nor Democratic, Order Our Days seeks a faithful (if inevitably flawed) expression of Christian Democracy that gives primacy to Catholic social teaching while seeking to work with members of either party, third parties, or no party in particular whenever possible.
Through his grace which he has given through Jesus Christ, may God our Father send his Holy Spirit upon this project to sanctify it and order its days in his peace. This project is especially entrusted to the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who sang her Magnificat of praise for God’s charity and justice, who under her title the Immaculate Conception is the patron of the United States, and to whose Immaculate Heart the whole world is consecrated. May the prayers of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Therese the Little Flower, St. Jude, the author’s Guardian Angel, and all the angels and saints intercede before the Lord for the success of this project.