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Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice

Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2018

Marcus Mescher
Pages 123-141

Reclaiming Grace in Catholic Social Thought

Grace is hardly mentioned in the canon of Catholic social teaching. When grace is invoked, it is typically discussed as a gift for personal sanctification, but not a relationship empowering human and divine cooperation for social and ecological responsibility. This essay examines the limited treatment of grace in Catholic social teaching outside of Familiaris consortio and Amoris laetitia before proposing that the traditional emphasis on grace at work in family life can be a model for more intentionally partnering with grace beyond family life. Reclaiming grace as a relationship for cooperation provides a framework for practicing the principles of Catholic social teaching in order to effect change in family life, in local faith communities, and through Catholic NGOs that forge international connections. Grace thus inspires a template for moral formation from the ground up that emphasizes shared practices for participating in “social grace” (in contrast to “social sin”) for integral flourishing as envisioned in Catholic social teaching.