“The Church first used the term “social justice” in the 1850s after witnessing the material inequality plaguing humanity that came in the wake of the progress of the industrial revolution. Blessed Paul VI expanded on this concept of social justice in his 1971 apostolic exhortation, Evangelica Testificatio, writing about the role religious institutes (groups like the Dominicans and Franciscans) play in advocating for social justice: “It is certainly true that religious institutes have an important role to fulfill in the sphere of works of mercy, assistance and social justice; it is clear that in carrying out this service they must be always attentive to the demands of the Gospel.” For Blessed Paul VI, it was not just the role of a religious to carry out acts of civil service, but to carry out those acts with charity and a genuine love of Christ.
When building up the Kingdom of God through social justice, Christians look not just at the Church but at the whole world, taking into account the needs of all human beings. This may translate into helping with alleviating a practical need such as food or clothing while witnessing to the belief that all humans made in God’s divine image are deserving of complete charity. In carrying out acts of social justice while following the model of Catholic social teaching, Blessed Paul VI calls religious institutes to take on the work of the Church. This work can take the form of dispensing boxes of canned foods or distributing warm winter coats to those who need them. These small acts of addressing the material needs of others help contribute to the ultimate goal of making Christ’s love known to all men.
But what makes “the work of the Church” any different from similar secular social services? Social workers and secular shelters and charities are able to give material benefits to the poor, but Blessed Paul VI recognized that Catholics needed to aim toward something higher: the spiritual needs of the soul. To carry out works of social charity for the love of God means to share the Gospel with those one serves and to pass along the message of hope and salvation to all who receive these works of charity. To be “attentive to the demands of the Gospel” means to care for the salvation of the human person and to allow the work of social justice to be a means of putting Christ’s love into action. To do the work of the Church is not only to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but to be able to speak eloquently about God’s love for His creation and to be aware of the many material and spiritual needs of His Church.”
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom