Social Justice

Social Justice

by Joe Paprocki, D.Min.

In Charles Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who has come to alert Scrooge to the three spirits who will visit him in an attempt to save his soul. When Scrooge asks Marley why he is laden down with chains and irons, Marley explains that he is wearing the chains he “forged in life” as a punishment for not making better use of his time on earth. Scrooge protests, “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.” To which Marley laments, “Business! . . . Mankind was my business! The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Today, more than ever, we need to hear this same message, namely that humankind is our business; “the common welfare” is our business; “charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence” are all our business. This call to make other people's business our own business is at the heart of social justice.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola believed strongly that our faith must translate into working for justice. He believed that there can be no true expression of faith where concerns for justice and human dignity are lacking. Social justice is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality. Social justice tells us that, when people are suffering hardship and oppression, their business is our business. Social justice also calls us to open up our eyes to the needs of others who may be suffering due to the way we conduct business. So, just what do we mean by justice? In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” (Matthew 5:6). The Greek word for “righteousness” can also be translated as “justice.” Unfortunately, we sometimes think of justice as a strictly legal term, for example, when we say that someone who is punished for an offense has been “brought to justice.” This understanding tends to equate justice with retribution. The Bible, however, understands “righteousness,” or “justice” as much more than this. While God does bring retribution on those who do wrong, he also expresses justice through his faithfulness, trustworthiness, and compassion. To say that God is just means that you can always count on him to do the right thing—to show compassion and mercy in all situations.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel prayed for God's justice, meaning that they prayed that God would stand by them and do the right thing, being compassionate and merciful toward them. The people, in turn, recognized that God expected them to deal with one another in the same way, namely by respecting people's rights, by fulfilling their obligations to one another, by showing compassion and mercy to others in all situations, and by caring for those who are in need of any kind. With this understanding of justice, we realize that God's call to be just means a summons to practice justice in every aspect of our daily lives. Social justice, then, refers to society's responsibility as a whole to respect people's rights, fulfill its obligations and show compassion and mercy to all, and to care for those who are in need.

Sometimes it is wise to “mind your own business.” When it comes to the needs of others, however, their business IS our business. That's the Ignatian way.


Joe Paprocki, D.Min. 

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., has been a catechetical leader and religious educator in the Chicago area for more than thirty years.

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Books by Joe Paprocki, D.Min.

La caja de herramientas del catequista

Este libro es ideal para nuevos catequistas, La caja de herramientas del catequista te entrena mientras llevas a cabo tu ministerio como catequista. 

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Under the Influence of Jesus

The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ

In Under the Influence of Jesus, Joe Paprocki explains that by opening ourselves to encountering Christ, we can learn how to live the Gospel and be models of faith.

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Más allá de la caja de herramientas del catequista

Catequesis que no solo informa, sino que también transforma

Más allá de la caja de herramientas del catequista le permite a los jóvenes encontrar a Jesús en la oración de manera que puedan convertirse en discípulos de Cristo para toda la vida.

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La mochila del catequista

Lo indispensable para el camino espiritual

La mochila del catequista brinda a los catequistas recursos que atienden a la dimensión espiritual de su llamado a compartir la fe católica.

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The Catechist's Toolbox

How to Thrive as a Religious Education Teacher

The Catechist’s Toolbox offers catechists tips, advice, and a methodical approach that will help them succeed as educators of the faith.

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A Well-Built Faith

A Catholic's Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe

In A Well-Built Faith, Joe Paprocki makes it easy for Catholics to feel confident in teaching the Catholic faith. He makes complex teachings of the Catholic faith accessible to average Catholics without compromising Catholic teaching and tradition.

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The Bible Blueprint

A Catholic's Guide to Understanding and Embracing God's Word

In The Bible Blueprint, best-selling author Joe Paprocki makes understanding the Bible not only easy for the person in the pew, but downright fun!

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Los planos de Biblia

Una guía católica para entender y acoger la Palabra de Dios

En Los planos de Biblia, el exitoso autor Joe Paprocki ayuda al católico de la calle a entender fácilmente la Biblia, y lo hace con humor.

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Beyond the Catechist's Toolbox

Catechesis That Not Only Informs but Also Transforms

Joe Paprocki, best-selling author of The Catechist’s Toolbox series, has written the first, step-by-step book that demonstrates how to teach a 75-minute catechetical session with practical techniques that expand upon the textbook to create a more prayerful climate in the classroom.

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The Catechist's Backpack

Spiritual Essentials for the Journey

Written by two nationally known, expert lay catechists, The Catechist’s Backpack gives catechists the resources that speak to the spiritual dimension of their call to share the Catholic faith.

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Practice Makes Catholic

Moving from a Learned Faith to a Lived Faith

Why do Catholics do what they do? Practice Makes Catholic from Loyola Press gets to the heart of the question-and to the heart of what it really means to be Catholic.

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Una Fe Bien Construida

Guia catolica para conocer y compartir lo que creemos

Una fe bien construida,—desarrollado con enorme creatividad usando metafóricamente el tema de la construcción— facilita enormemente a los católicos el conocimiento de su fe y les da seguridad al momento de compartirla.

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Amos/Hosea/Micah: A Call to Justice

Six Weeks with the Bible: Catholic Perspectives

The prophets tell us what God thinks about oppression, injustice, and neglect of the poor.

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La experiencia transformadora de encontrarse con Cristo

Bajo la influencia de Jesús

La experiencia transformadora de encontrarse con Cristo es la rotunda respuesta del reconocido autor Joe Paprocki a esa pregunta: ¡Sí, es posible!

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7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness

Enriching Your Faith by Strengthening the Health of Your Soul

In 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness, best-selling author Joe Paprocki provides a prescription for spiritual health based on the rich wisdom of Catholic Tradition.

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Vivir la misa

Cómo una hora a la semana puede cambiar tu vida

Explica detallademente cómo cada parte de la misa se relaciona con la llamada que recibimos en el bautismo, poniendo en estrecha relación la misa dominical y el resto de nuestra semana.

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Living the Mass

How One Hour a Week Can Change Your Life

In Living the Mass, Joe Paprocki, DMin, and Fr. Dominic Grassi convincingly show how the one hour spent at Mass on Sunday can truly transform the other 167 hours of the week.

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A Church on the Move

52 Ways to Get Mission and Mercy in Motion

52 specific, practical, and achievable strategies to help Catholic parishes embody the broad themes of Pope Francis’ papacy—mission, mercy, and evangelization.

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