Frederic Ozanam: Social Justice Vision + Personal Action
Frederic Ozanam:Social Justice Vision+ Personal Action
Social Justice VisionFrederic Ozanam’s life was a dramatic fusion of intellectual achievement
Social Justice VisionPersonal Actionand direct, personal action
Social Justice VisionPersonal Actionto alleviate the poverty of the least amongst us.
Ozanam was an earnestadvocate of Catholicdemocracy. He viewedthat the Church shouldadapt itself to thechanged politicalconditions resulting fromthe French Revolution.Social Justice Vision
The prevalent notion wasthat the Catholic Churchhad done far more toenslave than to elevatethe human mind.Social Justice Vision
In his years as a studentat the University of Parisat the Sorbonne,professors were usingtheir academic positionsas a platform for theirrationalist ideas againstthe Church.Social Justice Vision
Confronted by thatsituation, Frederic wasimpelled to a battle forthe truth. His faithdemanded a militantattitude. He knew how tovaliantly defend thefundamental Truths ofthe Faith.Social Justice Vision
First, in his writings hedwelt upon importantcontributions of historicalChristianity, and theCatholic Church from thetime of Christ throughthe Middle Ages.Social Justice Vision
Second, a grand masterof speech, Fredericeloquently presented theCatholic Church as aparadigm for therestoration of society inhis time.Social Justice Vision
He fearlessly championedworkers’ rights,including the right to joinlabor unions.Social Justice Vision
While a law professor atLyon, Ozanam developedhis central thesis of the“salaire naturel”— thenatural wage, a conceptthat became theprecursor to the livingwage movement.Social Justice Vision
The working man, hebelieved, was by natureentitled, at a minimum, toa wage suﬃcient toprovide for thenecessities of life, theeducation of his children,and for the support of hisold age.Social Justice Vision
Ozanam’s writing laid thegroundwork for Catholicsocial-justice teaching,helping set the stage forthe great encyclicals onthe rights of workers,starting with Pope LeoXIII’s Rerum Novarum (OnLabor) in 1891.Social Justice Vision
His aim was to be amissionary of the faith inthe world of science; hisdream was to bring aboutthe renewal of societyunder the guidance ofthe Catholic Church.Social Justice Vision
Ozanam said:“We have two lives:one to look for the Truthand defend it, and theother to practice it.”Social Justice Vision
He well merits beingproclaimed today (in thisYear of Faith) “the patronof all apologists.” Thecombination of hisintellectual clarity and histestimony to charitymake him an axis for thenew evangelization.Social Justice Vision
What comments wouldyou make on Ozanam’ssocial justice vision? Haveyou changed any ideasyou used to have onthese subjects? Whatexamples would youshow others to help themunderstand the issues?Reﬂect
Ozanam was thatrarest of intellectuals:one who served—directly, personally,throughout his entireadult life—theimmediate needs ofthe poor.Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
He did not defersocial action untilafter he wasprofessionallyestablished...Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
Intellectual AchievementRather, he saw thecold misery of thepoor in Paris as atwenty-year-oldstudent, and hecarried wood and coalto them in theirtenement slums.Personal Action
As a twenty-year-oldlaw student, in 1833,he founded the St.Vincent de PaulSociety; it soonbecame the largestCatholic charity in theworld.Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
He founded it not bydrafting sophisticatedcorporate chartersand negotiatingfavorable taxarrangements but,rather, by directpersonal witness.Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
Committed to domore than talk aboutfaith, Frederic and hissmall group metweekly to contributeto a secret collectionand then visit thepoor in their homes.Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
They developed theirmethod of serviceunder the guidance ofSister (now Blessed)Rosalie Rendu, D.C.,who was prominentin her service in theslums of Paris.Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
The poor were not anabstraction; theywere, and are, hisbrothers in Christ.Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
Unlike many liberalFrench Catholics (tosay nothing ofconservativeroyalists), he did notfear and loathe thepoor; he literallyembraced them.Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
He wrote: "Thebeloved daughter ofthe faith is charity,and without it faithhas no reason toexist."Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
“Do we remain inertin the middle of aworld that suﬀers andmoans?”Intellectual Achievement Personal Action
Which of my beliefsdo I live out well, andwhich not so well?Reﬂect
Ozanam was always an activist in his soul. Whenhe was just 18, in January 1831, he wrote:I will be delighted if some friends gather aroundme! Then, if we join our eﬀorts, we could createsomething together, and others would join us,and perhaps one day all society will join under thisprotective shade: Catholicism, full of youth andstrength, will rise up suddenly upon the world.
At a time when the CatholicChurch was on the defensive andunder assault, especially inFrance, Ozanam was unfailinglyoptimistic, aﬃrmative, andprogressive.
Perhaps there was considerable utopianismand naiveté in much of Ozanam’s worldview,in believing that private charity couldsigniﬁcantly ameliorate deeply embeddedstructural poverty. Nevertheless, he ﬁrmlybelieved that the widespread practice ofdirect, personal, individual charity toindividual poor was the best hope foravoiding social disaster.
Sources:1. Verheyde, Christian (2013-04-02). 15 Days of Prayerwith Blessed Frédéric Ozanam. New City Press.2. Antoine Frederic Ozanam: Building the Good Society byDavid L. Gregory3. Wikipedia: Frederic Ozanam4. Frederic Ozanam, Grand Apologist of the Faith in the19th Century by Father Teodoro Barquín, C.M.