Reflections on Klaus Schwab's Book, Covid-19: The Great Reset

“There are no nations. There are no peoples…There is only one holistic system of systems…It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today.…And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.”

~ Paddy Chayefsky, Network 

“Communism’s promise was whispered in the first day of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: 'Ye shall be as gods.'” 

~ Whittaker Chambers 1

Klaus Schwab aspires to create a utopia using technology and one massive central government.  
And he's asking for your cooperation.  Are you in?  

When did you first hear about the New World Order? For me, it was around twenty years ago. A friend of mine had a shelf full of books about it, and after Mass one evening I stopped by his place and he handed me a stack of them. 

Over the following months, I'd pour over them on Saturday mornings, munching on ding dongs as my eyes widened with fascination and horror as I learned about smart cards, a one world government, microchips and a one world religion.

Eventually, I threw them all out. It felt like reading about poltergeist or stories of the supernatural. They left me unhinged and scared, and I didn't see how they had any bearing on reality. 

“Value Village wouldn't even want these,” I reasoned as I checked them into the dumpster behind my apartment.

Yet here we are two decades later, hearing about a “great reset,” a need to “build back better,” and, yes, a New World Order. 

But this time, it's from an entirely different perspective. Back then, I'd read about the New World Order as something that “they” were going to roll out and inflict onto all of “us,” i.e. the author and reader of the book. 

But now “they” are the ones doing the talking. With their book Covid-19: The Great Reset, we're getting the skinny on the New World Order straight from the horses' mouth. 

Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret published Covid-19: The Great Reset in July of 2020, just three months after the lockdowns for covid-19 ensued around the world. They describe the book as a “hybrid between a contemporary essay and an academic snapshot”2 to look at the significance of what's transpired, and they examine the pandemic from a macro, micro, and individual point of view. It's about 250 pages, which they wrote over the month of June.3 It's published by Schwab's organization, The World Economic Forum. 

Schwab has written several books previously, both on his “stakeholder theory,” which professes that a business is obligated not only its shareholders, but to all its stakeholders, and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which is about advancing the capacity of technology with respect to artificial intelligence, robots and gene editing. 

Thierry Malleret, who is a leader in the World Economic Forum, has co-authored with his wife, Mary Anne Malleret, the book, Ten Good Reason to Go For a Walk and Other Wellness Ideas, which includes an introduction by Schwab. 

Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum

Klaus Schwab started the WEF in 1971, as a platform to promote his stakeholder theory, which is about infusing a company's ethos into the community it serves. 

What comprises Schwab's ethos? In The Great Reset, he repeatedly advocates for “fairness,” which he admits is highly subjective.4 Some of his other values include addressing systemic economic inequality, climate change, enjoying the wonder of nature and eating unprocessed foods. 

He earned doctorates in economics and engineering from University of Fribourg and has received 17 honorary doctorates. He acknowledges that economics has changed the dynamic of political power in the modern world. 

“Big wars and military power to achieve political objectives is more or less a matter of the past...to exercise influence in the world today is mainly based on economic power,” Klaus tells Charlie Rose in a 2010 interview. 

The WEF has identified 78 distinct global challenges. Its mission is to improve the state of the world, by means of this “stakeholder theory” and by integrating private organizations with governments. Its members meet yearly at Davos and other places throughout the world. 

He believes the Fourth Industrial Revolution is central to solving these challenges. As he tells Rose: “Practically every issue in the world can also be solved (disease, environment) by the new technologies which are now developed.” 

But don't be too hasty to jump on board: “This Fourth Revolution; it doesn't change what you are doing, it changes YOU. If you take genetic editing, just as an example, it's YOU who are changed...it raises many ethical and legal questions and we have to be prepared for it.” 

And at 50 years old, Schwab's organization has amassed a tremendous amount of clout. He says world leaders recognize the need to network with the private sector in order to advance agendas. He admits to knowing nearly every leader in the world, and WEF's members include around 80% of the Fortune 500 Companies. It is recognized as an international organization similar to the Red Cross and the Olympics. 

The Book's Central Message?

The arguments and assertions in Covid-19: The Great Reset are somewhat muddled, and contradict themselves frequently. I believe these two statements from the conclusion come closest to what the authors are getting at: 

“The pandemic...represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our world....replacing failed ideas, institutions, processes and rules with new ones better suited to current and future needs. This is the essence of the Great Reset.” 5 

However, they also assert elsewhere that we cannot ever go back, and the Great Reset isn't an opportunity, but an inevitable event that's going to happen all of a sudden. 6

The window of opportunity, they say, is due to the “monumental” catastrophe the pandemic has beset upon the world. But they hedge on whether or not the pandemic is really catastrophic. 

The first pages of the introduction uses hyperbolic language to describe what's just transpired, even describing it in Messianic terms: “No parallel in modern history,” “Disruption of monumental proportions,” “The pandemic marks a fundamental inflection point” and “Radical changes of such consequence are coming that some pundits have referred to a 'before coronavirus' (BC) and 'after coronavirus' (AC)”7 represents only SOME of the superlative language that survived editing. 

Then they immediately walk this all back and assert that this pandemic isn't nearly so bad as historical pandemics such as the Black Death or Plague of Justinian, nor as deadly as any event in recent history, including WWII.8 A lockdown is common and normal, they insist, and we need to calm down, obey authorities and refrain from scapegoating: that's just a sign of the mental strain of isolation. 9

The book continues in this incoherent fashion, making it difficult to identify just what these two are trying to communicate. 

Non-Sequiturs Galore

Although Malleret and Schwab profess that “predicting is a guessing game for fools,”10 the two spend the entire book spelling out what the future should and will look like, with more arguments rife with contradictions (read footnotes for actual quotes). Here's a sampling. 

  •  They say the pandemic highlights the need for a world government, while also making the argument that the US and China were simply too big to effectively handle the pandemic, and that smaller countries, due to their size, fared much better. 11
  •  They state that we can’t go back to normal, ever, full stop. Except that we can, once everyone is vaccinated. 12
  •  They note that the reduction in flying and driving due to the lockdowns did little to reduce carbon emissions, as the real emissions culprits are related to electricity, agriculture and industry. Yet they hope that post-lockdown we’ll all commit to flying and driving less in order to save the environment. 13
  •  And in its most overt and egregious contradiction, the two establish outright that there wasn't any debate over whether or not to impose draconian lockdowns and shut down the economy. The shutdowns are about saving lives. Keeping the economy running means sacrificing lives. 14 Then they spend some sixty-odd pages (of a 250 page book) discussing just how destructive these lockdowns portend to be. This reveals some pretty shocking stuff, and it's worth spelling out just what they foresee.

A Cure That's Deadlier Than the Disease

As I've said, Malleret and Schwab state explicitly that covid-19 will kill fewer people than WWII. 15 By most estimates, WWII killed between 70-85 million, and so covid, according to their 7/2020 prognostications, will kill fewer than this. 

However, the two men predict “multiple famines of biblical proportions” due exclusively to the economic fallout from the lockdowns. 16 They forewarn of massive, violent unrest due to people not having a job. Domestic violence will increase by 15 million for every three months of lockdown, while many will also suffer from acute psychotic episodes.17  Failing small business will cause a vicious downward spiral in entire communities.18 And entire nations will be destroyed due to disruptions in the supply chain.19 

“There will be no recovery [due to skyrocketing unemployment]. There will be social unrest. There will be violence. There will be socio-economic consequences: dramatic unemployment. Citizens will suffer dramatically: some will die, others will feel awful.” 20

“The number of people suffering from acute food insecurity could double in 2020 to 265 million. The combination of movement and trade restrictions caused by the pandemic with an increase in unemployment and limited or no access to food could trigger large-scale social unrest followed by mass movements of migration and refugees.” 21

Just with the number from the second quote alone—137 million more people on the brink of starvation--the two have made the case that the lockdowns are worse than covid-19, and so should have been avoided at all costs. And this doesn't account for the millions of incidents of domestic violence and acute mental illness, nor take into account those nations that will fail.

Advocating the lockdowns makes no sense whatsoever, presuming their objective is to mitigate destruction and save lives. 

I also find it odd, given that Schwab has a PhD in economics and is an advocate of “fairness,” that nowhere in the book did he note the wealth transfer that came about as a result of shuttering small businesses and keeping monoliths like Amazon, Home Depot and Costco open and running non-stop. There's no way he isn't aware of this. 

The Stuff of Leaders? 

In Covid-19 The Great Reset, Malleret and Schwab argue explicitly for a one world government. The UN and WHO aren't cutting it, they assert. 22 Clearly, they see themselves as playing a central role in its formation; i.e. playing a central role in running the entire world.

Yet they cannot coherently and logically articulate their ideas in this academic essay. It's no excuse that they whipped this book out in one month. This is huge, far-reaching authority they're gunning to possess, and so the sloppy thinking in this book is inexcusable. 

Advocating these destructive, deadly lockdowns as a solution to covid further brings into question their capacity as leaders. Why would we trust any of their solutions to the other 77 problems they claim the world faces, when by their own admission their solution to handling covid was far worse than covid would have been on its own?

Their book really demonstrates that they should not be running the show. And it makes me wonder why DID we listen to the edicts that Schwab and Gates professed in lockstep which, essentially, were to wear masks, social distance, wash hands and sit around at home waiting around for a vaccine? At one point Schwab writes that the “necessity to address the pandemic by any means available” will inevitable lead to SMART TOILETS to monitor our health. 23 This extreme measure is utterly absurd, given the basic measures he never calls for, such as setting up a covid-19 hotline to advise patients on early treatment. (Something this fundamental was never set up in the USA--when someone received a positive result for covid, they weren't given any instruction at all, and were expected to go home, drink OJ, and could only be admitted to ICU when their lips were blue.)

Now, given that Malleret and Schwab's advocacy of the lockdowns makes no sense from a life-saving standpoint, then why are they pushing them so strongly? Reset offers an explanation. 

A Totalitarian Technological Shift

In order to understand the motive for advocating these deadly lockdowns, it's important to remember that Schwab believes technology is the key to solving all of humanity's problems. And the lockdowns accelerated his technological revolution exponentially.

As we know, the lockdowns forced us to go “digital everything”: shopping, working, socializing, learning. Businesses and universities were forced to completely change as well, offering remote or hybrid models in lieu of in-person. 

According to Schwab, this pandemic has also highlighted the need for massive, ongoing surveillance. 24 It's obligatory going forward that everyone's health be digitally tracked and recorded. There's no hiding under the “individualist facade of rights,” he says, 25 since “we cannot be individually well in a world that is unwell.” 26

Eventually, the authors foresee that wearing digital technology will blur the line between monitoring our personal health and public healthcare, with governments “encouraging” healthy activities such as sports. 27 

This illustrates what Schwab's stakeholder theory really looks like in practice: individuals no longer making decisions about how to go about living their lives, but rather this government-business hybrid he's cultivated through the WEF “advocating” (i.e. forcing) its agenda onto humanity. 

Digital currency is part and parcel to this surveillance scheme. Schwab and Malleret briefly note the decline of the dollar, and pose digital currency as a viable alternate global reserve. 

The implications of this are crucial: digital currency originates from a country's central bank, giving the state the capacity to monitor every single transaction an individual makes. The end of the digital currency road, essentially, is one where the central government can impose whatever mandate it chooses (which, if Schwab got his way, would include mandates to take vaccinations, eat unprocessed foods and exercise regularly), and if anyone doesn't play along, their purchasing power is suspended.

Although this may sound utterly fantastic, it's worth noting that during the pandemic the Federal Reserve in the US made dramatic steps toward this end. 

In this excellent video, John Titus highlights how the Fed made an unprecedented move at the onset of the 2020 pandemic to directly put money into the hands of the private sector (i.e. us), bypassing commercial banks! Having the central bank take over this huge portion of the retail money supply—around 3.5 trillion dollars--brings us closer to making digital currency a reality in the US.  (start watching around min 44.)

“The genie of tech surveillance will not be put back in the bottle,” Malleret and Schwab inform us.28 In this “After Covid” world, things like working hybrid, video conference calls and online grocery shopping are a way of life. And it appears that digital currency and some other seriously dystopian shit looms just over the horizon. Undoubtedly Schwab is thrilled about it. 

The Intended Audience 

The book takes a bizarre turn at the end. After explaining how the lockdowns are essentially a wrecking ball smashing into all of humanity, he concludes by pointing out how the pandemic helped many of “us” appreciate the meditative quality of life and nature.

“[COVID-19] made us more aware and sensitive about the great markers of time: the precious moments spend with friends and our families, the seasons and nature, the myriads of small things that require a bit of time (like talking to a stranger, listening to a bird or admiring a piece of art).” 29

The choice of pronouns here is noteworthy. When they're discussing frolicking in the woods and watching butterflies, they're talking about “us.” Whereas when discussing the devastating fallout of the poor and vulnerable, the pronouns are always “they.” 

Note this passage from earlier in the book:

“For many states, the pandemic will be the exogenous shock that forces them to fail and fall even further...economic disaster will trigger some form of political instability and outbreaks of violence because the world's poorest countries will suffer from two predicaments: first, the breakdown in trade and supply chain caused by the pandemic will provoke immediate devastation like no remittance or increased hunger; and second, further down the line, they will endure a prolonged and severe loss of employment and income.” 30

This “us” he's speaking to, then, is his intended audience: people just like him, who suffered none of the ruinous impact of covid, but for whom it was really an extended vacation of sorts, allowing them to spend hours upon hours enjoying nature, visiting with family and catching up on reading. 

This “Aw well. It's a shame that those poor nations will be annihilated” tone gives you a clear vision of Schwab, Malleret and his wife (who's given credit for much of Reset's editing). Given their penchant for walking, after completing a passage about mass devastation, it's not unlikely that the trio would step out for a meditative walk in the woods, munching on goat cheese and organic apples. 

A Sudden Reset 

And one final aspect worth noting before I wrap this up: at one point they tell us to anticipate a sudden reset. (As I said earlier, they vacillate between saying that a reset is inevitable and that it's an opportunity for us to imagine and create.)

“For big systemic shifts and disruptions in general, things tend to change gradually at first and then all at once. Expect the same for the macro reset.” 31

This reads like they're priming us for something. 

Since they never establish that covid-19 is so horrible that it would necessitate a seismic shift, it's becoming increasingly clear that the hype is concocted, and it's really a step in the rollout of some greater scheme. And so this passage, in essence, means: “We're going to make a big more here, soon.”

In order to make a shift of this magnitude—mandating worldwide surveillance—they'd have to instill fear and hysteria into everyone in the world at all the same time. So they may very well have some sort of mass-casualty event on the order of 9-11 up their sleeves.

Be ready for it, get your spiritual house in order, and don't give into the hysteria and fear. And if you're so inclined, pray and fast that whatever they have planned might be mitigated or thwarted altogether.

Empty shelves at a grocery store in Russia in 1990: here's what happened 
when the USSR tried to create a utopia via a central government.
Should we expect it will be any different this time around?  


The craziness we've witnessed over the past two years, it appears, is far from over. Given that Schwab has really pushed his weight around on the world stage, it's feasible that the agenda he's pushing in The Great Reset; a one-world government, massive surveillance, technology incorporated into all parts of our lives; has some traction. 

And so this book is a healthy wake up call to any one who wants to have their head in the game. 

They throw a LOT of information at you in this book (it has 172 endnotes!), but rest assured, it is no literary masterpiece. I'll probably eventually toss it as I did my other NWO books so long ago. 

They also state over and over that a successful reset hinges on the cooperation of the masses. So maybe with enough resistance, this dystopian future might be averted. 

Have you read Covid-19: The Great Reset? What are your thoughts on the book? 



1.Whittaker Chambers, Witness. Regency Gateway, 1952: page 9.

2. Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret. Covid-19: The Great Reset . Forum Publishing, July 2020: page 3.

3. The Great Reset : page 47.

4. The Great Reset : pages 222, 3, 4.

5. The Great Reset : pages 244 & 9.

6. “Things tend to change gradually at first and then all at once. Expect the same for the macro reset,” The Great Reset  page 29.

“Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never...radical changes of such consequence are coming,” The Great Reset  page 12. 

7. The Great Reset : pages 11, 12.

8. “Covid-19 will kill far fewer people than the Great Plagues, including the Black Death, or World War II.” The Great Reset  page 17.

“There is nothing new about the confinement and locks imposed upon much of the world to manage COVID-19. They have been common practice for centuries,” The Great Reset page 14. 

9. “The spread of infectious disease has a unique ability to fuel fear, anxiety, and mass hysteria...throughout history, the important and recurring pattern has been to search for scapegoats,” The Great Reset  page 14.

10. The Great Reset  page 127.

11. “Countries or empires have grown so large as to reach a threshold beyond which they cannot effectively govern themselves. This in turn is the reason why small economies like Singapore, Iceland, South Korea and Israel seem to have done better than the US in containing the pandemic and dealing with it,” The Great Reset  page 126.

“If no one power can enforce order, our wold will suffer from a 'global order deficit,'” The Great Reset page 105.

12. “A full return to normal cannot be envisaged before a vaccine is available,” The Great Reset  page 48.

“Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never,” The Great Reset page 12. 

13. The Great Reset : pages 141-2.

14. “Leaving aside the (not insignificant) ethical issue of whether “sacrificing some lives to save the economy” is a social Darwinian proposition (or not), deciding not to save lives will not improve economic welfare,” The Great Reset  page 43.

15. The Great Reset  page 17. 

16. The Great Reset  page 131.

17. The Great Reset page 229.

18. The Great Reset  page 193.

19. The Great Reset  page 128.

20. The Great Reset  page 85.

21. The Great Reset  page 131.

22. The Great Reset page 118.

23. The Great Reset page 179. 

24. The Great Reset page 33.

25. The Great Reset page 164.

26. The Great Reset  page 205.

27. The Great Reset  pages 206-7.

28. The Great Reset page 171.

29. The Great Reset page 237.

30. The Great Reset pages 128-9.

31. The Great Reset page 29.



How (and Why) to Make a General Confession

“You're only as sick as your secrets.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous

“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.” ~ Isaiah 1:18 

Candles at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal.

“What do you see when you're in the dark, and the demons come?” Mitch Leary (John Malcovich) asks Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) in a creepy late night phone call in the 1993 movie In the Line of Fire. Eastwood, a secret service agent, failed to take a bullet for President Kennedy on that fatal day in Dallas, and the assassination haunts him to the present day. “Do you really have the guts to take a bullet, Frank?” Malcovich further taunts him in the brilliant, gripping screenplay by Jeff Macguire.

And what do you, reader, see when you're in the dark and the demons come? 

We all have a personal legion of demons who come to agitate and rattle us about ways we've messed up, people we hurt, things we should or should not have done--and who remind us that the windows of opportunity to repair the damage closed long ago. Living with them is a heavy burden. It destroys our peace.

Jesus wants to exercise these demons from us, give us his peace, and restore us so we can live in the fullness of life. 1  And he has the unique capacity to do so. 

One principle means to achieve this restoration is with the sacrament of Reconciliation. 

A central problem for many, though, is that confession is SCARY!!! Who really wants to go into a tiny room and tell a priest her or his deepest and darkest? 

And if confessing sins from the last few months isn't hard enough, the notion of making a general confession, where you confess the sins of your entire lifetime, is downright terrifying. 

If this echoes some of your sentiments regarding confession, you certainly aren't alone. Many, many forgo receiving the sacrament of Penance due to its awkwardness, or else they just don't see the point of it. 

The reality, however, is that making a confession is healthy and natural. As a sacrament, it's one of the “masterworks of God.” 2 And you needn't squirm over feigned awkwardness: the priest has heard it all before. 

Let's look more closely at the benefits of regular confession and why a general confession especially makes sense at this moment in time—then go over some practical ways to prepare for one. 

A Routine Cleansing 

Over lunch last summer, my friend told me that he only makes a confession once in a while, when he's done something particularly injurious that he's truly sorry about. 

This is pretty much on base with what the Church professes: 

“After having attained the age of discretion each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” 3 

For my own part, I had an experience that convinced me I need to make confession a regular part of my life, regardless of whether or not I think I've done something “really bad.” 

Several years ago, I'd really had it with the priests and parish communities where I lived and decided to take a long break from confession. One night, I had a dream that I was in a filthy bathroom. A layer of dirt covered every surface area. It gave me the creeps just to be standing in the midst of it; like one of those gas station bathrooms that hasn't been cleaned for months and months. Then, a friend found me and guided me downstairs into a perfectly clean, sparkling and fresh bathroom. 

The next morning, a friend called and said that she was going to confession that afternoon and wondered if I wanted to join her? 

I was so surprised at this phone call; we never had “confession dates” before, lol; and I definitely made a connection between my dream and her invitation.

In the dream the bathroom represented my soul. Everyday sins dirtied it, so much so that even over a short span of time, it became unbearably filthy. Keeping my soul clean entailed a regular cleansing; i.e. confession. 

So after that, rain or shine, happy or sad with the priest or parish, and regardless of whether or not I thought I'd done anything exceptionally horrible, I made a practice of going to confession regularly. As a rule of thumb, I try to go about as often as I clean my bathroom. 😉

The Catechism on Confessions

Do you ever put something off for days and weeks, and over that time it just festers and gets worse? Take cleaning out your refrigerator. If it's not done regularly, all sorts of filth starts to grow onto leftovers and what not. Sometimes, nipping an ugly task in the bud is the easiest way to resolve it. 

The sacrament of Penance is a lot like that. In 1 John 1:9, John tells us, “If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, 'We have not sinned,' we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 

Looking at the ways we've failed is hard. However, a confession has a healthy psychological benefit: it's facing up to what we've done, which enables us to move past it. Here's how the Catechism phrases it: 

“The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission, man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.” 4 

Essentially, confession allows for greater spiritual maturity. As the priest said in his homily at the Ash Wednesday Mass I attended: “If you go to confession regularly, you will experience spiritual growth. Guaranteed.” 

The Benefits of a General Confession

A general confession, which entails summarizing the sins of your entire lifetime, has been a tradition in the Church for some time now. St. Therese of Lisieux writes about making a general confession at her Carmel in France. 5  And the first section of St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises includes preparing for a general confession. 

But what is the sense in making one; of re-confessing sins you've already received absolution for in previous confessions? At first blush, it reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me of traveling to Lourdes with his family as a little boy. Although the intention of the trip was to seek healing for his ailing sister in the Lourdes water, upon arrival the volunteers at the grotto recommended he be dipped into the water as well. 

“But I'm already well,” he pointed out.

“But you will be better,” they insisted.

The notion of asking forgiveness for a sin more than once seems like a failure to trust or believe that Jesus wiped the slate clean the first time. 

--Add to it that it's just so dang hard to acknowledge an entire lifetime of sins in one sitting. 

Although a Catholic is under no obligation to make a general confession, there are in fact several good reasons for doing so—particularly at this point in time: 

  • In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius lays out some clear benefits of a general confession. For starters, he says it generates a greater contrition for all the sins of one's entire lifetime.
  • Another benefit he cites is that it increases our self-knowledge. We come to a greater understanding of our weak areas and tendency to sin, which allows us to heal. And it also shows us those areas where we've already healed and grown. 
  • And finally, he says that a general confession makes one better disposed to receive the Blessed Sacrament. And this in turn creates fortitude to no longer fall into sin. 6 
  • A final reason to make a general confession at this moment in time is to prepare ourselves for the Illumination of Conscience. As I've written several times before, the Illumination is unique in all of human history. It is a special moment in which God will reveal to every person his or her individual transgressions over an entire lifetime. Due to the Blessed Virgin's prophecies at Garabandal, there is good reason to think this Illumination will take place very soon; it's to happen, she says, when the world returns to the spirit of communism. Receiving this judgment will be a lot for any of us to palate, and making a general confession would mitigate the difficulty of this experience.

Appreciating these benefits of a general confession serves to ease the challenge of making one. And although not exactly being “men of the world,” most of the priests I've confessed to have been reasonable and easy enough to talk to. It's really expected of him, as the Catechism says: 

“The minister of the sacrament should....have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensibility toward the one who has fallen.” 7  

When I made a general confession, it was at a parish with an ENORMOUS line at the confessional. I honestly thought the priest would turn me away when he realized I was making a general confession, saying that he didn't have the time. But he didn't. And it was hard, but I stayed focused on what I was ACHIEVING from the confession: some sort of release and spiritual preparation for this upcoming decade. 

Now let's look at how one might prepare for a general confession—fortunately St. Ignatius has provided a coherent step-by-step guide.

St. Ignatius' Exercises to Prepare for a General Confession

As a young man in Spain around the turn of the 16th century, St. Ignatius of Loyola developed distinctive spiritual practices while praying alone in a cave for several months. After starting the Jesuit order around 15 years later, he codified these exercises, and novitiates complete them upon entering the order.

The term “spiritual exercises” encompasses a range of spiritual activities, including examination of conscience, meditation, contemplation, vocal and mental prayer. (Although the exercises, traditionally, are completed over a retreat lasting as long as thirty days, they can be adopted to any practitioner, over any time range that suits him or her.) 

Discernment is central to the exercises: identifying those desires and experiences in our lives that come from God, those that are from the devil, and those that originate from ourselves. This enables one to navigate a path toward God and the fullness of life Jesus promised us. 

The beginning of his exercises is dedicated to the contemplation of sin and preparation for a general confession. 

  • The Five Preparatory Exercises

In preparation for making a general confession, St. Ignatius suggests removing yourself from your daily life as much as possible. This way, to use his words, “The mind is not engaged in many things, but can give its whole attention to one single interest, that is, to the service of its Creator and its spiritual progress.” 8 

He lays out five separate exercises, 9 which I've simplified and summarized below. He recommends performing these exercises over the course of one day: the first exercise at midnight, the second upon rising, the third before or after Mass (before lunch), the Fourth at Vespers (early evening), and the Fifth an hour before supper. 

Since these were written in first person, I'm summarizing them here in first person as well. 

The First Exercise

I begin with a prayer asking God that this exercise might be oriented toward him. 

Next I complete two preludes:

First I meditate on “sin.” A visual Ignatius offers is a knight coming before a king and court after he's done something shamefully wrong, and after the king has given him many favors. (This visual gets at the kind of person Ignatius was.)

Second, I ask for the grace to be ashamed of occasions of sin. 

The body of this exercise entails meditating on the single sin of the angels that caused them to be cast into hell and the single sin of Adam and Eve that brought about the fallen state of the entire human race. 

Then I consider those who've led far better lives that I, who've sinned far less, yet who have incurred punishment and damnation.

Finally, I close with a Colloquy (which is basically a natural conversation with Jesus): After meditating on Him on the Cross, I answer these questions:

“What have I done for Christ?”

“What am I doing for Christ?”

“What ought I to do for Christ?”

The Second Exercise

The second exercise begins with the same preparatory prayer. 

This is followed by a prelude, this time asking for the grace of intense sorrow for sin. 

Next I record my sins, going over my life year by year, focusing on where I lived, my dealings with others and the positions I held. I look at my sins altogether, and then I look at myself compared to the almighty God. I look with awe on all of creation for having permitted me to commit these sins: the angels “through they are the sword of God's justice,” other humans, the saints, all of nature. 

Finally, I end with a Colloquy, speaking to God and thanking him for his mercy. 

The Third Exercise

The third exercise begins with the preparatory prayer. 

Next, I repeat the first and second exercises, focusing on which aspects bring consolation, and which desolation. 

I finish with three colloquies, speaking first to the Blessed Virgin, asking for her to help with self- knowledge and re-ordering my life, and to distance my life from worldly dangers. Then I make the same requests of Jesus and God the Father. 

The Fourth Exercise

The fourth exercise repeats the third, like a cow chewing on its cud, and closes with the same colloquies. 

The Fifth Exercise

The fifth exercise begins with the preparatory prayer.

Next, I meditate on hell, using all the five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling the flames. 

One helpful description here is from St. Teresa of Avila's Book of her Life, a spiritual memoir she wrote around the age of 50. 

While I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell….the entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the flow seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting a foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition.

All this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there….What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated, nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth…these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing.

This, however was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough. To say the experience is as though the soul were continually being wrested from the body would be insufficient, for it would make you think somebody else is taking away the life, whereas here it is the soul itself tears itself in pieces.…..I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair….

the Lord wanted me to actually feel those spiritual torments and afflictions, as though the body were suffering. 10

(St. Ignatius of course doesn't include this excerpt in his exercises, but I have found it's a pretty thorough description, and so helpful for a meditation.)

Next, I ask for a sense of pain that the lost suffer, and for a fear of hell, an appreciation of its reality as a motivation to live an upright life.

I close with a colloquy, talking with Jesus about those who are condemned, and thanking Him that he's been merciful to me. 

And that wraps up the five exercises: after completing these, anyone is pretty well prepared to make a general confession. Most priests are available to hear confessions at least once a week. 

St. Ignatius makes a few comments on penance. 11 He suggests giving up food, sleep, and practicing forms of asceticism that make you uncomfortable but that don't hurt you physically (like taking cold showers, for example). He says that identifying suitable penance is a discernment process, and recommends talking over with God what is best for you. 

A Lesson From the Three Little Pigs

My two-year-old nephew has an indefatigable obsession with the story of the three little pigs, and last summer I read it to him over and over again. And yes, at the risk of being unbearably banal, I am going to go here: I found that it offered a powerful spiritual lesson. 

Although from one vantage a general confession seems intimidating, from another it's a wise thing to do. We all choose the foundations that we build our lives upon. Prudently laying a foundation of bricks fortifies us for the spiritual battles we face in this dark hour. 

Jesus assures us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, and when we've cast all our cares upon him, and asked for His forgiveness, our reward is a light and carefree conscience.

But enough from me. What's your take on confession? Do you receive the sacrament regularly and believe it's beneficial? 


1 cf John 14:27, John 10:10.

2 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1116 

3 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1457.

4 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1455.

5 Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. Translated by John Clark O.C.D. ICS Publications, 1996: page 149.

6 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Page 24.

7 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1466.

8 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Page 10.

9 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Pages 25-33.

10 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD & Otilio Rodriguez, OCD. ICS Publications, 1976: Page 214.

11 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Pages 38-9.



A Brief Summary of Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical on the Rights of Workers

If you spend your money only on food, clothing and housing, you will be a slave all your life. Money should allow you to make more money so that you can travel around, broaden your vision, have more time to read more books and see the beauty of the world.  ~Miles Guo

Why is it that thirty years after the greatest revolution in history, the Communists have not produced one single inspired work of the mind?  ~Whittaker Chambers, Witness 

In his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum (Revolutionary Events), Pope Leo XIII execrates grasping employers, working men like beasts in unsanitary conditions, overworking children and paying meager wages. These conditions had become so commonplace that he called “the condition of working classes the most pressing question of the hour.” He also recognized something foul afoot with the efforts to ameliorate these conditions. 

This period of empire building, ripe with innovation, including refrigeration, canned goods, the telephone and electricity, created millionaires at the same time that it worsened conditions for the working class. Employers freely harassed female employees and paid many less than a living wage, forcing masses to leave their homelands in search of gainful employment. 

Although many workers rose up by forming unions and striking against their employers, governments used force to suppress these reformation efforts. Karl Marx's ideologies gained momentum with the formation of the First and Second International Workingmen's Associations. Social Darwinism, professing that those who cannot keep up within society aren't fit to survive, gained widespread influence and acceptance. 

With Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII provides a humane, Christ-centered solution to these economic treacheries, which recognizes the dignity of all people and preserves their natural rights. 

An encyclical is a formal letter addressed to the whole Church that speaks from the Magisterium, the Church's authority to interpret the Word of God. Rerum Novarum affirms the equality of all men before the Creator. Since we're made in the likeness of God, we all possess a dignity we're obligated to defend. It says that work is fundamental to being human, and it naturally follows that people are due remuneration in exchange for labor to use as they please, including to purchase property. As the most basic unit of society, the family has rights that precede the state. The state serves to uphold people's rights, and associations play a central role in assuring them. A state that interferes inordinately thwarts human endeavor and creativity. The Marxist solution of denying people a right to property would bring about even worse conditions and reduce people to slaves. 

Due to its articulate summation of the rights of workers, Rerum Novarum became a big hit in the canon of encyclicals. Several ensuing encyclicals commemorate and build up on it, including Pius X's Singulari Quadam in 1912, Pius XI's Quadragesimo Anno (Fortieth Year) in 1931, and two of John Paul II's encyclicals, Centesiumus Annus (100th Year) in 1991 and Laborem Exercens in 1981. It is considered the cornerstone of Catholic social teaching.

And it contains an element of prophecy. Consider this excerpt from Rerum Novarum, written 26 years before the Russian Revolution, alongside an excerpt from Robert Putnam's article “Bowling Alone,” written four years after the Soviet Union collapsed:

It is only too evident what an upset and disturbance there would be in all classes [under Socialist state supervision]...the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry...Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them.  ~Pope Leo XIII in 1891

With regard to the post communist countries, scholars and democratic activists alike have lamented the absence or obliteration of traditions of independent civic engagement and a widespread tendency toward passive reliance on the state.1  ~Robert Putnam in 1995

And now, well over a century since the encyclical's promulgation, and three decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, the problems Leo XIII set out to resolve have only grown worse. Currently, minimum wage jobs the world over barely provide a living wage, and pay nowhere near enough to enable someone to purchase property. 

In Hong Kong, a city with the most billionaires per capita, minimum wage is 37 HKD an hour ($4.50 USD), which is only enough to rent a room the size of a coffin.  Millions work all day only to return to a coffin rooms such as this one, or else a small cage.  

The massive fiscal policy response to the pandemic has increased people's dependence on the state, threatening to undermine the initiative and creativity of entire societies. Communist states like the CCP continue to flourish, while quasi-communist organizations are eager to usurp property rights from the rest of us. Consider this article, “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy and Life Has Never Been Better” by Ida Auken of the The World Economic Forum. The title speaks for itself.

Even more than 1891, the rights of workers is the most pressing question of the hour. The present-day landscape presents an urgent need to understand and embrace the principles and solutions found in Rerum Novarum. Capitulating to the alternative; giving into grasping men and communist ideologies; means, to borrow another quote from the former Communist Spy, Whittaker Chambers, “Slavery to men…and spiritual night to the human mind and soul.” 

Here is the encyclical, summarized down to about 1/4 of its original version. You can read it in its entirety here. 

Summary of Rerum Novarum

Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor

(1) The spirit of revolution has gone beyond politics and ideology, and is now seen in practical everyday life. This is a matter of grave concern. Everyone is discussing issues around industrial change, income disparity and a moral decline. 

(2) Let's talk about the conditions of working classes. It's hard to make simplifications here; it's a complicated topic. This is how evil people have exploited it.

(3) At one time, working guilds protected laborers. They've gone away, however, leaving laborers at the mercy of grasping, greedy men. 

(4) Socialists are coming in and saying that the solution for economic unphariness is for all property to be submitted to the state. This clearly isn't the solution. It will hurt the poor even more; reducing them to slaves. 

(5) Anyone who works is entitled not only to a wage, but also the right to use this money as he or she wishes--to save, to purchase land, whatever. A socialist state robs the worker of this right. 

(6) Although humans have animal characteristics, first and foremost we're endowed with intellect and the ability to reason. Unlike the beasts, we have the capacity to direct our lives. To this end, we're entitled to personal property. 

(7) We have the capacity to look into the future and plan; we can link present actions with the future. We have continual daily needs. So we have a right to the soil, so as to address these needs now and in the future. There is no need to bring the state into this natural way of things. 

(8) And so it follows that we can own land. Nothing bars us. 

(9) We must toil with the land in order to bring forth life-bearing fruit. Land bears the personality of the one who worked on it, giving him the right to the land. This, too, demonstrates that private ownership is part and parcel to natural law. 

(10) These are clear, obvious rights. People who deny them don't understand they're taking away from men what their labor has produced. “As effects follow their cause, so is it just and right that the results of labor should belong to those who have bestowed their labor.”

(11) Private property, most of us have figured out, is an inherent right. Just laws enforce it. The 9th and 10th Commandments forbid coveting that which is not ours. Upholding this right contributes to peace and tranquility. 

(12) The family precedes the state. It is a society. It has rights and duties independent from the state. Many of us have a vocation or obligation to create this society. 

(13) The father, as head of family, has a right to property in order to provide for the family. When a family enters into a larger community, the community supports this right. 

(14) It's a grave error to believe the state should intrude on the family and impose on it. If the family is in dire need of help, or violent to one another, that's a different story. But otherwise, stepping in violates natural rights. The child is of the father, the state has no place interfering with this relationship. 

(15) Abolition of property would turn people into slaves. Wealth dries up because people have zero incentive to work hard and create. The poorest would be worse off with the abolition of ownership. It must be established as an inviolable right before working on the problem of poverty. Let's now look at the proper solution. 

(16) The Church must not be silent on this. It's her duty to speak out. The state, employers, the wealthy and the working class also must contribute. To leave out the Church means striving in vain. “The Church uses her efforts not only to enlighten the mind, but to direct by her precepts the life and conduct of each and all; the Church improves and betters the condition of the working man by means of numerous organizations.”

(17) You cannot reduce society to one dead level. There's all sorts of inherent inequalities (capacity, health, skill, strength), and this is good in fact. Societies have all sorts of needs, and people choose their role according to their given capacity. Even in a state of original innocence, we'd freely choose to work, but due our fallen state, work is compulsory. 

(18) Our fallen state brings about much suffering in this valley of tears. There is no escape from it. It's delusional to promise or believe otherwise. In fact, seeking escape from suffering leads us to an even worse state. “Nothing is more useful than to look upon the world as it really is, and at the same time to seek elsewhere, as We have said, for the solace to its troubles.”

(19) Classes work together in harmony (consider what Paul writes about the body in 1 Corinthians 12). The Church functions as an intermediary to bring classes together, reminding them of their duties to each other and to justice. 

(20) The following duties bind the proletarian and the worker: work honestly and in harmony and don't associate with evil persons who falsely promise great things. Here's what binds the wealthy owner and the employer: treat the employer with the dignity worthy of a human, give him time for religious duties, don't impose unfair taxes, and don't force excessive labor. Don't use them for your own gain. Don't defraud them of wages they're due. If the employer just followed these guidelines, then there would be no strife. 

(21) We're in a place of exile, not our abiding place. In this life, it doesn't matter if we're wealthy or not. What matters is that we use what we have correctly. Jesus won a victory, but it didn't remove suffering from our present condition.

(22) If you're wealthy, take caution! This might be an obstacle to you. We have a right to possessions, but we have a moral obligation to use our money and possession for the good of all. Once you've taken care of yourself, you're obliged to care for the indigent. We must share all that we have; in giving to others, we give to God.

(23) There is no shame in work. Jesus worked! 

(24) Virtue is more important that economic status. Virtue is within reach of anyone and everyone. Jesus in fact seems to favor the poor and the oppressed. With this in mind, it's hard for the wealthy to cling to pride in their status.

(25) In a Christian context, all classes unite in a bond of brotherly love. God is the father of us all, and only he can make us happy. If we all understood this, strife would cease. 

(26) The Church is about creating solutions, not simply pointing out what the solution is. The Church is special, it's run by Jesus. This gives it a special power to touch people, teach, form consciences and so bring about right conduct that originates from a love of God and men. 

(27) Let's look to history to support this statement: it's indisputable that civil society has been improved by Christian institutions. The human race was elevated. In order to heal, we need to return to Christian precepts. No other way. 

(28) The Church is concerned with temporal as well as spiritual concerns. It wants the poor to rise above wretched circumstances. When you practice Christian virtue it naturally leads to temporal prosperity, because it puts you in a place for God to take care of you. It keeps greed and pleasure-seeking for its own sake in check. It puts all excesses in restraint. 

(29) The Church helps the poor, practically. Consider the early Christians; through generosity no one had any need. The deacons were created in order to collect contributions, and Paul collected alms for the poor in Jerusalem. 

(30) The Church has established various institutions to provide solutions to all sorts of suffering. These can't compare to state efforts. This Christian giving stems from the virtue of charity, which stems from Christ. State giving doesn't originate from this source. 

(31) We need to get everyone on the same page here, not just the Church. Only a cooperative effort can bring about right conduct and order. So let's look at the role of the state in providing remedy and relief. 

(32) The state, generally speaking, is any government disposed to right reason and natural law. The objective of the state is public well-being and private prosperity. A state prospers when it enables happiness of its citizens; i.e. imposes moderate taxes, respects religion, supports families and the arts. The head of state should create laws that serve all classes, including the poor. Doing this removes the need to single out the poor with special relief efforts. 

(33) To the state, the interest of everyone is equal. Each man shall have his due, and every citizen, including the working class which is usually the largest in a society, must be looked after. The leader must act with distributive justice toward all. 

(34) Although all citizens contribute to society, they cannot do so equally. Men who hold great power in the state should be held in high esteem, as their decisions affect everyone. The working class do not have this much influence, but they do still contribute. Virtue is the chief good in a society. The working class facilitates the development of virtue with everything they do, and allows a state to grow rich. For this reason, the state must watch out for the working class. The entire society benefits from their labor; they must receive their due. It's to everyone's interest to shield the working class from misery. 

(35) The state doesn't absorb the individual and family; it safeguards the rights of both. The point of the government is to safeguard the community. Being a ruler isn't about selfishness. The ruler emulates how God governs: guiding the community and touching individuals. 

(36) Authorities must intervene when anyone is threatened or suffers. It's in the interest of everyone that a community maintain peace and good order, follow God's laws, respect religion and family life, maintain a high moral standard, revere justice and foster a community capable of defending itself. When any of these conditions are threatened, it's right for the state to intervene, but only to the limit that's necessary to remedy the situation.

(37) The state respects everyone's rights, and punishes those who injure others. The poor have a special consideration. The wealthy can help themselves, and don't need the state so much. But the poor don't have things to fall back on and are dependent on the state. For this reason, poor wage-earners are specially cared for by the government.

(38) It's important that laws safeguard property rights, particularly in the midst of unbridled avarice. It isn't right to take from others under the pretext of inequality. Most people acquire wealth honestly. But there are bad apples for sure. 

(39) People strike due to unworkable conditions. Strikes really disrupt the economy, and threaten public peace, so the state should do what it can to prevent strikes and remedy the situations that caused them. 

(40) We all have souls. This makes us all equal. Our soul is what elevates us above the beasts, and it's our soul that makes us in the likeness of God. We owe it to God, then, to preserve our own human dignity and human rights. Consenting to treatment that makes us like servants is ignoring the duty we owe to God. 

(41) And so it follows that we don't work on Sundays and Holy days. These days are intended to devote time to religion and God, not to idleness or indulgence. It's an important duty to put worldly cares aside and focus on God and matters of the spirit. 

(42) Greedy people who work men like beasts should be held in check. We have limits on our physical capacity, and need regular rest from work. Depending on the type of work, the season of the year and a person's gender, the amount of work one can take on varies. Children should not be put into factories; this could seriously hinder their development. Women, generally, should be dedicated to housework and bringing up children.

(43) Now we'll discuss the important topic of wages. It is said that it works like this: the employer sets a wage, the worker agrees to it, and that is that. The only violation of this system would be if the employer didn't pay what he agreed to.

(44) This doesn't entirely settle the issue, however. There's more to this topic. Labor has two characteristics: personal and necessary. To say it's personal means that a person chooses whether or not to accept a job or a wage. To say it's necessary means that he must work in order to survive. You need to consider both of these characteristics with respect to wage: they're intrinsically bound together. 

(45) Even as the employer and employee agree on wages, still another justice runs deeper--that the wage is enough to live on. If the employee has to agree to unfair circumstances, he's a victim to injustice. Insofar as regulating hours, sanitary conditions etc. of factories, let society boards do that, rather than the state, as the specifics would vary greatly (so as to avoid undue interference from the state).

(46) A laborer ought to employ thrift so as to save money and become a landowner. As we've said, ownership is an inviolable right. The state law should be such that as many as possible can own land. 

(47) This will help to equally divide property. Right now, as it stands, wealth is unequally distributed. The party with all the power also has the wealth, and manipulates things to its own benefit. On the other side are the needy and the helpless; the dejected. Providing these poor with the means to acquire wealth would allow the chasm to close. Additionally, the fruits of the earth would flow more abundantly, as people's motivation increases when they receive the fruits of their own labor. Finally, people would be devoted to their native land as it provides them the means for a decent and happy life. These three benefits are only possible without excessive taxation. Man has a natural right to property, and it's cruel for the state to inordinately take earnings from them. 

(48) Organizations are a helpful means to relieve the workman's distress, and close the chasm between classes. These include private societies that provide for families due to calamity, sickness, and death. 

(49) Workingmen's unions are the most important of all. History shows us the immense benefits of artificers' guilds, which promoted the arts and helped workingmen. We need such unions to suit the needs of workers today. There are several already, but it'd be good if there were more. Now let's explain how they're needed and how they might serve.

(50) We innately understand that we're weak on our own, and in need of assistance. The Bible tells us that we're much stronger when supported by others (Eccl 4:9-10, Prov 18:19) This reality binds people together in society, and compels them to join together in associations. 

(51) Private societies are distinct from the entirety of society. The objective of a civil society is the common good. Private societies are within this commonwealth; they work toward the advantage of its members. It's our natural right to join a private society, and the state must protect this right, rather than forbid the formation of private societies. 

(52) If the private society has an unlawful aim, then ok, the state can intervene and forbid its formation. However, they must be precautious here and still preserve the rights of the individual.

(53) Let's discuss the societies, confraternities and orders within the Church. Look at what they have accomplished! The state must not control them, but rather respect and nourish them. In many instances, however, the state has taken hold of these associations, violently, depriving them of their rights. How can we not speak out against this, particularly when the same states allow dangerous private societies to exist? 

(54) We have good reason to think that many of these societies are run by secret leaders, with nefarious purposes. They aim to force men to either join the society or starve. Working men have two options, then: either join the society, or else form their own societies and unite against these societies. We encourage the latter. 

(55) Many Catholics today have striven to better the lives of others through righteous means. They encourage everyone to follow the precept of the Gospel, which encourages harmony and moderation. They're encouraging the working class to join associations and helping them find work. Bishops show their support. Affluent Catholics have made huge investments to establish benefit and insurance societies for wage earners. All these efforts have benefited society immensely. We find great hope in this. The State needs to support this, and not thwart the spirit which inspires these movements. “For things move and live by the spirit inspiring them, and may be killed by the rough grasp of a hand from without.” 

(56) An association needs good governing, rules and organization in order to be fruitful. As to the organization, specifically—this depends on the particulars of each individual situation. 

(57) A workingmen's association should achieve the objective of bettering the individual's body, soul and property. The association needs to work towards religious and moral objectives, otherwise it's simply a secular organization. Remember what Jesus said: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world...” A Christian seeks God first, then material goods follow. And so these associations first and foremost are about strengthening the individual's relationship to God, and thoroughly educating them about false teachings. Let the workingman live a devout and sacramental Catholic life.

(58) The foundation of the society is based in religion: let's now speak of the relationship of members to one another. The offices should be designated for the betterment of the entire society. The duties of each office must be carefully mapped out, and funds handled honestly. Respecting the rights of the employer and employee is key. If a dispute arises, have members of the association help to settle the dispute. One function of the society should be the continual employment of its members, as well as assisting its elderly and maimed members. 

(59) These regulations are sure to help the less well-off, as well as bring prosperity to the state. Let's learn from the past: the early Christians, on balance, were really poor. However, they demonstrated themselves to be so honest, hardworking and peaceful that they eventually won the favor of the rich and powerful. 

(60) This condition of the working class is the foremost issue of our time, and we'd all like to have it settled. Christian working men can solve it straight away by forming associations and following in the steps of their forefathers. Other people, seeing their devotion to right duty over lucre, will likewise be won over.

(61) If things transpired as we've described here, much hope would spring forth, including from those who'd given up on their faith. Usually these men feel duped by empty promises. All they see is their grasping employer and a union beset by strife. And so they're broken in spirit. Catholic associations want to reach out to these working men, to ease their difficulties and provide them companionship and repose. 

(62) Now we've identified both the people and the means by which to solve this arduous problem. Let's speedily get to work, so that evil may not advance further. Commonwealths, masters, and workers must be lawful and mindful of their duties. Religion alone can destroy evil at its root, and so without re-establishing Christian morals, the best-laid plans will fail. 

(63) The Church will intervene in this matter, let all those who safeguard the public welfare be certain. All ministers in the Church must put all their energy toward this, and urge all classes to follow the Gospel. Use every means to secure the good of the people and arouse the queen of virtues, charity, which sacrifices for the sake of others and is the antidote to worldly pride. 

(64) “On each of you, venerable brethren, and on your clergy and people, as an earnest of God's mercy and a mark of Our affection, we lovingly in the Lord bestow the apostolic benediction.

Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the fifteenth day of May, 1891, the fourteenth year of Our pontificate.”


1 "Bowling Alone, America's Declining Social Capital" Robert Putnam, 1995