Structures of Grace

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In his encyclical Sollicitudo rei socialis (“On Social Concerns,” 1984) Pope St. John Paul II wrote of “structures of sin” operating in the world and how Christian solidarity held the key to confronting and overcoming them.

In Structures of Grace teacher and activist Kevin Ahern profiles successful Catholic organizations from around the globe—some well-known, some less so—that embody Christian solidarity by addressing the urgent human issues of our day: immigration and human rights; healthcare and housing; food, agriculture, and water; war, peace and reconciliation.

In telling the stories of organizations such as Jesuit Refugee Service, the Young Christian Workers, Plowshares and Network, Dr. Ahern sheds light on the mission, theology, and outreach of hundreds of such organizations, offering church professionals, students, educators, and volunteers a "directory of grace" at work in the world today.

Kevin Ahern, Ph.D., is assistant professor of religious studies at Manhattan College. He has served as President of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS-Pax Romana), a network of students in over eighty countries. He is editor of Visions of Hope: Emerging Theologians and the Future of the Church, which won First Place in Theology from the Catholic Press Association.

Book Details

Structures of Grace
Catholic Organizations Serving the Global Common Good
Kevin Ahern
index, appendix
File name Filesize
Structures of Grace Table of Contents 122 Kb
Remarkably enlightening and encouraging.
A testament to the power of Christian social organizations to bring about social transformation.
... exceptionally well-written, well-documented, yet remarkably brief.... If you are involved in building a better world, if you believe in the reign of God which grows among us, if you know that you cannot do this alone, please read, enjoy and share this fine work with those you are privileged to share this vision with.
Ahern examines the role and theological significance of what he calls “Christian social movements” (5), the mediating organizations that provide critical counterbalances of justice in the face of oppressive social structures.... For all those ready to put the liberating message of the Gospels and Catholic social thought to work, this is one resource to have in hand for the work ahead.
Encapsulating both the essence and the imminent problems faced by social justice movements in Christianity, Ahern provides not only an analytical narrative of what these Christian movements have accomplished, but also inspires the reader to see what they may become. The stories of all Christian movements are intertwined in the sense that, much like the faith from which they draw their inspiration, there is a great uncertainty, only outpaced by a greater hope.
In Structures of Grace, Ahern sketches a roadmap for church professionals, students, educators, and volunteers in order to show how Christian social movements can persevere in our globalized 21st century context.... [It] is ultimately meant to be a practical, rather than a theoretical, exploration of the common realities that surface within Christian Social Movements. As such, this text is not meant to remain on one’s bookshelf. Rather, it is meant to be returned to as a guide for all of us seeking the common good in an age marked by “the globalization of indifference.”
Offers a refreshing message of courage and hope based on the wisdom of diverse Christian social movements. This book not only provides a blueprint for advancing the church’s social mission and constructing grassroots structures of grace that can struggle against pernicious structures of sin, but it also accentuates the necessary practices of communal discernment and self-care in complex global dynamics.
Kevin Ahern provides an excellent framework for reviewing the role of social movements inspired by the Christian Churches' "turn to justice and peace." His theological reflection on a diversity of experiences points in an encouraging way to the dynamic presence of God's grace at work in many of the movements that have made a mark on Church and society. Structures of Grace will help many of us understand the mission to which we have given our lives.
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