CATHOLIC SOCIAL GUILD
How to Run a Study Circle.
The Purpose. The Social Question in its various aspects is a moral question. It requires for its solution not merely a true understanding of technical and economic matters, but also the knowledge and practice of right conduct, of Christian virtue, on the part both of individuals and of society and social groups. The Church has repeatedly expounded the principles which are essential to sound social life. Her teaching is based on God's purpose in human nature and society, and she expects us to understand it. She looks to the influence of a lay social apostolate among all classes and she desires the clergy to assist in training men for this apostolate by Retreats and by Study Circles (Encyclicals Quadragesimo Anno, paras. 20, 143; Divini Redemptoris, 64).
Private study, both of actual facts and of moral principles is indispensable, but, both by the nature of the subject and because our aim is practical, the study circle method has peculiar advantages. It secures intellectual co-operation; each member contributes his share to the work and each profits from the pooled experience of all. It develops the power of clear thought and expression, so sadly needed. While it encourages frank but friendly examination of each others' views, widely divergent at times in regard to practical matters, the study club provides an opportunity to discuss social problems in a Catholic atmosphere and from the standpoint of Catholic principle.
How to Make a Start. A small number, from four to twelve, is quite enough. With large numbers there is a danger of students losing touch and of the discussions turning into debates between two or three. All must have an active share in the work if the circle is to prosper. Choose a subject and text-book. A list of suggestions is appended, but other books can be recommended for special needs. Write to us if you want advice. Fix a time and place for meetings, weekly meetings if possible. Insist on the need for regular attendance and punctuality in commencing and ending the meetings. If you cannot find a club-room or a school, try to arrange to meet in the home of one or other of the members.
Elect a secretary, whose chief duties will be to keep a register of attendances and attend to occasional correspondence with headquarters at Oxford. The office may, at times, even be combined with that of treasurer (if one is needed) and of chairman. Students may often be recruited under the auspices of another Catholic society.