Fr. Voigt- "There will be no perfect justice in this world."Thus spoke my philosophy professor, Fr. Ochio, and truer words could not be uttered when one considers the court system of the modern world. "Unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Today we must consider this cardinal virtues with a little bit more seriousness. What is the meaning of this virtue? Where is
it in the order of salvation? What does one do in order to practice justice in one's life?
In the first place, virtue is either natural or supernatural. Natural virtues do not bring about the salvation of the soul. They come to us because of our family disposition, our character, the friends we seek out. On the other hand a supernatural virtue comes to us through the desire we have of glorifying God. Supernatural virtues are developed through habitual acts of the will.
In a sense we repress injustice in order that justice might flourish in our personality. Virtues of the supernatural type are fed by the supernatural desire to please God. Vices are repressed in order that virtue might become dominant. Let's consider the tree of virtue.
In the tree of virtue at the top we find the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity or which charity is the heights. From the theological virtues we move to the cardinal (hinge) virtues of justice, temperance, prudence and fortitude. Justice is the handmaid of charity and the key to true love. In my youthful days I used to help my friend, Bob, deliver newspapers to customers on his route. Day after day we rode the streets and threw the daily paper onto the porch of the subscribers. At the end of the month we had to take our collection book and visit the people to receive our money to pay the newspaper and receive our wage for the month.
Now one good lady was very difficult for us. She would invite us in for soda and cookies and treat us very well except she never brought out her payment. After her kindness she would show us to the door. Bob would always have to put out his hand and boldly say, "Where is your payment?" We can be treated with all kindness but we wanted justice, our fee. It is the same in the world today. Tolerance abounds, justice is forgotten. Fraternity is sought but on what level...the flesh. Equality is lauded without understanding that it has degenerated to license. All of this takes place because justice is neither known nor practiced.
Justice is the supernatual virtue by which the soul gives to God first what is due to Him...Glory.
When a soul seeks the glory of God and the salvation of souls, then that soul is filled with the sense of justice. Such a one does not steal from another; such a one does not focus on sense pleasures or use others for their own sense satisfaction. If justice were known and understood, there would be no cry for divorce. There would be only the judgment on one's soul "Does this act please God?"
Justice places the priority of our lives in proper perspectice. Justice is tied to the other cardinal virtues of temperance, prudence and fortitude. These virtues must be understood and put into practice to develop the interior life of Christ within us. Justice is the foretaste of the kingdom of God. Mercy is for this world then God's justice comes upon those who failed to accept His mercy.
Mercy expresses itself in patience with the sins, faults and failings of our neighbor. Our anger towards our neighbor is unjustified and can lead us to hell. We allow our anger to get the better of us and so we call our brothers, "fools". Our judgment and condemnation of others is the condemnation of ourselves for "as we forgive so shall we be forgiven."
Oh, how significant it is to develop the virtuous life for the kingdom of God is within you and you must feed that which brings it about. Practice justice in all aspects of your life: in prayer, in work and in word. Keep your heart and mind focused upon the kingdom of God and all else shall be given thee besides. Examine your conscience with a glance at the expressions of justice that you consciously develop in your character and you will be walking toward God's kingdom.
In the hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Fr. Richard Voigt