(From a 2012 Lent and Easter series of sermons on the Catholic Virtues.)
When John the Baptist was arrested Jesus began his preaching. He said, “Repent and believe in the gospel”. That is, look back on your sins with sorrow and contrition, and believe the good news that God will forgive you and make a new life possible, a new life that involves living a certain way. And so I am talking this Lent about the virtues, beginning with the human moral virtues, cardinal among them prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. I’ve done prudence, which discerns the true good and the right means to achieve it. Today, let’s think about justice.
Justice is a good thing, and everybody wants it, especially for themselves. To each his due. Each should get what he or she deserves. Human rights demand respect. When I was a child I pledged allegiance to the flag and to the republic, one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. Then, we all sat down to our studies, and if someone was copying off of my test paper, or broke the rules of the game on the playground, I knew justice had been violated. “Not fair!” comes naturally to our lips. It’s less obvious what we owe others, perhaps because of self-interest, but what others are due is often obvious enough if we take the time to put ourselves in their shoes.
For example, you crunch somebody’s fender in the parking lot, and nobody saw it. Do you leave your name and phone number? The virtue of justice says – yes! They didn’t deserve that, my own negligence caused it, I owe them compensation. Or, you are remodeling someone’s kitchen and it turns out to cost less than your originally estimated. Do you stick with your original estimate? Justice says, no! if I had known then what I know now I would have estimated less, so that’s the fair price to charge, otherwise I’d be taking advantage of their ignorance. I owe my customer the truth, and a fair price for a good job.
These are examples of what they call commutative justice, having to do with the exchange of goods and services. Distributive justice has to do with the relations between individuals and groups. Like paying taxes. In justice I should be willing to support the system from which I benefit. Freeloaders are unjust because they are getting something for nothing, forcing others to support them when they could be supporting themselves. So, do you cheat on your taxes by hiding income or claiming deductions that don’t apply to you? Or do you write tax laws to benefit your cronies? These are matters of justice.
A subcategory of distributive justice is social justice, which directs attention to situations where customary ways, or perhaps even the law, deny people what they are due. Racism can do that, even if it is trying to remedy past racism. And there can be established patterns of property ownership, educational opportunities, or cultural expectations that keep people trapped in poverty. Some years ago Archbishop Helder Camara in Brazil said something like “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor they call me a communist.” These days, if you inquire into the causes of poverty you might as likely be called a right wing extremist, blaming the poor for their drug addictions and poor work ethic. But exploiting the welfare system to escape work and responsibility is indeed unjust, and doing nothing to change a system that keeps people dependent is also unjust.
Justice is the virtue that respects the right of others and gives them what they are due. This is obviously important, but it is not enough, because although we all seem to have an innate sense of justice, we have big arguments about what people are entitled to. For example, consider this quote:
It’s a little high-flying, but it sounds pretty obvious. I wouldn’t want to tell somebody that they don’t have a right to their own ideas about the meaning of life. Recognize the quote? It’s from a Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, 1992, which struck down restrictions on abortion passed by the Pennsylvania legislature.
The logic here is that if, in your personal concept of the mystery of human life you decide that a the little human being living in the womb is not due the right to keep living, then he or she is not due the right to keep living. Pretty amazing logic. It implies that there is no objective basis for determining matters of justice, of right, of what people are due. It’s all a matter of my personal concept of meaning of the universe, And it implies that if you are strong enough to impose your concept of meaning on someone else, it’s no injustice to impose it. Might makes rights.
Now some say, “so what?” This has always been the case. No human society has ever been anything more than some imposing their concept on others. The rich write the laws, and the winners write the history. There’s a little truth to this. The police and the military are evidence that human society sometimes requires force to maintain itself, history is full of tyrants keeping order by coercion – but we are speaking of justice, of what is right, of what one is due, not merely of what one may happen to want and can force on others.
Is it possible, is there an objective basis for knowing what is right and just? I think so. Frankly, I think the Supreme Court was just blowing smoke. But discerning justice requires a high degree of objectivity. One must be able to step back from one’s own desires and recognize them for what they are – fickle, limited, personal, not necessarily grounded in reality or binding on other people. To be that objective isn’t easy, because it requires a concept of existence that doesn’t put oneself at the center of the universe. Which is why I would submit that it is extremely difficult, maybe well-nigh impossible, to give others their due unless I give God His due; what we mean when, in response to “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God”, we say “it is right and just.”
Return to What's New page
Return to HOME PAGE
Hover-Link Footnotes: For the convenience of those readers using devices that lack a mouse, these footnotes are provided for all webpages, in case any webpage contains any hover-links. (If you don't have a mouse, you can't "hover" over a link.)
Respond to This Article Below The Last Entry
Monday, March 11, 2013
Converted Page to SBI! Release 3.0 BB 2.0.
Date: Tue Dec 02 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
Changes pursuant to changing the website URL
and name from
Thinking Catholic Strategic Center to
Catholic American Thinker.
Pulled the trigger on the 301 MOVE IT option June 1, 2014. Working my way through all the webpages. .
Please note the language and tone of this monitored Website. This is not the place to stack up vulgar
one-liners and crude rejoinders. While you may support, oppose or
introduce any position or argument, submissions must meet our
standards of logical rigor and civil discourse. We will not
participate in merely trading insults, nor will we tolerate participants merely
trading insults. Participants should not be
thin-skinned or over sensitive to criticism, but should be prepared to
defend their arguments when challenged. If you don’t really have a
coherent argument or counter-argument of your own, sit down and don’t
embarrass yourself. Nonsensical, immoral or merely insulting submissions will
not be published here. If you have something serious to contribute to
the conversation, back it up, keep it clean and keep it civil. We humbly
apologize to all religious conservative thinkers for the need to even say
these things, but the New Liberals are what they are, and the internet is what it is.
If you fear intolerant Leftist repercussions, do not use your real name and do not include email or any identifying information. Leftists can never tolerate opposition or your freedom of speech.
Never be lukewarm.
Life itself demands passion.
He who is indifferent to God has already forfeited his soul.
He who is indifferent to politics has already forfeited his liberty.
In America, religion is not mere window dressing and citizenship is not a spectator sport.
Do not allow our common destiny as a whole people to just happen without your input.
Catholic American Thinker Free E-zine Subscription
Click the image above to
publish your essay or article here,
to be included among those below.
Special Articles and
(Note: copyrights on these articles wherever present will supersede the WebSite copyright at the bottom footer of every WebPage)
Faith, from the Easter series on the Three Theological Virtues. The virtue of Faith; One of the Seven Heavenly Virtues.
Hope, from the Easter series on the Three Theological Virtues. The virtue of Hope; One of the Seven Heavenly Virtues.
Love, from the Easter series on the Three Theological Virtues. The virtue of Love; One of the Seven Heavenly Virtues.
Prudence, from the Lenten series on the Four Cardinal Virtues. The virtue of Prudence; One of the Seven Heavenly Virtues.
Justice, from the Lenten series on the Four Cardinal Virtues. The virtue of Justice; One of the Seven Heavenly Virtues.
Temperance and Fortitude, from the Lenten series on the Four Cardinal Virtues. The virtues of Temperance and Fortitude; Two of the Seven Heavenly Virtues.
On the word Consubstantial, the Trinity and Infinity. On the Consubstantial (Single Substance) of God, and the mathematically impossible number of Infinity.
The challenge describes Capitalism as illusory and Marxism as solid. The mixture of religion just adds to the confusion of all good realists.
The Obama Ethos: Who is Barack Obama? What is his grounding, his ethos? The Obama Ethos explores Obama's grounds of being; his religious, moral and political guiding principles.
Obama the Moslem: Introducing Comrade Obama (peace be upon him.) Obama the Moslem: anti-Catholic; anti-Chrisitan; anti-Jew; anti-American.
Freedom, yes – but from whom, and to do what? Is freedom from God enslavement to the world? Is freedom from the world enslavement to God? Which is better?
The Room: Born of that still inner voice. A story about a small church pastor who erects a small room to serve as a mediation room for his parishioners.
Are Catholics Saved, by having been Born Again? The theology of salvation: Catholic vs. Protestant.
Love thy neighbor as thyself: the Law in One Sentence. Can one simple sentence contain the whole of the moral Law of God?
The Catholic call is universal; it goes out to everyone. Although the Catholic call goes out to all, man’s free will means that all will not respond.
God’s Perfect Unconditional Love meets man’s Free Will. Perfect Unconditional Love can be rejected. Liberty and free choice may be a blessing or a curse.
Of Weeds and Wheat growing together, and the eventual separation. - Weeds and wheat in the field differs from in human kind, where either one can become the other.
Why Should I Believe in God? - an article by Eugene Rudder.
On Losing You - a poem by Rosemarie A. Stone.
Our Beautiful Love - a poem by Rosemarie A. Stone.
Catholic Communism: Similarities between Church Hierarchy and Pure Bureaucracy. Mises said that Communism equals Bureaucracy; the Church is a bureaucracy, therefore we have Catholic Communism. True?
The Source of Anxiety: Improper Priorities. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
“I, Pencil … ”; Capitalism in a Nutshell. Leonard E. Read
Endless Concessions to the Palestinians Pamela Levene
The Peace Treaty Sajid Ali Khan
Leftist Politics in Catholic Mass Mark Brumbaugh
The USCCB Flip-Flop Mark Brumbaugh
Open Letter to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo Mark Brumbaugh
The Gift Bearers Michael from Florida
Dear Vic And Others ... John Felland
The Church Is Rotten To The Core Michelle Lobdell
Hatred of Palin Janet Morana
Proper Catechesis Susan Greve
Who is Barack Obama? Pastor Robert Legg Greve
Limited War Doctrine Colonel Thomas Snodgrass
Rabbi Meir Kahane's Letter Rabbi Meir Kahane, OBM
Solzhenitsyn Speaks Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn addresses the AFL/CIO.
The American Constitution (American Founding Fathers)
American Democrat Party Platform Karl Marx and Frederick Engles
Prof. Libor Brom
Re The Sin Of Scandal Phil Lange
Marxist Infiltration into Catholic Thought Nancy Libert
New "race and racism" thread begun by Stephen from VT. On race and racism: the ever changing definition and generic usage of the word "racism."
The Bush War Doctrine Revisited: a fresh look at our horrible situation. A reproduction of the "Bush War Doctrine Revisited" article and discussion points by David Yerushalmi; there is much food for thought here.
Resignation of Benedict XVI and the Immediate Media Firestorm. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and Rev. Marcel Guarnizo's interview with the author that caused the international media frenzy.
The Jewish Shabbat. Description of Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) from my Holy Land item supplier.
Kerry's Lies: The Old, Vietnam-Era Anti-War Chickens are Comming Home to Roost. POW Lawsuit Could Force Kerry To Come Clean - by George "Bud" Day, Chairman, Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation.
Just Laws for a Godly Nation. Many nations today still lack a core of just laws for a Godly nation.
What does the World Wildlife Fund have to do with World Youth Day? An unholy alliance between the Leftist WWF and the Vatican?
False Flag: Serious-minded fiction creating a better understanding of 9/11. Can serious-minded fiction play a role in creating a better understanding of critical contemporary social/political issues like 9/11?
Bringing the Liturgy Back to the Real Vatican II. Cardinal Burke Comments on Sacra Liturgia Conference
Layman letter to all bishops. Letter to Bishops from Mariann / Mary's Child
Fetal-Microchimerism gives new meaning to the bonding of Motherhood. How the unborn child blesses the mother and physically changes her, for the rest of her life.
Ars celebrandi et adorandi - Pastoral Letter from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. With Ars celebrandi et adorandi, all Springfield IL Catholic Parishes move Jesus back to the center of life! YES!
To be, or not no be lukewarm; that is the question. Whether tis nobler to fight the good fight, or just smile and be nice ...
Technology: a Two Edged Sword. Technology can be used for good, or for evil.
More American Imperial Edicts Issuing Forth out of Obamunism. Archbishop Schnurr joins Rick Santorum in identifying American Imperial Edicts from this administration.
Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum; Apostolic letter on 1962 Rite.
The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum confirms the 1962 Latin Rite as the 'Extraordinary' Roman Liturgical Rite.
The Pope's Letter to Bishops on Summorum Pontificum. Benedict XVI's Letter to Bishops on Summorum Pontificum issued the same day as the Motu Proprio.
The Explanatory Note on Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. An 'Explanatory Note on Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum' issued by the Vatican.
A concerned Catholic spotlights Catholic funded Alinsky organizations. The Alinskyite Gamaliel Foundation underpins multiple Catholic funded Alinsky organizations.
From Shane Leslie Mattison, whose father was Elden Mattison Woolliams. Annecdotes from Shane Leslie Mattison.
Dr. Ben Carson, Champion of God, Family, Country and Decency in Government. Ben Carson can return America to being a Constitutional Republic once again.
A submission from someone who would be Pope. If all the last five or so Popes have been invalid Popes, then, where's the valid one? Why, Brother Michael, of course!
If you can't find the page you're looking for, try the