A theme underlying the Catechism’s teaching on the virtue of justice, but which could easily be missed, is that justice is a virtue by which we focus on others’ rights and claims.
We are perhaps encouraged by our culture to be aware of justice or injustice in the political sphere. But apart from that, our culture today teaches us to be most aware of injustices done to ourselves. We are taught to ask “what about me?” rather constantly. Granted, in a world where we can easily be victimised by entire systems of injustice, this is an important and necessary question to ask. The virtue of justice does not require us to be victims. On the contrary, this virtue is about opposing injustice wherever we find it. But, it is possible to go overboard here. It is the justice of the nursery, of the two-year-old, and of the ghetto, that regards everyone as a potential robber and enemy. It is important to grasp that in the virtue of justice, its principal act is to honour the legitimate rights and claims of others.
So then, St. Thomas Acquinas tells us in his Summa Theologica (II.II, Q.58:1): ‘It is proper to justice, as compared with the other virtues, to direct man in his relations with others.’ The other virtues – prudence, courage and temperance – are formed within the mind and emotions of the individual. They may involve other people, but they may not. Justice, on the other hand, exists in relation to others. It works to maintain a certain equity between a need and the fulfilment of that need. The obvious example is in the payment of a just wage for a service rendered. But there are deeper and more subtle considerations relative to justice, which we shall explore in the coming posts.
Worth Gate Thursday 19th January, 12‐12.30pm
St Mildred’s Church, Church Lane, CT1 2PP Business and commerce Innovation and integrity
Wincheap was one of Canterbury’s thriving markets, with traders coming in from far and wide to sell their wares. Today we pray for the thousands of businesses which make this city such a vibrant place to live. We pray that those who do business here will operate in honesty, integrity and generosity.
During the Olympics, in 1212, a sensitive idea was brought forward by church leaders: namely to have a pre-Olympic celebration of Christianity called 100 Days of Peace. The aim was to ensure that the theme of Peace would be held to as a religious and Christian theme, especially in the minds of young school children, rather than the typical Olympic image of political peace, a kind of convenient truce between States that were, in other respects, keen to fight each other.
The Peace Corner that we set up in one area of our Newham church of St. Francis was the work of children from our primary school. We also held a prayer service with music and singing by the children and the presentation of their works of art. Themes such as the trafficking of children, the need for Fair Trade mentalities, and inter-racial friendship communicated the difficult long-term commitment needed for overcoming upheaval and distress.
Peace was presented therefore as deeply desirable but also often elusive. Not something that we can afford to treat with glibness. This is a valid point about what creates a genuinely supportive network of relationships. The Paralympics, later in the summer, were a great success, and in many ways a vindication of the churches’ message of better listening and greater kindness. To be ready to celebrate the sporting achievements of those with serious physical handicaps is the beginning of a move towards a more inclusive view of Peace.
The notion of a worshipping community as a place of inclusiveness appeared as a spirituality of initiatives among the marginalised in the days of St. Francis.