I can’t help but notice that society as a whole is obsessed with justice.
You can’t turn on the news or open the newspaper without seeing stories about crimes, criminals, their judgments, and outrage over cases.
Books, movies, and television shows about crime top popularity lists … and have for years.
“Law and Order,” “Criminal Minds,” “Cold Case.”
“Die Hard,” “Fargo,” “Rear Window.”
Netflix has exploded with binge-worthy series like “Making a Murderer” and “The Keepers.”
Podcasts like “Serial,” “Someone Knows Something,” and many others dealing with crime have developed quite a following.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? I do!
But there’s another side to justice … one more important to us as Catholics.
It’s the Catholic virtue.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:
“Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.”
The justice that we as saints-in-training should be most concerned with is US giving their due to others.
But it doesn’t seem like the world is too focused on giving others their due.
We’re very quick to criticize others when they slight us in some way. Instead of affording them the respect they deserve … and recognizing that we all make mistakes.
This week, Genuflect gives justice its due with a look at what the virtue is, what individual justice and social justice are, what is not Catholic social justice, Saints who stood up to injustice, and how to cope when people let you down.
Our obsession with crime shows doesn’t have to stop … thank goodness! We all just need to start obsessing over practicing the virtue of justice in our daily lives.
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As the virtues go, justice isn’t the most popular—we would much rather hear about mercy or pardon, at least in regard to ourselves. And yet, justice is one of the most important virtues a man can possess. There is no such thing as holiness or righteousness without justice. Let’s explore the concept a little further.
St. Thomas Aquinas ranked justice as the second of the cardinal virtues, behind prudence, but before fortitude and temperance. It’s good to know what it is, but you should also know what justice is not …. and the relationship between justice and rights.
If you asked a group of people what the idea of “justice” conjured up in their minds, most would probably tell you it made them think of a criminal getting punished. This is a sadly limited and negative conception of justice. Here’s what you need to know about the virtue of Justice.
As we saw in the last section, justice is the virtue whereby we give others what we owe them. We have already discussed justice in relation to individuals (God and neighbor), as well as the proper relation between justice and the closely connected themes of love and mercy. Now we will look at how we are to preserve our proper relationship to various groups of people.
The vocation to pursue justice is not simply an individual task — it is a call to work with others to humanize and shape the institutions that touch so many people. The lay vocation for justice cannot be carried forward alone, but only as members of a community called to be the “leaven” of the Gospel. Though this article was written more than ten years ago, it provides some sound advice on how to apply the virtue of justice to your everyday life.
Aelredus Rievallensis has been trying for a long time to fathom what makes him uneasy about the concept and rhetoric of “social justice.” Michael Novak pointed out recently that part of the problem is taking social “justice” not as a true virtue present in individuals, but rather as a mere matter of policy. For a Catholic trying to think today in the tradition of Catholic social teaching, the root of the problem runs deeper.
Some of the greatest teachings of the Catholic Church are focused on social justice. Putting social justice into action means caring for those less fortunate, speaking up when you see injustice, striving for unity rather than division and protecting life in all its varied, wonderful forms. Here are three Catholic saints who lived out their faith on the front lines of injustice, acting with love, mercy and charity in some amazing and unifying ways.
It takes strength in virtue to stand up for injustice in our midst. Scripture says, “God stirred up the holy spirit” in Daniel—a young boy, not even a man yet. He was willing to step out of the audience and engage with the accusers to find out the truth. Here’s how you can stand up to injustice in your daily life.
Being let down can range from something relatively minor, like a friend forgetting your birthday to a major betrayal such as your partner having an affair. But when it happens, we often feel hurt, angry, or rejected (and often all three). Here are some lessons on how to handle situations when others let us down.
Restorative justice initiatives are taking place in prisons around the country, bringing together offenders and victims of violent crime in the hope of fostering healing and rehabilitation. In a correctional system struggling to deal with massive overcrowding, budget shortfalls, and high rates of recidivism, restorative justice is offering a new way forward for American prisons.
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