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Utter Perversion of Mankind…from Injustice?

February 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Book Club, Cardinal Virtues, Justice, Sarah Reinhard

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The Four Cardinal Virtues (Week 6 of 12)
Utter Perversion of Mankind…from Injustice?

Justice is a hot word in some circles, and it's one that gets tossed around and not so deeply considered. I didn't realize just how true that was until I dove into this week's reading.

Last week, we read that justice is the only virtue that's an external act. This week, in chapter 3, we read two striking bits:

Justice simply means “doing one's own work” and “fulfilling one's own task.” (paragraph 11)

And then this:

We would do well to bear in mind that the uttermost perversion of mankind lies not in excess, which can be easily read in man's bearing and behavior, but in injustice, which, being essentially of the spirit, is not so readily distinguishable. We ought to be prepared to find that the most powerful embodiment of evil in human history, the Antichrist, might well appear in the guise of a great ascetic. (paragraph 13)

Um, ‘scuse me? Did anyone else do a double-take with that?

If ever I thought justice was someone else's worry (ahem) or the concern of people other than me (cough), I guess I have been corrected quite loudly here.

In fact, in chapter 4, Pieper goes on to outline Aquinas's three forms of justice, and they make sense when you stop to think about just simply wading through life.

First, we have our relationships with other people. Then we have the relationships of the social whole with individuals. Finally, there's the relationships of individuals to the social whole. So there's a multi-faceted approach, and justice is tying it all together. How we relate to that other singular person has as much to do with justice as how we relate to society and the larger group. And, in the same way, the way society (the larger group) relates to us is as important to justice as those individual relationships.

And suddenly, the way that confession and communion play into justice becomes clear. How can we be at peace if there is injustice within us? In chapter 5, Pieper shows us how restitution — and dare I say also forgiveness? — plays a part in justice. In fact, I walked away from these chapters realizing that the justice in my home and my personal life is every bit as critical as that justice (or injustice, as it were) in the larger world that has me up in arms.

I can't help but see that my domestic church and my little circle of influence is as important for justice in the world as the “bigger picture.” In fact, the bigger picture may be happening in my living room and not so much on the big screen.

I guess that would be why we're reading this book and diving into the virtues, huh?

Reading Assignment:

Chapter 6, Justice

Discussion Questions:

1. How can you practice justice in your own life? What small practices can you put in place to make the act of justice a habit that's integrated into how you live your life?

2. Do you need to make something right that was or is unjust in your life? What steps can you take to make that restitution?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Andy

    I need to refocus myself whenever I deal with other people. Rather than think about how someone else affects me, I need to give that person his/her due and consider how I affect that person. I need to go beyond myself and consider other people in whatever I do.

  • Patricia

    God has perfect mercy and justice. He is always willing to forgive and Jesus tells us to forgive 70×7…… But there is supossed to be an element of repentance – realizing that wrong has be done which has harmed another, and retribution is to be made. We forgive others so that bitterness and thoughts of revenge do not eat away at our soul.
    In these days of Divine Mercy, people do wrong and others tell them not to worry because God has already forgiven them. People don’t seem to have that sense of justice these days, that they have done someone an injustice, perhaps caused them damages that cost a lot of money to repair or damaged their reputation. They don’t say they are sorry and ask for forgiveness, nor do they make any attempt whatsoever to repair their damages or even look back. We hear that we must forgive that person, even thougt they don’t deserve it. I realize that we have been forgiven and we don’t deserve all God has done God us and we should be grateful and “play it forward”. But what about justice? Is that just lost in the shuffle? Sorrow, repentance, and restitution used to be an essential part of/ condition for forgiveness. Are we helping others spiritually by ignoring that part of the formula or is this passé now? And what about the statement from Scripture that says that only God can forgive sins?

    • Donna Sullivan

      You will enjoy the next chapter, which deals with the need for recompense and restitution in regard to justice.

  • Sista T

    Yesterdays reading in The Magificate if you have one says it all. Trust and Justice go hand in hand. For His love is greater than All things, and I Am His!

    • Mary L

      Where did you see that in the magnificat? I can’t find it

  • Sista T

    The Truth shall be made known, Who, What, and where is that Truth? Jesus, His teaching, should Be in your heart. If we listen to what He tells us, even when we fail, we trust in him, we should help others when they too fail as Jesus loved us, we should Love our neighbor, But, Peacefully like He did. You can’t convert thru Hate, violence, and anger, greed and selfiousness. Give what he gave yourself and He will do the rest!

  • LizEst

    Please review our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on site here: paying special attention to question number 4 with regards to length of post and pasting into a post from other sources.

    • Patricia

      Dear Liz,
      Thank you for sending the link for your FAQ. This is the first I have seen it, although it had been mentioned before , when I had looked around on the site I didn’t it see it. I have read it very carefully now. I had cut and pasted several paragraphs into Word in order to shorten and edit it while preserving the beauty and truth of the concepts of Justice/Mercy. The text seemed to be the perfect response to a question posed and that is why I included it. This is an important issues in these days and times.
      I have read now the FAQ and understand that info from other sources brings coding issues with it, and I hope that posting didn’t cause a problem. Thanks for listing the title and author of this excellent commentary.

      • LizEst

        You’re welcome, Patricia. By the way, the FAQ icon link is at the top of every page on our site, on the left hand side, directly to the right of the icon which says “Home”. Just click on FAQ to get to the FAQ page!

        • Patricia

          Yes, thank you, I see it on the home page. I opened this morning’s e-mail and looked on that opening page, and that is where I looked before, and did not see it there, although it has Info about Avila Institute, inviting Dan to speak, and unsubscribing, etc. But once I click on the “read more” section of the post, it goes to the home page and I see FAQ at the top of the page there.

          • LizEst

            …and it is on every page, at the top of the page, in the same location as it is on the home page! …and, it has been there for a long, long time. Our eyes have a way of tricking us sometimes. I remember when I first looked for it years ago…I couldn’t find it either, until my eyes were opened. There’s a similarity here with the spiritual life. We need the Lord to open our spiritual eyes. There a whole lot of us that are blind to things, myself included. God bless you, Patricia.

    • Donna Ruth

      Are you suggesting Patricia’s post was too long? I am new to this online book club, so I would like to know what is considered to be too long.

      • LizEst

        Thank you for asking, Donna Ruth…and welcome to the book club! We are happy you are joining us!

        To answer your question: No, I am not suggesting her post was too long…it was too long! We edited it and took out the portion in question…so the long part is not in her comment, which is why you don’t see it (the author and title of it was left in).

        Here are just a few examples of what could constitute “Too Long”: Too long is taking a lot of content from another source and putting it on our site. Just include the link and we will check it to see if we will allow the link. Too long is writing a comment that is the same length as what the author of the post has written, or longer! Too long is going on and on and on and on and saying the same thing over and over and over and/or not getting to the point.

        Since you are new to the site and are interested in learning about commenting, please go to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here and read through everything: This should help answer your questions. We encourage and welcome comments…but we do have guidelines. Thanks again for asking…and we hope this helps.

        God bless you, Donna Ruth…and, again, to the book club!

      • Patricia

        I included several paragraphs that made excellent points that really clarified the balance of justice and mercy. It satisfied my mind about questions that I have when I hear conversations about Divine Mercy. When people say mercy is God’s greatest attribute, it seems to me that implies it is the attribute that stands out above all others. Yes, His mercy is infinite and given in measure responding to the greatest of sinners, if they will return to Him and not stay away from Him because they fear wrath or justice for their “great” sins. . But since God is perfect, His attributes operate “in ensemble” or all together, and one is not above the others. The author bases his work upon the work of Thomas Aqunias and guides us in the growth of the four Cardinal virtues, which is what the book club is reading about….how important it is that they are always in ensemble and working together in perfect harmony. It explains how God’s only son was sent to satisfy the justice part because of His great love and mercy for us. It discuss the point that society will turn to chaos if we only have mercy and not justice, which creates moral relativism, and which we see the disastrous results of in today’s culture, society and world. It is a great read, and worth the little extra time to check it out.

        • LizEst

          Yes, all God’s attributes operate together and are, in fact, one. But, mercy is God’s greatest attribute (an in-depth study of the Summa supports this statement). God could only show us his mercy by giving us free will, permitting humanity to use it (and allowing the fall), then redeeming us. There is a great course in the Avila Institute titled “Divine Mercy, Conversion and Suffering”. It is not being offered this coming semester. But, it will come around again and you might find that very worth your time. Yes, God is not without justice. And, we make a big mistake when we think He does not employ it. As well, as we read in Scripture, “Judgment [justice] is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

  • LizEst

    Thanks for the offer, but please do not send it. That banner does not contain the whole site. Once you get on the actual site itself–as you indicated–it is on every page.

  • Patricia

    God is perfect in all His attributes., so we don’t need to be concerned about how He functions, we just need to love and trust in His love and plan for us since we will never be able to know all God knows or possess His great attributes. The question was about how we must be just in our lives. I believe that is very true and I can see where the justice part is ignored by some in society and the ways of thinking are causing havoc in society. Will God have mercy on ISIS since they are killing in His name? We are not to judge others as far as their eternal life goes, but the world can see it is unjust because people’s religious rights are being violated. One thing all societies agree upon is that murder of innocent people us wrong. Mercy triumphs justice, but without justice there is no peace. We are called to be children of God as peacemakers; therefore we must be just!

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