Sic et non

Dear Reader,

I am reading the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which contains the following quote:

206. Love presupposes and transcends justice, which “must find its fulfilment in charity”[452]. If justice is “in itself suitable for ‘arbitration’ between people concerning the reciprocal distribution of objective goods in an equitable manner, love and only love (including that kindly love that we call ‘mercy’) is capable of restoring man to himself”[453]. Human relationships cannot be governed solely by the measure of justice: “The experience of the past and of our own time demonstrates that justice alone is not enough, that it can even lead to the negation and destruction of itself … It has been precisely historical experience that, among other things, has led to the formulation of the saying: summum ius, summa iniuria”[454]. In fact, “in every sphere of interpersonal relationships justice must, so to speak, becorrected to a considerable extent by that love which, as St. Paul proclaims, ‘is patient and kind’ or, in other words, possesses the characteristics of that merciful love which is so much of the essence of the Gospel and Christianity”[455].

A beautiful sic et non (“yes and no”) which preserves a truth that I believe is oft overlooked.

On one hand, one often only hears from the “peace and justice” crowd only those two terms – peace and justice.

But what is often forgotten is that both peace and justice are “fruits” or effects of the love of God and neighbor as a supernatural virtue; in turn, charity only comes about as a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The next paragraph makes that clear:

207. No legislation, no system of rules or negotiation will ever succeed in persuading men and peoples to live in unity, brotherhood and peace; no line of reasoning will ever be able to surpass the appeal of love. Only love, in its quality as “form of the virtues”[456], can animate and shape social interaction, moving it towards peace in the context of a world that is ever more complex.

One needs to remember, too, that no genuine love arises without true and equitable relationships. I can’t beat my wife and love her (or God) at the same time.

Throwing myself in front of a train for her, however, is not merely an act of justice. Insofar as my wife is a human being, she imposes certain general demands upon me and all mankind insofar as she deserves: freedom of conscience, life, basic needs, etc. But she doesn’t deserve sacrificial love, in the strictest sense. Nobody does.

“If it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:6).

It’s interesting, then, that true justice doesn’t really arise until the Triune God dwells in our hearts.

I believe in the free market with all my heart and mind.

But the every economist would agree, hands down, that the best kind of free market is one which is free from sin, death, and scarcity.

Economics can only produce well-distributed scarcity. Love of God, on the other hand, can produce

“the city [which] has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

Yours in Christ,

Br. James Dominic, OP

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