Recent Posts

Friday, 8 March 2013

Part 71: DoC: St. Ambrose and Justice--"the charm of human fellowship"

I cannot do justice, to make a pun, on Ambrose' excellent work on the four cardinal virtues. A tiny bit on his discussion of justice will wrap up his part in this perfection series. The next person to be considered will be St. Jerome.

Ambrose has a very interesting section on justice as regards marriage. Here is a snippet, plus more.

That man was made for the sake of man we find stated also in the books of Moses, when the Lord says: It is not good that man should be alone, let us make him an help meet for him. Genesis 2:18 Thus the woman was given to the man to help him. She should bear him children, that one man might always be a help to another. Again, before the woman was formed, it was said of Adam: There was not found an help-meet for him. Genesis 2:20 For one man could not have proper help but from another. Amongst all the living creatures, therefore, there was none meet for him, or, to put it plainly, none to be his helper. Hence a woman was looked for to help him.

That God is Just is one reason why He created Eve for Adam and Adam for Eve. One of the aspects of justice is that we are here for each other and not merely for ourselves.

God saw, of course, that man needed help in the perfection to which he was called. In other words, Man is made perfect with Woman. How wonderful that justice determines this relationship.

God created Man to compliment Woman and Woman to compliment Man. 

This is justice at work. Love is found in the mutual aid and support given each to each.

Meditate on this great mystery. This is more than mere sexual compatibility; it is spiritual wholeness.

135. Thus, in accordance with the will of God and the union of nature, we ought to be of mutual help one to the other, and to vie with each other in doing duties, to lay all our advantages as it were before all, and (to use the words of Scripture) to bring help one to the other from a feeling of devotion or of duty, by giving money, or by doing something, at any rate in some way or other; so that the charm of human fellowship may ever grow sweeter among us, and none may ever be recalled from their duty by the fear of danger, but rather account all things, whether good or evil, as their own concern. Thus holy Moses feared not to undertake terrible wars for his people's sake, nor was he afraid of the arms of the mightiest kings, nor yet was he frightened at the savagery of barbarian nations. He put on one side the thought of his own safety so as to give freedom to the people.

Ambrose gives us a profound example of justice in Moses. His willingness to go against the pagans in order to fulfill God's Plan for taking His People into the Holy Land. This is the great mystery, to use this word again, of the conquest of Canaan. People, including each one of us, need a place to be holy.

We need a holy land ourselves. Men need to conquer that land, to make safe havens for their wives and children. This was the reason for governments, for monarchies, for democracies.

Moses, in cooperation with God, made a slave people into a nation.

This is just. It is proper that we all have a God-space.

As Catholics, our space is the Church, and God's Justice is that all men are saved through the merits of the Catholic Church. 

136. Great, then, is the glory of justice; for she, existing rather for the good of others than of self, is an aid to the bonds of union and fellowship among us. She holds so high a place that she has all things laid under her authority, and further can bring help to others and supply money; nor does she refuse her services, but even undergoes dangers for others.

This is one reason why the Catholic Church condemns socialism. Governments are only as just as the individuals who create them. Justice must be a virtue found in the souls and hearts, intellects and wills of individuals, who carry out justice.

Can one imagine a beautiful society in which marriage, families, individuals all created by God, are protected in justice? Justice brings together citizens and binds them with a common vision of self-giving.

This is the true society and it is found in the Church.

137. Who would not gladly climb and hold the heights of this virtue, were it not that greed weakens and lessens the power of such a virtue? For as long as we want to add to our possessions and to heap up money, to take into our possession fresh lands, and to be the richest of all, we have cast aside the form of justice and have lost the blessing of kindness towards all. How can he be just that tries to take from another what he wants for himself?

The destroyers of justice are greed, narcissism, selfishness, hatred, strife, contentious spirits, consumerism, covetousness. unreasonable desires, idolatry, envy, jealousy and so on. These sins destroy an individual and a nation. All these things destroy Christian communities as well, which is tragic.

138. The desire to gain power also enervates the perfect strength and beauty of justice. For how can he, who attempts to bring others under his own power, come forward on behalf of others? And how can a man help the weak against the strong, when he himself aspires to great power at the cost of liberty?

Justice is beautiful as an attribute of God. Humility is the key to justice.

Without the abdication of power, there is no justice.

In this past month, we have had a great example of justice in the resignation of the Pope.

This is the last entry on Ambrose. I am sorry to leave him. The links are for you all to read more.

Next, I shall concentrate on St. Jerome.