Virtues Associated With Justice – Part 8 of 8

Father Pegues concludes his exposition of the nine virtues associated with the moral virtue of justice. Here he discusses friendship and liberality.

The virtue of friendship “makes man endeavour by the whole of his exterior, both in word and deed, to treat his fellow-beings as it behooves in order to bring mutual pleasantness and charm to their lives.” Friendship “helps in a great degree towards the welfare of society, although not with the same rigour as that of gratitude, retributive justice, and truthfulness.”

It is possible to sin against the virtue of friendship in two ways: “by defect, in troubling ourselves little or not at all with what may bring pleasure or annoyance to others; or by excess, and this is the sin of flattery, which fails in disapproving externally the words or deeds of those with whom we live that deserve reproval.”

The virtue of liberality is “a disposition of soul which effects that man is attached to external goods only in such ordered measure as ever to be ready to give them and especially to give money for the well-being of others.”

Sins opposed to liberality are avarice and prodigality. “Avarice is the inordinate love of riches. . . . If one considers the disproportion between the soul, which is spiritual, and riches, to which it is inordinately attached, it is the most degrading of all sins; since therein the soul subjects itself to what is beneath it.” It is a dangerous capital sin because “there is no end to this inordinate love of riches; for to gain riches one may be induced to commit all sorts of crime against God, one’s neighbour, and oneself.” The inordinate love of riches may lead to excesses in the acquisition or retention of riches, such as by means of violence, guile, words expressed under oath, or by deeds. Thus, the “daughters of avarice” are “hardness of heart which knows no pity, disquietude, violence, deceit, perjury, fraud, and treachery.”

“Whereas avarice exceeds in the love of riches without being drawn to make good use of them by giving to others, prodigality does not properly estimate riches and distributes them with too ready a hand.” Avarice is the graver sin because “it is more opposed to the virtue of liberality, which gives rather than retains.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

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