Cardinal Moral Virtues – Part 2 of 3

Father Geiermann continues his discussion of the moral virtues by elaborating upon the cardinal virtue of justice and upon the virtue of religion, which is a type of justice.

Justice is the virtue which renders to every one his due. It is very comprehensive in its application, as it defines our duties to God, our neighbor, and ourselves. Justice is the great moral virtue of a good will. ‘We love justice’ remarks St. Augustine, ‘in proportion as we hate iniquity.'”

Father Geiermann suggests the following rules of conduct for the practice of justice: “(1) do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you; (2) pay your honest debts to God and man; (3) be honorable in all your actions; (4) redeem your promise; (5) injure no one; repair an unintentional wrong; (6) promote the welfare of others; (7) be humble, modest, and charitable.”

The virtue of religion is a type of justice. Father Geiermann explains: “Man’s principal obligation to God is religion. As a virtue religion consists in honoring God as the supreme Lord and Master. Some of the acts of religion are internal, others external. The principal external act of religion is to worship God through the adorable sacrifice of the Mass. The principal internal acts of religion are prayer and devotion.”

“As an act devotion is a pious inclination of the will to God; as a habit it is promptitude in His service. Devotion results on the one hand from a stimulation of the affections by meditating on the teaching of faith, on the other hand from the allurement of God’s grace.”

“There is a substantial and an accidental part to be considered in devotion. The substantial part is intrinsic and arises from our meditation on the infinite goodness, love, and mercy of God towards us, who are so unworthy of Him. Accidental devotion results from the allurement of grace, and consists in a pious affection, which sweetens all our hardships in God’s service. Sometimes this accidental devotion becomes so intense that it affects the nervous system and manifests itself exteriorly by tears and the like; it is then called sensible devotion. God gives this sensible devotion as a rule in the beginning of our conversion to encourage us in His service.”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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