Jacques Maritain Center : Catechism of the Summa Theologica


What is the last kind of sins which are committed against commutative justice?

They are those sins whereby our neighbour is induced to agree to things that are prejudicial to him (LXXVII., Prologue).

What are these sins called?

Theyare called fraud and usury (LXXVII., LXXVIII.).


What is fraud?

It is an act of injustice, which is committed in buying and selling whereby our neighbour is deceived and is led to will what is to his loss (LXXVII.).

In how many ways can one commit the sin of fraud?

This sin may be committed: by reason of the price which is more than the thing is worth; by reason of the thing sold in so far as it is not what it appears to be, the seller knowing this and the buyer ignoring it; by reason of the seller who conceals a defect in the object sold; and by reason of the end in view (LXXVII. 1-4.).

Is it never permitted knowingly to sell a thing for more than it is worth or to buy a thing for less than it is worth?

No, for the price of a thing bought or sold must always correspond to the worth of the thing itself; to ask more or to give less knowingly is of itself essentially unjust, and obliges to restitution (LXXVII. 1).

Is it against justice to sell a thing for what it is not, or to buy a thing which is other than what the seller believes it to be?

Yes, to sell or to buy a thing which is other than it appears to be, whether there be question of its substance, or its quantity or quality, is contrary to justice, and is a sin if one do this knowingly; moreover, one is bound to make restitution. Further, this obligation of making restitution exists even when there has been no sin, as soon as ever one discovers the disproportion between the price and the thing sold or bought (LXXVII. 2).

Is the seller always bound to bring to the notice of the buyer the defects of his wares in so far as he knows them?

Yes, he is bound to do this whenever the defects are hidden, and might be a cause of danger or loss to the buyer (LXXVII. 3).

Is it allowable to take up buying and selling as a form of trade for the sake of gaining money?

Trading for the sake of trading is a shameful thing and contrary to justice; because of itself it promotes the love of lucre, which knows no limits, but seeks to acquire without end (LXXVII. 4).

What then is necessary that trading may become licit and honest?

Lucre should not be sought after for its own sake but for some good end. In this way one may seek a moderate gain by trading in order to maintain one's household, or to give help to the needy, or one may do this for the public benefit to the end that one's fellow-men may not lack the things necessary for daily life, and one may seek such gain not as an end in itself but as the recompense for one's work (LXXVII. 4).


What is usury?

Usury is an act of injustice which consists in taking advantage of the need of our neighbour by lending him money, or any other thing that has a money value (whose only use is the consumption thereof which is destined to meet present necessities), and in return obliging him to give back the money or the thing lent by a fixed date with an addition as the price of the use (LXXVIII. 1, 2, 3).

Is usury the same thing as lending out at interest?

No; for although all usury is lending out at interest, all lending out at interest is not usury.

In what does lending out at interest differ from usury?

It differs from usury in so far as money is considered as productive, by reason of the social and economic circumstances in which we live to-day.

What is necessary in order that lending out at interest may be allowable and may not run the risk of becoming usury?

Two things are necessary: first, the amount of interest charged must not exceed the legal charge, or the charge fixed by reasonable custom; and second, those who are well off should not be exacting towards the poor who have need of borrowing, not in order to trade in money but with the object of immediate consumption and the succouring of their needs.


In speaking of the virtue of justice, apart from its divers species, may not one consider the elements which constitute the virtue, just in the same way as was said of prudence?

Yes; and these elements are none other than what are described as doing good and avoiding evil (LXXIX. 1).

Why are these two elements proper to the virtue of justice?

Because in the other moral virtues, as, for instance, in fortitude and temperance, not to do evil is identified with to do good; whereas in the virtue of justice, to do good consists in so acting that fairness in the relations between us and our neighbour be maintained; and not to do evil consists in avoiding anything which upsets the justness of these relations (LXXIX. 1).

What is that sin called which is contrary to "doing good?"

It is called the sin of omission (LXXIX. 3).

And what is that sin called which is opposed to "avoiding evil"?

It is called the sin of transgression (LXXIX. z).

Of these two sins which is the more grave?

Considered in itself the graver sin is that of transgression; although a particular kind of omission may be more grave than a particular kind of transgression. For instance, it is more grave to insult someone than not to pay him the respect due to him; but if it be question of a high superior, to be lacking in due respect to him by not paying him the homage that such respect demands, particularly in public, would be more grave than a slight sign of contempt for, or a resentful word that may wound, a person in a lower scale of society (LXXXIX. 4).


Are there also certain virtues that refer to justice and are, as it were, parts attaching thereto?

Yes (LXXX. 1).

In what are these other virtues distinct from justice properly so-called?

They are distinct in this, that the object of justice properly so-called is to render to another exactly what is his due; whereas the object of these other virtues, although having reference to one's neighbour (and this they have in common with justice) is: to give to another something which is not due to him strictly but in a wide sense only, but such as could be exacted in the name of the law before a tribunal; or only to give a thing which is strictly due in a way that falls short of the strict justness demanded (LXXX. 1).

How many virtues attach to justice, and what are the

There are nine, and they are religion, filial respect, reverence, gratitude, retributive justice, truth, friendship, liberality, and natural equity (LXXX. 1).

Is it possible to justify the above order among these virtues?

Yes, in this wise. The first eight refer to particular justice, the ninth to general or legal justice. Of the first eight, three -- religion, filial respect, and reverence -- have something in common, for they are outside the domain of strict justice, not because there is no debt to be paid, but because of the impossibility of attaining justness in the acquittance of the debt: religion with regard to God, filial respect with regard to parents and one's country, reverence with regard to the good and to those in high places. The other five virtues are defective on the part of the debt; for they do not refer to something which is legally due to another, such as could be exacted in justice before a tribunal, but only to something which is morally due, the payment of which is left to the good will of each; such payment is, however, necessary for the well-being of human life and the harmony of the relations between men, either necessarily as truthfulness, gratitude, and retributive justice, or for the betterment of human relations as friendship and liberality (LXXX. 1).


What is the virtue of religion?

The virtue of religion (so-called because it constitutes the bond par excellence which unites man to God, who is the source of all man's good) is a perfection of the will inclining man to acknowledge as it behoves his absolute dependence upon God, who is the first beginning and last end of all (LXXXI. 1-5).

What are the acts of religion?

Every act which, of itself, makes man recognize his dependence upon God is the proper object of the virtue of religion. But this virtue also may ordain to this same end all the acts of the other virtues; and in this case it makes the whole of man's life an act of the worship of God (LXXXI. 7, 8).

In the latter case what is it called?

It is called sanctity. For the saint is precisely he whose whole life is transformed into an act of religion (LXXXI. 8).

Is the virtue of religion most excellent?

Yes, for after the theological virtues it is the most excellent of all the virtues (LXXXI. 6).

Whence does the virtue of religion derive this excellence?

It comes from this, that among all the moral virtues whose object is to perfect man in every order of conscious activity in his striving after heaven, such as faith, hope, and charity, there is no other virtue whose object approaches so nigh to this end. The other virtues direct man, either in regard to his own conduct or in regard to other creatures, whilst religion directs him towards God: it effects that he look to God, as it behoves, by recognizing His Sovereign Majesty, serving and honouring Him by his acts as the one whose excellence infinitely surpasses every created thing (LXXXI. 6).



What is the first act of religion?

It is that interior act which is called devotion (LXXXII. 1, 2).

What is devotion?

Devotion is a certain movement of the will whereby it gives itself and all dependent on it to the service of God, and this always and with a holy zeal (LXXXII. 1, 2).

After devotion, what is man's first act in the service of God?

It is the act of prayer.


What is prayer?

Prayer, understood in its widest sense and in so far as it is addressed to God, is an act of the practical reason by which, under the form of supplication, we desire to lead God to grant what we ask (LXXXIII. 1).

But is this a reasonable thing?

Yes, of a truth it is; for there is nothing more reasonable and more in harmony with our nature than to do this (LXXXIII. 2).

How can this be shown?

By the following considerations: since we are by nature rational beings, we have need of considering in the greatest degree what God is and what we are. But we are filled with miseries; and He is the source of all good. The more intimately we know then our own misery in all its details, and that God only is capable of succouring our needs, the more we shall come to know what we ought to be, that is to know what our very nature has need of; and this is precisely what prayer effects. It is, moreover, the more perfect when it makes us the more conscious of our misery and of the goodness of God, which is the remedy of that misery. It is for this reason that God in His mercy wishes us to pray, and He has even determined that certain boons shall not be conferred upon us unless we ask Him for them (LXXXIII. 2).

It is then God's will that we are fulfilling when we endeavour by prayer to lead Him to grant what we ask?

Yes, it is God's will that we should do this; that is of course whenever what we ask of Him is for our own true good.


Does God always hear our prayers then?

Yes, God always hears our prayers when we ask of Him, under the very impulse of the Holy Ghost, what is for our true good (LXXXIII. 15).

Is there a form of prayer whereby we may be assured of asking always for what is for our good?

Yes, there is a form of prayer par excellence of this kind which is called the "Our Father" or the Lord's Prayer (LXXXIII. 9).

What is meant by the words: the Lord's Prayer?

It is that prayer which was taught us by Jesus Christ Himself in the Gospel.

What are the words of this prayer?

The following: Our Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; Forgive us our offences as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil. Amen.


Does this prayer contain all the requests we may ask and ought to ask of God?

Yes; for whatever we ask of God can be reduced to one or other of the petitions expressed in the "Our Father," provided, of course, that our request is for some good (LXXXIII. 9).

Has this prayer any other excellence which is proper to it alone?

Yes; and this excellence consists in this, that this prayer puts upon our lips in the very order that they should be in our hearts, all the desires that ought to be ours (LXXXIII. 9).

Can this order of the petitions in the "Our Father" be shown?

Yes, in a few words thus. Of all our desires the first must be that God should be glorified, since the glory of God is the end of all things; and in order that we ourselves might co-operate in the best way towards this glory, we must desire to be admitted one day to a participation of that glory in heaven. Such is the sense of the first two petitions of the Our Father when we say: "Hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come." This glorification of God in Himself and of us in Him will one day be the final term of our life. On earth and during the present life we have to strive to be admitted to the glory of God in heaven. To attain this end there is only one thing to be done: to accomplish in all things the will of God as perfectly as possible. And this we ask when we say: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." But in order to fulfil the will of God in the most perfect way possible, we have need of God's life to strengthen our weakness whether as regards temporal needs or spiritual. We ask for this help when we say: "Give us this day our daily bread." This indeed would be sufficient were it not necessary to avoid or get rid of evil which can be an obstacle either as regards our attainment of the Kingdom of God, or the accomplishment of His will, or the sufficiency of things of which we have need in the present life. Against this threefold evil we say: " Forgive us our offences as we forgive them that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil" (LXXXIII. 9).

Why do we say at the beginning of this prayer: "Our Father, who art in heaven"?

We say these words in order that we may inspire our hearts with the liveliest confidence,, since He to whom we address our prayer is our Father whose kingdom is heaven itself (LXXXIII. 9, Obj. 5).

Ought we to recite the "Our Father "frequently?

We should live continually in its spirit, reciting it from time to time, and indeed as often as we can according as the conditions of our life permit (LXXXIII. 54).

No matter what our condition of life be, is it not the least we can do to recite this prayer once every day?

Yes, this is the only fitting thing to do.


Should we address our prayers to God only?

Yes, to God alone must we pray, from whom all good things come; but we may also pray to certain creatures that they may intercede for us before God (LXXXIII. 4).

To what creatures may we pray for such end?

To the angels and saints in heaven; and the good who are still on earth (LXXXIII. 11).

Is it good to recommend oneself to the prayers of souls that are saintly?

Yes, it is an excellent thing to do this.


Of all creatures is there not one in particular to whom we should have recourse in our prayers?

Yes, and this one is Mary, ever a virgin and the Mother of the incarnate Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

What name has been given to our Blessed Lady by reason of the special mission she has of interceding for us?

She has been called the All-Powerful.

What is meant by these words?

By these words is meant that all those for whom she has interceded before God have been heard by Him in their prayers.

Is there any special form of prayer for soliciting our Blessed Lady to intercede for us before God?

Yes, it is called the "Hail Mary."

What are the words of this prayer?

The following: Hail Mary, full of grace; The Lord is with Thee; Blessed art Thou among women; And blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, Now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

When is it a good thing to recite this prayer?

It is a good thing to recite it as often as possible, and especially to recite it after saying the" Our Father."


Is there any excellent manner of prayer in which these prayers are united together?

Yes, in that form of prayer known as the Rosary.

What is the Rosary?

It is a prayer which consists in bringing to mind the fifteen mysteries of our redemption, and of reciting with the memory of each mystery the "Our Father" followed by ten "Hail Marys," after which is added: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."



After the internal acts of devotion and prayer, what are the other acts of the virtue of religion?

They are all those external acts which, of themselves, are directed to the honouring of God (LXXXIV.-XCI.).

What are these acts?

They are, first of all, certain movements of the body, such as the inclination of the head, genuflexion, and prostration, and all those acts which are comprised under the general name of adoration (LXXXIV.).

In what does the excellence of these acts consist?

It consists in this, that even the body is made to contribute towards the honouring of God; and when these acts are performed in a fitting manner they help much towards the better performance of the internal acts (LXXXI V. 2).

Is it only the body we should make use of to honour God in the virtue of religion?

No, for there are also certain things we can offer to God in homage under the form of sacrifice or of pious contribution (LXXXV.-LXXXVII.).


Is there in the New Law oniy one kind of sacrifice, understood in its strict sense, which implies the immolation of a victim?

Yes, it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which is immolated under the sacramental species of bread and wine He who since His sacrifice on the Cross is the only victim offered to God, and the only one that is agreeable to Him (LXXX. 4).

Is it an act of religion pleasing to God to contribute according to one's means towards the upkeep of His external worship by giving the wherewithal for the maintenance of its ministers?

Yes, this is an act of religion and is especially pleasing to God (LXXXVI.-LXXXVII.).


Is it only thus in giving to God for the upkeep of His worship and His ministers that one performs an act of religion?

No, for one can also perform an act of religion by promising to God something which of its nature is pleasing to Him (LXXXVIII.).

What is such a promise called?

It is called the vow (LXXXIII. 1, 2).

If one makes a vow is one obliged to keep it?

Yes, if one makes a vow one is bound to keep it except in the case of impossibility or dispensation (LXXXIII. 3, 10).


Is there any other kind of acts of religion?

Yes; there are those acts performed in order to honour God by using something that touches God Himself (LXXXIX.).

What are those things touching God which we can utilize for His honour and homage?

They are holy things; and also the holy name of God.

What is understood by holy things?

By holy things is meant whatsoever has received from God through the medium of His Church some consecration or particular blessing: as, for instance, persons consecrated to God; the sacraments; and the sacramentals, such as holy water or objects of piety; and also places of worship (LXXXIX., Prologue).


In what way may one use the Holy Name of God as a homage rendered to Him?

One may use the Holy Name of God for this purpose by calling it as witness to the truth of what one says, or by invoking it in praise (LXXXIX.-XCI.).

If one calls on the Holy Name as witness to the truth of what one says or of what one promises, what is this invocation called?

It is called the oath (LXXXIX. 1).

Is an oath a good thing in itself, and to be commended?

The oath is good only when grave necessity demands it; and it should be used with extreme reserve (LXXXIX. 2).

And to adjure or to swear, what is that?

To adjure or to swear is an act which consists in calling on the name of God or upon some holy thing in order to induce someone to act or not to act in the way we wish (XC. 1).

Is this act allowable?

Yes, provided it be done with respect and according to the condition of those whom we adjure (ibid.).

Is it good to invoke often the name of God?

Yes, provided one do this with the greatest respect and in the form of praise (XCI. 1).



What are the sins opposed to the virtue of religion?

They are of two kinds: those of excess, which come under the name of superstition; and those of defect, which are comprised under the name of irreligion (XCII., Prologue).

What is meant by superstition?

By superstition is understood that complexity of sins which consists in paying worship to God such as cannot be pleasing to Him; or to pay to things other than God the worship that belongs to Him alone (XCII., XCIII., XCIV.).

Is there not some form of the latter which is particularly prevalent?

Yes, it is the inordinate desire to learn the future or to bring to light things that are hidden, which effects the giving up of oneself to the manifold kinds of divination, or to what are called superstitious practices (XCV., XCVI.).


What does the sin of irreligion comprise?

It comprises two things: the fact of not treating with due respect things that belong to the service and worship of God; or the fact of abstaining altogether from acts of religion.

Is the last sin particularly grave?

Yes, it is of extreme gravity, because it implies contempt or the scornful disregard of Him whom we are bound in the strictest sense to honour and to serve.

Under what special form does the latter exist at the present day?

Under the form of what may be called secularism.

What is understood by secularism?

It is that system in which God is put out of one's life completely: whether in a positive manner, in getting rid of Him in every way and in persecuting both Him and everything that has to do with Him; or in a negative way, in taking no account of Him at all in our life, individual, domestic, or social.

Whence arises this sin of secularism both in its positive and negative form?

In its positive form it arises from hatred or from some fanatic sectarianism; in its negative form it arises from a sort of intellectual and moral obtuseness, particularly with regard to the supernatural order.

Ought one to combat secularism with all one's strength?

There is no more pressing duty than to do this by all the means in one's power.


What are the other sins of irreligion?

They are to tempt God and perjury, which are committed against God Himself and His Holy Name; also sacrilege and simony, which are committed against things holy (XC VII.-XCIX.).

What is understood by tempting God?

It is that sin against the virtue of religion which consists in want of respect towards God in making appeal to His intervention; or to make appeal to Him in circumstances that forbid His intervention (XCVII. 1).

Is it tempting God to count upon some special help from Him when one does not do oneself all that is possible to be done?

Yes, to do this is to tempt God; and this one should avoid with the utmost care (XCVII. 1, 2).


What is understood by perjury?

By this is understood a sin against the virtue of religion that consists in calling on God to witness a thing that is false, or calling on God as witness to a promise which we do not fulfil (XCVIII. 1).


Is it also a sin, akin to perjury, to call on God by the invocation of His Holy Name at every turn?

Yes, for although this is not properly speaking perjury, it shows a great lack of respect towards the Holy Name of God; and such disrespect one must scrupulously avoid.


What is sacrilege?

Sacrilege is the violation of person, thing, or place consecrated to God, which are dedicated to His service and worship (XCIX. 1).

Is sacrilege a great sin?

Yes, it is a great sin; for to touch things that belong to God is in some sort to touch God Himself; and even on this earth God sometimes severely punishes this sin (XCIX. 2-4).


What is simony?

Simony is a sin of irreligion which consists in imitating the impiousness of Simon the Magician by offering insult to things holy in treating them as ordinary material things, of which men dispose as though they belonged to them, and which they buy or sell for a sum of money (C. 1).

Is simony a great sin?

Yes, and the Church punishes this sin with the most severe penalties (C. 6).


After the virtue of religion, which is the greatest of the other virtues relating to the virtue of justice?

It is the virtue of filial respect (CI.).

What is filial respect?

It is that virtue whose object is to give to parents and to the fatherland the honour and the respect that is due to them; and this because of the existence that, together with all the benefits thereto attached, they have bestowed upon us (CI. 1-3).

Are these duties towards our parents and country particularly sacred?

Yes, after our duties towards God there are none more sacred than these (CI. 1).

What are the duties of filial respect towards our parents?

They are: always respect and deference; obedience when living under their authority; and assisting them in case of need (CI. 2).

What are the duties of filial respect towards one's country?

They are respect and reverence towards those who represent it; obedience to its laws; and one's service even to the sacrifice of one's life in the case of just war against enemies.


Is there any virtue other than the virtues of religion and filial respect which demands obedience?

Yes, it is the virtue of reverence towards superiors (CII.).

What is understood by this reverence?

By reverence is understood that virtue whose object it is to regulate the relations of inferiors with regard to superiors, which is over and above the reverence due to God, to parents, and to authorities representing our country (CII., CIII.).

Is it the virtue of reverence which safeguards the right relations between pupil and master, between apprentice and master, and, in short, between all inferiors and superiors?

Yes (CIII. 3).

Does reverence always imply the virtue of obedience?

No, except when it is a question of superiors having authority over inferiors.

Is there any order of superiority beside the orders that imply authority over inferiors?

Yes, as, for instance, a superiority in talent, in riches, in age, in virtue, and so forth (CIII. 2).

Do all these orders lend themselves to the practice of the virtue of reverence?

Yes, for this virtue effects that man pays to every kind of superiority the honour due to it; and he does this in such order that first of all he pays honour to superiors that are in authority (ibid.).

Is this important for the good of society?

Yes, it is most important, for every society implies a certain multiplicity and in some sort a certain subordination, and every subordinate should practise the virtue of reverence, without which the harmony of the relations between men is impossible.

Is it possible for everybody without exception to practise the virtue of reverence?

Yes, for there is no one, in whatsoever order he himself may be superior, that is not in some other order inferior to some other person (CIII. 2, Obj. 3).


What is the first of the other virtues annexed to justice that has for its object, not indeed a strict debt that it is impossible to acquit fully, but a certain debt of the moral order such as one is able to pay, and the payment of which is necessarily ordained to the well-being of society?

It is the virtue of gratitude (CVI.).

What is the rôle of this virtue?

The rôle of this virtue is to make us recognize rightly as it behoves, and to give payment as it were in return for, all the boons we have received from another (CVI. 1).

Is this an important virtue?

Yes, for the opposite sin, which is ingratitude, is extremely odious and well merits reproof from all (CVII.).

In gratitude ought one to strive to give in return even more than one has received?

Yes, so as to imitate oneself the goodness of a benefactor (CVI. 6).


From the point of view of virtue can anything be done against evildoers?

Yes, there is a special virtue called retributive justice, whose office it is to see that an evildoer does not go unpunished whenever justice demands such retribution (CVIII.).



What other virtue of the same order is necessary (not indeed for the sake of others precisely, but for the sake of him who acts) for the well-being of society?

It is the virtue of truthfulness (CIX.).

What is meant by truthfulness?

By this is meant that virtue which inclines us to manifest ourselves in all things both in words and in deeds, such as we really are (CIX. 1-4).

What are the sins opposed to this virtue?

They are lying, pretence, and hypocrisy (CX.-CXIII.).

What is lying?

It is the fact of speaking or of acting in such wise that knowingly one expresses or signifies what is not (CX. 1).

Is it evil to do this?

Yes, for it is essentially bad, and under no pretext whatsoever can it become good (CX. 3).

But is one always bound in word and deed to say or to signify what is the truth?

No, one is not always bound to say or to signify what is the truth; but one may never knowingly say or signify what is not the truth (CX. 3).


How many kinds of lies are there?

There are three kinds: the jocose lie, the officious, and the pernicious (CX. 2).

In what are these three distinguished?

In this: the jocose lie is told for amusement's sake; the officious lie in order to help another; and the pernicious lie in order to do another harm (ibid.).

Is the last kind of lie the worst of all?

Yes; for whereas the first two kinds may be only venial sins, the third is of itself always a mortal sin, unless the injury done is only slight (CX. 4).

What is understood by pretence and hypocrisy?

Pretence consists in showing oneself externally in one's life what one is not interiorly; and hypocrisy is pretending to be holy when one is not (CXI. 1, 2).

Is one bound, so as not to commit these sins, to show forth exteriorly the bad that is in one?

In no wise; on the contrary, it is a duty to let nothing that is bad in us appear externally so as to avoid harming oneself in the opinion of others, or so as to avoid disedification and scandal. What the virtue of truthfulness demands is that we let nothing appear externally, whether good or bad, which does not correspond to our inner life (CXI. 3,4).

Is one bound by the virtue of truthfulness to abstain from word or deed which might lend itself to a false interpretation?

No; one would not be bound to do this except in the case when such false interpretation might cause some evil which it is our duty to prevent (CXI. 1).

Is it possible to commit the sins of lying, pretence, and hypocrisy in several ways so that they constitute sins that are specifically distinct?

Yes; one can sin by exceeding the truth, and this is called boasting; or by deficiency, that is in falling short of the truth, when, for instance, a person makes out that he is lacking in some good which he really has, and this sin is called the belittling of oneself unduly (CXII., CXIII.).


Is there any other debt that binds only morally, the acquittance of which helps in a great degree towards the welfare of society, although not with the same rigour as that of gratitude, retributive justice, and truthfulness?

Yes; and this is the debt of friendship (CXIV. 2).

What is friendship?

It is that virtue which makes man endeavour by the whole of his exterior, both in word and deed, to treat his fellow-beings as it behoves in order to bring mutual pleasantness and charm to their lives (CXIV. 1).

Is this a virtue of great price?

Yes, this is a social virtue of great worth; and it might fittingly be called the flower of the virtues of justice and of charity.

In what way is it possible to sin against this virtue?

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 (CXV.-CXVI.).



What is the last virtue relating to particular justice that acquits a debt, such as binds only morally, as regards the relations between men?

The last virtue is that of liberality (CXVII. 5).

What is liberality?

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 (CXVII. 1-4.).

Is this a great virtue?

If one considers the immediate object of this virtue, which is riches, it is the least of the virtues; but considered in its consequences it is lifted up to the perfection of the others, for liberality is able to help and sustain each of the other virtues (CXVII. 6).


What are the sins opposed to this virtue?

They are avarice and prodigality (CXVIII.-CXIX.).

What is avarice?

Avarice is the inordinate love of riches (CXVIII. 1, 2).

Is this a grave sin?

If one considers this sin as regards its object, namely, money, it is the least of sins, for it vitiates man's love with regard to exterior goods only, namely, riches; but 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 (CXVIII. 4, 5).

Is this sin particularly dangerous?

Yes, 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 (CXVIII. 5).

Is avarice a capital sin?

Yes, it is one of the capital sins, because it carries with it one of the conditions necessary for happiness which everyone desires, namely, the abundance of goods to which everything is subservient (CXVIII. 7).

What are the daughters of avarice?

They are hardness of heart which knows no pity, disquietude, violence, deceit, perjury, fraud, and treachery; for the inordinate love of riches may lead to excess: as regards the effort to retain them; or as regards the effort to acquire them: on the part of the desire to have riches; or on the part of the endeavour to obtain them: by violence, or by guile: or in words expressed under oath or otherwise; or by deed: as regards things; and as regards persons (CXVIII. 8).


Is prodigality, which is the other sin opposed to liberality, also opposed to avarice?

Yes; for 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 (CXIX. 1, 2)

Of these two sins which is the more grave?

Avarice, because it is more opposed to the virtue of liberality, which gives rather than retains (CXIX. 3).


Is it possible by a consideration of their objects to sum up and to show the order between the virtues that are related to particular justice?

Yes, in a few words thus. In the first place comes religion, which refers to God as regards the service and worship due to Him by reason of His being the Creator and Lord of all things; then comes filial respect, which refers to parents and country to whom we owe our life and benefits; then reverence, which refers to superiors in authority, dignity, and excellence in no matter what order this be; then gratitude, which refers to benefactors; then retributive justice with regard to evildoers or those who do us harm, who merit the punishment meted out to them; and lastly come truthfulness, friendship, and liberality, which we owe to all for our own sakes.


Is there not also a virtue annexed to legal justice?

Yes, it is that virtue which may be called natural equity or fairness, and which also goes under the name of epikeia (CXX.).

What is the rôle of this virtue?

Its rôle is to incline the will to seek justice in all things and in all orders, as it were, outside of and above the established laws among men, whenever the natural reason in virtue of its very first principles shows that in a given case the established laws cannot and should not be applied (CXX. 1).

Is this a virtue of great worth?

In the order of justice and indeed among all the virtues which regulate man's relations with his neighbour, this virtue is the most important, dominating all in some sort and aiding them towards the betterment of the social good as regards its very essentials (CXX. 2).


Which is the gift of the Holy Ghost which corresponds to the virtue of justice?

It is the gift of piety (CXXXI.).

In what does the gift of piety exactly consist?

It consists in an habitual disposition of the will which makes man ready to receive the direct and personal action of the Holy Ghost, inclining him to treat God, considered in the highest mysteries of His divine life, as a Father tenderly and filially revered, served, and obeyed; and to treat all men in the way the divine and supernatural good demands which unites all to God as to the Father of one great divine family (CXXI. 1).

Must one say that the gift of piety is as it were the seal that sanctifies the relations that should exist between men, and between them and God?

Yes, the gift of piety is as it were the seal of this sanctification; it is the crowning of the virtue of justice and of all the virtues thereto annexed; and if by means of this gift everyone corresponded perfectly to the impulses of the Holy Spirit, men's life on earth would be the life of a divine family, and as it were a foretaste of the life of the blessed in heaven.



Are there any precepts that relate to the virtue of justice and the virtues thereto annexed together with the gift of piety which crowns them?

Yes; they are the precepts of the Decalogue (CXXII. 1).

Do the precepts of the Decalogue relate only to these virtues?

Yes; for those precepts which relate to other virtues are of later origin and are determinations or unfoldings of the former precepts (CXXII. 1).

Why is this so?

This is so because the precepts of the Decalogue, in so far as they are the first precepts of the moral law, should refer to what for all and at first sight manifestly has the nature of a thing that is due; and further, this perception of a thing as due should include relations towards others such as the virtue of justice with its virtues annexed demand (ibid.).


How are the precepts of the Decalogue divided?

They are divided into two parts, which are called the two tables of the law.

What do the precepts of the first table comprise?

They comprise the first three precepts relating to the virtue of religion which regulates man's dealings with God.

What order is there between these three precepts?

The order among them is of such sort that the first two put aside the two principal obstacles to the worship of God, viz., superstition or the worship of false gods, and irreligion or the lack of respect towards the true God; then the third precept determines positively the worship of the true God (CXXII. 2,3).

What does the third precept of the Decalogue comprise?

It comprises two things: abstaining from servile works; and the occupying oneself with the things of God (CXXII. 4, Obj. 3).

What is meant by abstaining from servile works?

By this is meant the obligation of putting aside for one day in the week (which is now Sunday) and on days of obligation (which are for the entire Church the feast of Christmas, the Circumcision, the Epiphany, the Ascension, Corpus Christi, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the feast of St. Joseph, of St. Peter and St. Paul, and All Saints) manual work which is not necessary for the maintenance or welfare of our material life, or which urgent necessity does not demand (CXXII. 3, Obj. 3; Code, 1247).

And what does the occupying ourselves with the things of God comprise?

It comprises in a most express way and under penalty of grave sin, the obligation to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays and on the feast days above mentioned (CXXII. 3, Obj. 4).

If one is unable to assist at Mass on the above days is one bound to perform some exercise of piety?

One is not bound to any exercise of piety that is in any way determined; but one would be certainly wanting in the positive obligation of keeping holy the above days if one let them go by without any act of religion at all.


What do the precepts of the second table comprise?

They comprise the precepts relative to the virtue of filial respect towards parents and to the virtue of strict justice towards our neighbour whoever he may be (CXXII. 5, 6).



What is the virtue that comes after justice and holds the third place among the cardinal virtues?

It is the virtue of fortitude (CXXIII.-CXL.).

What is fortitude?

It is that perfection in the moral order of the sensitive appetite whose object is to make man hold firm in the presence of the greatest fear, or to keep within bounds the most daring boldness as regards peril of death that presents itself in the course of just war, in order that man might never fail in his duty (CXXIII. 1-6).


Is there any special act of this virtue in which all its excellence is shown forth?

Yes, it is martyrdom (CXXIV.).

What is martyrdom?

It is that act of the virtue of fortitude which sustains man in accepting death in testimony of the truth from the hands of those who persecute the name of Christian and all that pertains thereto (CXXIV. 1-5).


What are the sins opposed to the virtue of fortitude?

They are, on the one hand, fear, which lacks courage in the presence of dangers of death, or insensibility to fear in the presence of peril, which is the lack of shunning peril when one ought to; and on the other hand, rashness which rushes towards danger imprudently (CXXV.-CXXVII.).

Can then one sin by excess of bravery?

One never sins by excess of bravery; but one may, under the impulse of excessive courage which is unrestrained by reason, be so carried away as to perform acts that are not really acts of true courage, but have only the semblance of bravery (CXXVII. 1, Obj. 2).



Are there any virtues relating to the virtue of fortitude in that they imitate the act or manner of acting of this virtue, but in matters of less difficulty?

Yes, and they are, on the one hand, magnanimity and I magnificence; and on the other, patience and perseverance (CXXVIII.).

In what are these two kinds of virtue distinguished?

In this, that the two first relate to fortitude by reason of an act which attacks what is most difficult and arduous; whereas the two others relate thereto by reason of an act which stands firm in presence of the greatest fear (CXXVIII.).

What is the proper object of magnanimity?

It is to strengthen one's soul in its effort to accomplish great acts in so far as great honours or great glory result therefrom (CXXIX. 1, 2).

Everything then that pertains to magnanimity is great?

Yes, all is great in this virtue; and it is the virtue par excellence of great souls.


Are there any sins opposed to this virtue?

Yes, there are a number of sins which are opposed thereto either by excess or defect.

What are the sins opposed to magnanimity by excess?

They are presumption, ambition, and vainglory (CXXX.-CXXXII.).

How are these different sins distinguished from each other?

In this, that presumption inclines one to the performance of acts that are too much for one's capabilities; ambition seeks honours greater than one deserves; and vainglory seeks some glory that has either no object, or that has an object of little worth, or which is not directed to the one true end which is the honour of God and the welfare of men (ibid.).

Is vainglory a capital sin?

Yes, for it implies the showing off of one's own excellence which one seeks in everything, and which may lead one to commit all manner of sins (CXXXII. 4).

What are the daughters of vainglory?

They are boasting, hypocrisy, stubbornness, discord, strife, and disobedience (CXXXII. 5).


What sin is opposed to magnanimity by defect?

It is the sin of pusillanimity (CXXXIII.).

Why is pusillanimity a sin?

Because it is contrary to the natural law which inclines every being to act according to its capabilities (CXXXIII. 1).

It is then indeed blameworthy not to make use of the powers and the means God has given us by the mistrust of oneself, or by taking up an unseemly attitude with regard to honours and glory?

Yes, this is indeed blameworthy and should not be confounded with true humility, about which we shall speak later (ibid.).


In what does the virtue of magnificence consist?

It consists in a disposition of the sensitive appetite, which strengthens the soul in its effort to fulfil what is arduous as regards the expenses demanded by the undertaking of great works (CXXXIV. 1, 2).

Does this virtue presuppose great riches and great opportunities of dispensing them for the public welfare?

Yes, this virtue presupposes great riches and the opportunity to dispense them, especially as regards the worship of God or the public welfare of a city or state (CXXXIV. 3).

Is it then a virtue belonging, properly speaking, to the rich and the great?


What are the sins opposed to this virtue?

The sin of stinginess, which makes man begrudge and be unwilling to give even what is necessary for the undertaking of some work; and the sin of extravagance, which inclines one to expend unreasonably over and above what is necessary for some work undertaken (CXXXV. I, 2).

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