Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Justice and Peace

Some thoughts based on current discussion of the participation of the Lay Provincial Council in the politics of the world.

Many seem unaware that to hunger and thirst for justice is to be consumed with the desire to render in act what is personally due, not to legislate for what are perceived "rights" of others. Now what is due from Dominicans to the world is the preaching of the word of God; from the acceptance of the word of God comes obedience to the will of God; and the act of obeying God's will is justice and from this comes peace, a foretaste in this world of that peace which passes all understanding in the next. To believe that peace can be obtained in the here and now, apart from God, is a fools errand; a false peace that can only be obtained by coercive force.

All men desire peace, but all men are not willing to end their war on God in order to obtain it. Prefering to place their own will above that of God, justice is perverted and peace will not be obtained.

Oddly upside down as the things of God often are to the world, to hunger and thirst for justice entails not only the overwhelming desire to do God's will, but a concommittant willingness to suffer injustice patiently united to our Lord. Perhaps this is what grates the most on the materialist spirit of the age.


  1. On point as usual. Thanks. As He said, that it is not the peace of the World that He gives, but His Peace. The Order of Preachers needs to preach again! Not issues involving worldly issues, but the religious principles, moral standards, and the practice of charity need to be preached. The Dominicans belong to the Order called to carry on that beautiful duty of God. John, OPL

  2. Preaching justice is inseparable from preaching the Gospel, as Montesino and the other Dominicans of Hispaniola knew.

    The trick for a Dominican, it seems to me, is to remember to preach. Political activity that derives from preaching is fine, potentially even obligatory, but it's no substitute for preaching Christ.

  3. Political activity that derives from preaching is remotely--at best--obligatory. The preacher should preach the Gospel, and there is the answer, in that people that hear the words of the preacher, charged in their hearts for the Gospel, will change the political landscape. The preachers understand the moral standards and the gospel, but in choosing politics usually do not understand politics and economics. Too often, especially today, preaching justice is political derived and not based upon religious, moral, or Gospel standards. As an example, to often, the clerical folk guided by good hearts and right motives may involve themselves in socialist activity, which can cause far greater harm than good at the economic level. Their activity creates a moral legitimacy for action, when combined with socialism can create economic plunder and truly end the poor from pulling themselves to high economic levels.

    It is time to preach the Gospel, to talk about the vital issues that will change society, but most importantly, to change people's hearts to see all people as their brothers and sisters in Christ. In this freedom, the Gospel will be alive and lived.

  4. And what if the heart that's changed is the preacher's? Las Casas, for example, realized he couldn't preach against the evils of slaveholding while he himself was a slaveholder.

    Moreover, in a tradition that can be traced through St. John the Baptist and Jeremiah to Samuel (at latest), political activity can itself be a form of preaching -- emphasis on "can." If anything, this is more true in a democracy.

    Nevertheless, Dominicans are to be preachers of Truth, not of prudential judgment, and that preacher fails who does not distinguish between the Truth he has been given by God and the consequences he has derived by personal judgment.

    Which is to say, even if socialism worked, Catholic Social Teaching would still need to be preached.

  5. It needs to be remembered that there is a difference between "preaching" and "teaching," and that difference is not inconsequential to an Order possessing the charism and responsibility to preach.

    Preaching has the goal of converting the non-believer, teaching has the goal of preserving to the end the converted believer. that is why I harp on this; Remember that in St. Dominic's day the Albigensians were the target of preaching, the truth of the faith was the tool. The social horrors committed by the Albigensians were a direct consequence of their abandonment of their historic Catholic faith, injustices abandoned when the faith is embraced. you can't really "preach" justice, because justice alone is not salvific.

    So, no, Catholic Social Teaching is not something to be preached, but is something to be taught; an important distinction.

    A Dominican stands and falls by his union with the charism of St. Dominic; a union which with all the saints put the salvation of the soul first and foremost.

  6. Las Casas, for example, realized he couldn't preach against the evils of slaveholding while he himself was a slaveholder.

    any more than a man can't speak against the evils of wage-slavery while having his own employees?

  7. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17.