Rorate Caeli

In our life, justice and mercy should be united

Bl. Charles de Foucauld with
former slaves he had just ransomed
from captivity (1902)
Are traditional Catholics doing enough to help "the afflicted, the sick"? In the week marked by this Sunday of the Good Samaritan (12th Sunday after Pentecost), we offer the words of Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange on the subject:

There are other holy joys which the just man finds when, freed from evil, he seeks the good with his whole heart. The man of action, who allows himself to be carried away by pride, declares that happy is that man who lives and acts as he pleases, who is not subject to anyone, and who imposes his will on others. Christ says: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill." 

Justice, in the broad sense of the word, consists in rendering to God what is due Him, and then for the love of God giving also to the creature what is due him. In recompense, the Lord gives Himself to us. This is the perfect order, in perfect obedience that is inspired by love which enlarges the heart. Blessed are they who desire this justice, even to the extent of hungering and thirsting for it. In a certain sense, they will be filled even in this life by becoming more just and more holy. This is a blessed thirst, for Christ says: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." 

That we may keep this thirst when sensible enthusiasm falls away, and preserve this hunger and thirst for justice in the midst of contradictions, hindrances, and disillusions, we must receive with docility the inspirations of the gift of fortitude. This gift prevents us from weakening, from letting ourselves be disheartened, and it lifts up our courage in the midst of difficulties. St. Thomas says: "The Lord wishes to see us hunger and thirst for this justice to such an extent that we can never be satiated in this life, as the miser never has enough gold." These hungering souls "will be satiated only in the eternal vision, and on this earth in spiritual goods. . . . When men are in the state of sin, they do not experience this spiritual hunger: when they are free from all sin, then they experience it." 

In a Christian's action this hunger and thirst for justice should not be accompanied by a bitter zeal toward the guilty. Therefore Christ adds: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." In our life, as also in that of God, justice and mercy should be united. 

We cannot be perfect without going to the help of the afflicted, of the sick, as the good Samaritan did. The Lord will give the hundredfold to those who give a glass of water for love of Him, to those inviting to their table the poor, the crippled, the blind, who are mentioned in the parable of the guests. The Christian should be happier to give than to receive. He ought to pardon offenses, that is, to give to those who have offended him more than is due them; he ought to forget insults and, before offering his gift at the altar, go and be reconciled with his brother. The gift of counsel inclines us to mercy, makes us attentive to the sufferings of others, makes us find the true remedy, the word that consoles and uplifts.

If our activity were frequently inspired by these two virtues of justice and mercy and by the gifts corresponding to them, our souls would find even here on earth a holy joy and would be truly disposed to enter into the intimacy of God. 

Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. 
Les trois âges de la vie intérieure 


  1. Are we doing enough? In a word, 'no'. That's why in an earlier post I complimented Chris Ferrera for his work trying to save Terri Schiavo.

    By our works they will know us.

    As a lawyer, I was--I think--able to save one child in my work with Right to Life. I worked closely with a young family, and the father literally knocked on my door and told me I saved his child.

  2. I guess you don't realize how attached you've become to a created thing until you are separated from that thing. Each day I look, and no new posts on the Rorate Caeli blog.. Hope your respite is going well, and I eagerly await your return. Thank you for this post.

    Since Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange references the parable of the good Samaritan, which of course was take from the Gospel today for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, I offer one of my favorite books..

    "Divine Parables Explained" by Fr Joseph Prachensky..

    One of the best explanations of the parable of the good Samaritan I have read or heard.

    Here is the book free online:

    spoiler alert, it's not very ecumenical.

  3. Julia of Arc2:24 AM

    Very nice post. It reflects what I heard in church in this Sunday Gospel reading.The last two lines summarize the entire post!!

    Julia of Arc

  4. Rev. Paul Weinberger2:58 AM

    A recently issued visitor’s guide “The Abbey of Our Lady of Fontgombautl” includes on page 47 a mention of Blessed Charles de Foucald in connection with today’s date. As it is brief I offer it here: “Charles de Foucald was marked by three decisive moments in his life. The first was during a sermon by Father Huvelin, his spiritual director, in which he addressed Christ saying: “Thou hast so insisted on taking the last place that no one has ever been able to take it from Thee”. Then while holidaying with his Bondy cousins not far from Fontgombault, he visited the abbey on August 19, 1888. His cousin tells how impressed he had been by a lay-brother he met that day: he interpreted the poverty of the monk’s darned and patched habit as a call inviting him, too, to imitate Christ’s own extreme poverty. Lastly, a journey to the Holy Land confirmed his conviction. He joined the Trappists at Notre-Dame des Neiges in 1890 and took the name, Brother Marie-Alberic, possibly in recollection of the Abbot of Fontgombault, Dom Alberic, whom he had met during his visit. Later he chose to become a hermit....

  5. At my Dallas, Texas, parish, people have approached me from time to time to ask for money.

    During 105 degree (Farenheit) days this summer, I have been asked for money by persons who claimed that they were broke and consigned to living in their cars, which had run out of gasoline.

    The word from the Chancery (as is printed in our parish bulletins) is to refrain from dispensing cash to people who approach us at the parish.

    We are requested to refer needy people to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

    Is that the correct approach to take when we encounter people who ask for food and/or money?


  6. This is beautiful. Fr. Garrigou-Legrange is my favorite theologian after Saint Thomas Aquinas himself. He has a way of putting Thomistic thought in a manner easy to grasp without losing the reality of his topic. Any cheers for Father being made a Doctor of the Church? Is this a "santo subito" moment?

    In any case, it is great Father explains we need to love God first and from there it gives us the impetus to care for the poor in its fullest form. The liberal thinking is that it's all merely just taking care of the poor which saves one's soul. I get this message over and over from the parish.

  7. Anonymous7:05 AM

    Who better to bring closer to Christ than the sick and afflicted? Instead of letting the liberal "social justice" types ruin it by making it look like the needs of the body are the only things that matter, go "Traditional" by feeding both body AND soul. St. Vincent de Paul and his spiritual daughter St. Catherine Laboure are good examples, as was Blessed Charles de Foucald.

    One of the best works of mercy is to admonish sinners. You can start with me.

  8. Thanks for the kind words, Ken.

    Tenkai, true enough; however, sometimes people need just some kind of material help, and we still should provide it, and let God deal with the broken soul, as is His job... We should not allow our concern for someone's soul prevent us from doing "merely" corporal works of mercy, that can be the most difficult of works (and I think many good Catholics have used that kind of "spiritual excuse" in order to do nothing). More in a future post.

  9. Tom @4:28
    The answer to your question may be given by St Peter in Didache: Give to everyone that asks thee, and do not refuse, for the Father's will is that we give to all from the gifts we have received. Blessed is he that gives according to the mandate; for he is innocent; but he who receives it without need shall be tried as to why he took and for what, and being in prison he shall be examined as to his deeds, and "he shall not come out thence until he pay the last farthing"
    You may give just a penny to aggresive beggar, btw donation to to St Vincent Society could do some good, maybe there is a programm for reforming addicts.

  10. I look forward to this parable every year as new facets emerge almost each time.

    The Christian concepts of justice and mercy dig much deeper than just giving to the poor although this is a worthy cause distributed with discernment. In the Gospel of The Good Samaritan we also have to consider those who are antipathetic in different ways to the Saviour we espouse: people for whom Our Blessed Lady has identified as those who have no one to pray for their souls.

    The enemies of The Church need our prayers and witness in various direct and indirect forms for without it where is the hope in their lives? When Christ refered to the poor, the lame, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the metaphor is emphasised. Those who do not embrace The Gospel and have Faith in Him are lost to eternity. They are disable spiritually. In this parable the priest and the Levite demonstrate this signification very well.

    In the church today such is its condition, we are surrounded by those who have the knowledge but not the understanding; who think ignorantly they know Christ but yet do not; who have taken a direct path of opposition to orthodoxy in bringing about a personalised gospel of their own making and those who have given up the struggle since nothing appears to make much material sense in our contemporary church.

    The enemy within and without need the charity of those who are truly friends of Our Blessed Lord. This demands availability, commitment and loving obedience to God's Will. What a challenge this is. It is only in Jesus Christ Our Lord that true justice and mercy have met. As we learn in the lives of the saints of The Church, it is only through Him that such courageous and endless acts are possible.

  11. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.--Matthew 7:20

    This is good for all of us Traditionalists to remember!

  12. NIANTIC1:30 PM

    LeonG: Thank you for your beautifully expressed comment! Pax Christi to you and everyone!

  13. Wonderful meditation.

    I will take this to heart.


  14. Thanks for this post. I recently finished Dorothy Day's journal--"The Duty of Delight". I suggest it to those who want to see how corporal works of mercy flow from a heart in love with Christ.

    Although I don't see how pacifism is in harmony with Faith or reason, she was a devout, Eucharistic soul, and her devotion to helping the poor was heroic.

    At times she gets caught up in the euphoria of the post-VII generation, but she never, it seems to me, lost her supernatural vision, how a living Faith is intimately linked to the virtue of charity, how our actions must be an expression of interior life, the in-dwelling of the Holy Trinity.

  15. Regarding people who ask for money: We only give what they need, such as water or food. It is remarkable how often those people will turn down the basics.

    Thank you Fr. Weinberger for your comment!

  16. @Tom:

    Regarding people who ask for money: We only give what they need, such as water or food. It is remarkable how often those people will turn down the basics.

    Thank you Fr. Weinberger for your comment!

  17. Questioner11:30 AM

    This looks like an opportune time to ask people for their recommendations. I find myself unable and unwilling to contribute either to Catholic Charities nor Catholic Relief SErvices any more.

    What traditional-oriented Catholic organizations can folks here recommend as worthy of receiving donations for material relief of the destitute?


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