Religious Viewpoints

Fr. Scott Traynor

Fr. Scott Traynor


It is a word we have seen and heard a lot during these past twelve months.

A desire for justice spontaneously leaps up in the human heart when we are confronted with the images and reality of such a patently unjust and evil act as the Sept. 11 attacks.

As a nation and as individuals, we desire that justice be brought to bear on the malicious cowards who orchestrated such a brutal attack on innocent civilians.

It is a sign of the greatness and nobility of our country when in public and private discourse justice is carefully distinguished from mere vengeance or retaliation.

We are wary of imitating what we despise and adopting a response that reduces our great dignity?a defeat more bitter than any terrorist act could accomplish. We have learned this year that justice is hard work. It is also a virtue.

Justice is numbered among the four cardinal virtues in classic Christian moral philosophy. The others are prudence, temperance and fortitude.

These virtues “are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1804)

The virtuous person practices the good with greater ease, freedom and joy, pursuing and choosing the good in concrete actions with all his sensory and spiritual powers.

The virtue of justice cannot stand in a vacuum, but depends on its friends to accomplish its aim. The cardinal virtues are indeed timeless virtues for our times.

Let’s take a look.

Justice is the constant and firm will to give what is due to God and neighbor.

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.

Fortitude ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in pursuit of the good, enabling one to conquer fear in the face of trial and persecution.

Temperance provides balance in the use of created goods, ensuring the will’s mastery over instincts and keeping desires within the limits of what is honorable.

Together, the exercise of these virtues ennobles our common humanity, enhancing our fundamental dignity.

As men and women of faith, we do well to pray for justice’s accomplishment on this sad anniversary.

Let us also pray for our political and military leaders, that they will be blessed with the virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice in the weighty decisions they face each day.

God bless America.

Fr. Scott Traynor is the priest at the SDSU Catholic Campus Parish in the Newman Center. He can be e-mailed at [email protected].