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21. The Mercy and Justice of God

1. Justice is the virtue which gives to every being all that belongs to it. There is a type of justice called commutative, which is the justice of give-and-take; it is exampled in a trade in which neither party cheats the other. There can be no commutative justice in God, for there is no exchange of goods between him and creatures; all good in creatures comes from God. There is another type of justice, called distributive, which consists in the bestowal of good according to the needs of the receiver. This type of justice is in God "who gives to all existing things whatever is proper to the condition of each one".

2. Sometimes God's justice is called truth inasmuch as it meets the known needs of creatures; for truth belongs to knowing.

3. In bestowing good on creatures, God manifests his goodness. In meeting the needs of creatures, he manifests his justice. In bestowing all that is useful, God manifests his liberality. And in giving what counteracts miseries and defects, God shows his mercy.

4. In all the works of God, justice and mercy are manifest. Justice and mercy are pure perfections; they are in God eminently as identified with his essence. In creating, God removes the misery of non-existence; this is mercy. In supplying all that his creatures require, God manifests justice. In making abundant supply of things required, God removes the misery of narrow circumstances; this again is mercy.

"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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