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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.

"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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"Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."
Thomas á Kempis

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