Choose a topic from Part 2B:

108. Vengeance

1. Vengeance is the inflicting of corrective punishment onan offender. We speak of vengeance here, not as an inordinatedesire for revenge, which is always sinful, but as a virtuesubordinate to justice. Vengeance is the virtue which restores theequality of justice upset by an offense. The perfect and permanentestablishment of equality of justice will be attained at the end oftime, for God says (Heb. 10:30): "Vengeance is mine; I willrepay."

2. Among men, vengeance as a virtue seeks to remove harmdone and to prevent its recurrence. It stems from justice, and mustbe suffused with charity. The parent who punishes a disobedientchild exercises vengeance as a virtue; so does a judge in courtimposing a suitable penalty. A person sins by excess whenhe administers vengeance with cruelty or brutality; he sins bydeficiency when he is remiss to administer correctives thatshould be administered.

3. True vengeance always tends to the prevention of evil.Persons who will not be moved by positive virtue to preserve theequality of justice, must be prevented from doing evil by fear oflosing what they love. Now, the things a man loves most in thisworld are: his life; his bodily safety and comfort; his freedom;his possessions; his country; and, his good name. Hence, civil lawsexact vengeance by prescribing for offenders: death, bodilypunishment, imprisonment, fines, exile and ignominy. Under fear ofsuch evils, many who would offend are constrained to observejustice. And those who are subjected to the vengeance of the law,are taught themselves, or teach others by what they undergo, thatevils are not to be done.

4. No one justly suffers vengeance save as a punishmentfor sinful offense. Hence, vengeance never afflicts those whoseoffense is involuntary, and therefore not sinful. Hardship, indeed,may come heavily upon a person without fault on his part; suchhardship is, under God's providence, always medicinal, and hasin view the greater good or higher merit of him who suffers it. Andin matters spiritual, no one is ever punished without fault. Amongmen, certain hardships are sometimes inflicted (such, for instance,as disqualification for an office because of a parent's fault),and indeed public order sometimes requires such things. But thesehardships are not really the effects of vengeance at all.

"The Lord has always revealed to mortals the treasures of his wisdom and his spirit, but now that the face of evil bares itself more and more, so does the Lord bare his treasures more."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"A man should keep himself down, and not busy himself in mirabilibus super se."
St Philip Neri

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