Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

What Can A Just Man Do?

After the tragedy and unrest in Minnesota yesterday, I was driven to contemplate what could be done, what is needed, what could be offered to promote true, lasting peace in my home state?  Justice is desired, truth is required, but beauty might save world.  I aspire to live justly, more justly, and I had to offer something, however meager.  So here goes.

First, an attempt at offering something which may be found beautiful; springtime brings natural beauty, yet weeds will grow.  "The tempo of [reading this poem], ..., should be brisk. It must neither drag nor sound hurried. Serenity combined with energy is required."  Gregorian Chant Volume II, Justine Ward, 1949 (original context: for psalmody).

Distraught by news of violence, anger, and cloudy skies,

What can I do?  What might I offer?  I am not wise.

Pricked by conscience, past things read, and connecting now with old,

My wedding ring cleaned, there, now more cleanly I see the gold:

A true promise of total, free, fruitful, faithful commitment.


Only those who promise to forgive, fed by forgiveness, can long live.

From the unchanging Father, every best gift, in His Mercy, we can give.

Else no hope have they to stay in peace, for we all fall yet fail in love,

And though it stirs us up, the anger of man does not work out the justice of God above.


Shall I let this sleep? Should I give it a slumber, turning back to my work?

Twin topics;  Folding my hands will bring want upon me, and poverty like a man armed.

I'll put my hands back to the plow that pays, after all, we have a baby still with the stork.

Yet for these reasons, the work of public peace must not be left undone, as it is presently quite harmed.


Second, a few Proverbs from the Douay-Rheims (DR) that could be found, here to help me feebly strain to perceive something in this mess that I must call my hometown.

The thoughts of the just are judgments: and the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. (12:5)

The substance of a rich man is the city of his strength: the fear of the poor is their poverty.  The work of the just is unto life: but the fruit of the wicked, unto sin. (10:15-16)

But see here:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

the just run to it and are safe.

The wealth of the rich is their strong city;

they fancy it a high wall. (18:10-11, NABRE translation)

Before destruction, the heart of a man is exalted:

and before he be glorified, it is humbled. 

He that answereth before he heareth sheweth himself to be a fool, and worthy of confusion. (DR 18:12-13)

First, I must hear and hunger to humble my heart or I will be laid low and worthy of the responding, wreaking waves of confusion.  After a moment, I summon courage and saunter on, watching my steps as best I can but I choose to walk onward so I trust my footing and strike out, thinking.  It is the just who are safe, though the rich fancy themselves well guarded.  Yet, the name of the Lord does not preclude trouble, but 'only' saves one from utter ruin.  This does bring peace, yes, it does.  But it leaves one humbled.  Splendid; good.  More to be done here than I can accomplish, perhaps the Risen Lord will direct me further.  St. Thomas More, how did you keep focus?  St. Joseph Most Just, pray for us!  Our Lady Our Mother, pray for us humble sinners with work to do, prayers to be said, and good works aplenty.


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