Divine Worship, Charity, and Justice
1. “Divine Worship.” We
have a strict duty to honour and obey God. “I, the Lord, am your God,”
He tells us in the first commandment of the Decalogue. “You shall not
have other gods besides me.” We are obliged, therefore, to worship God
both internally and externally, since both soul and body are created by
God. Internal worship is especially necessary, for without it external
worship would be an empty formality. It is useless to kneel before the
altar, to assist at sacred rites, and to recite vocal prayers, if all
the time our minds are elsewhere and we are lacking in the love of God.
Spiritual adoration and prayer are more important than the bowed head
and the bended knee.
It would be a grave error, however, to
imagine that internal adoration is sufficient and that there is no need
to assemble in the church, to observe feast days, or to participate in
sacred rites and receive the Sacraments as the Church commands.
Everything should be subject to God. The Church was founded by Christ
and endowed by Him with the authority to lay down the exact manner in
which we should pay homage to Almighty God. She has the right to dictate
the feasts and ceremonies in which we are obliged to participate.
Anyone who refuses to obey the Church is guilty of disobedience to God.
“He who hears you, hears me,” said Jesus Christ to His Apostles and
through them to their successors, “and he who rejects you, rejects me. “
How do we adore God? Are we among those who pray
with their lips and not from the heart? Or do we believe that private
devotion is quite sufficient and that there is no need to subject
ourselves to all the laws of the Church? In either case we should have
gone astray and should be unable to gain God’s favour.
“Charity.” “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and
God in him. (1 John 4:16) Charity is the fundamental rule of the Gospel;
if a man has no charity, he is not a Christian. Charity is two-fold,
consisting in the love of God and the love of our neighbour. One cannot
exist without the other. Jesus calls this His own commandment, on which
His entire law depends.
Charity is the leaven of Christianity
which sanctifies everything. Consequently, divine worship without
charity is both absurd and offensive to God.
“If thou art
offering thy gift at the altar,” Jesus tells us, “and there rememberest
that thy brother has anything against thee, leave thy gift before the
altar and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and
offer thy gift.” (Mt. 5:23-24)Worship is valueless without charity,
which must take precedence. If we do not love God and our neighbour, it
is useless to perform outward acts of adoration.
Charity without justice has no proper foundation and cannot be genuine.
Charity is the perfection and the complement of justice. “Love,” as St.
Paul says, “is the fulfilment of the Law.” (Rom. 13:10)
impossible to love God and our neighbour sincerely unless we are first
prepared to give to everyone whatever rightly belongs to him.
prefers justice and charity to external worship. “Woe to you
Pharisees!” said Jesus Christ, “because you pay tithes on mint and rue
and every herb, and disregard justice and the love of God. (Luke 11:42)
It is obvious from this that if we wish to observe the divine law we
must first of all be just and charitable. Justice is particularly
necessary, for it is absurd to claim that we love our neighbour as
ourselves if we are unwilling to give to our fellow-men whatever is his
by right. Therefore they are not sincere Christians who make a show of
being charitable and giving alms but fail to meet all the demands of
justice, including those of social justice. Let us examine ourselves
carefully and, if we find that we are guilty of any kind of injustice,
let us make up for it as soon as possible.