From the Master of Kadosh (December 2018)

posted Dec 29, 2018, 11:10 AM by San Jose Scottish Rite

Fraternal greetings!  This is a special time of year when we have several family-based holidays including Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s celebration.  It is the time for the transition from Fall to Winter.  It is a time of endings and new beginnings.  It is a time of reflection and setting new hopes for the next year.  I wish you all a happy and safe holiday season and look forward to everyone coming back to the Scottish Rite renewed and refreshed in the new year!

Justice and Charity

Out of the Seven Virtues of Fortitude, Temperance, Prudence, Justice, Faith, Hope, and Charity, two of the virtues have stuck out in my mind as being problematic for me to understand in the past.  Those virtues are Justice and Charity.  I have given significant thought on these two virtues as well as read numerous books to try and clarify my understanding of the two areas.

First let’s consider the word Justice.  In our modern world, and in modern English, when I hear the word Justice it evokes thoughts about the justice system, ensuring people pay for their crimes, and judgement.  As such, when thinking about how to embody the virtue of Justice, it was met in my mind with a bit of resistance, as I wasn’t sure how this was a virtue one would want to aspire to.  Not that the judicial system is a negative concept in our society but being judgmental isn’t something most spiritual traditions uphold.  As such, in thinking and studying the word Justice, I’ve learned that Justice is the opposite of Prejudice, and that it means to treat all people equally.  This means we need to treat everyone we meet with the same level of esteem and respect.  Justice is the opposite of Prejudice, as prejudice is based on calling out differences in people and treating people according to our likes and dislikes about their traits and differences.  Therefore, if we are to truly realize God’s kingdom in earth as it is in heaven, we need to recognize God’s spark or essence in every being and know that we are all equal irrespective of any outward appearances or character traits that we might dislike.  This is what is embodied in the concept of Justice, as it relates to the word as a virtue.

 Next is Charity.  Often times the word Charity in our modern culture evokes thoughts of giving alms to others or organizations to assist poor and distressed people.  While this is no doubt an honorable and valuable act to engage in, it is not necessarily the true intent of the word Charity, as spelled out in the Seven Virtues and in Masonic Ritual.  In many works, including Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy, the meaning of the word Charity is Love.  Love is an overloaded term in the English dialect which represents many different emotional and other virtuous concepts.  Charity is the type of Love that is God’s love.  Charity is the highest virtue in the Seven Virtues and is the quality that we all must possess in demonstrating God’s love in our works. It is selfless love and given without an expectation of something in return.  It is through God’s love and grace, as embodied in the word Charity that enables us to transmute our sin and negativity into enlightenment and positivity.

So coupling the term Justice with Charity, we need to show the highest form of God’s love to everyone we encounter equally in order to truly practice these aspects of the Seven Virtues.