For Chaplains

The Virtue That Attracts

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Father Jonathan D. Kalisch, O.P.
Director of Chaplains and Spiritual Development

 

What is the debt brother Knights owe each other? Justice is the cardinal virtue of giving what is due to others. Because the debt owed others is not always fixed or certain, St. Thomas Aquinas enunciated the concept of moral debt. Moral debt refers to the goods and resources that belong to one, but are owed to others. Thus, religion, piety, respect, gratitude and patriotism are potential parts of the virtue of justice, with a moral indebtedness to the source from which favors have been derived. Truthfulness, liberality and friendliness are likewise potential parts of justice derived from a moral indebtedness to the natural order of relationships in society. 

As members of a fraternal order, we are no doubt aware of the necessity of truthfulness, friendship and liberality for the preservation of decorum, harmony and work for the common good. Truthfulness demands that a brother Knight communicate reality to others just as it is. Liberality orders man’s inner attitude toward his particular talents for mutual enrichment. Friendliness concerns his public interactions, using candor in words and civility in deeds. 

A closer look at the virtue of friendliness or affability reveals just how vital it is for upbuilding fraternity and presenting the Gospel in a way that attracts. Affability responds to the debt of equity a brother Knight owes in the order of mutual relations to those he comes in contact with: as simple as acting in a pleasant, becoming and joyful manner in one’s outward deeds and words. While one is not required to become friends with everyone, the virtue of friendliness implies that man does owe a certain decency toward those he comes in contact with. Since Aristotle saw friendship as “the love of another as if he were one’s very self,” he thought it could only exist among equals. Aquinas, however, elevates the possibilities of friendship in light of Christ: Not only are men called to share in the social bond of friendship as Christians and brother Knights, but they are called to become friends with God.

The affability of moral justice ensures that regardless of the situation, the respect and politeness owed to another’s dignity is given. It combats the undeserved praise of flattery and the disagreeable trait of rudeness. There is no one more irritating than a quarrelsome person who has no hesitancy about being disagreeable, contradictory or nasty. Friendliness serves the common good by promoting general agreeableness among strangers and preventing the havoc of quarreling from being unleashed. 

If our brother Knights go around sour-faced, rude or without the desire to actively engage newcomers, their charity ceases to evangelize and a countersign is given to those they meet. Affability, on the other hand, allows for a certain joy and delight to be taken in greeting one’s brothers and neighbors. This delight can only occur when one is neither threatened nor fearful. Friendliness serves to put even strangers at ease, strengthening the common bond, as brother Knights recognize their shared affinities, interests and common commitment to the spread of the Gospel. As we seek to draw others to a deeper commitment of discipleship, may the virtue of friendliness and affability assist us in living the Gospel of Joy.

Vivat Jesus!

Fr. Jonathan D. Kalisch, O.P.
Director of Chaplains and Spiritual Development
FrJon.Kalisch@kofc.org
(203) 752-4115