Natural Law


God writes His Name/Law on the Soul of every Man at Conception. Reason and Conscience are the God within us in the Natural Order

 

"For Man has in his Heart a Law inscribed by God"

Infused/Innate Knowledge -
"Synderesis"/"First Principles"

print.jpe (13461 bytes) God writes His Name on the Soul of every man at Conception. Reason and Conscience are the God within us in the Natural Order. The Fathers of the Early Church were wont to speak of the Wisdom of Plato and Aristotle as the 'unconscious' Christ within us. Men are like so many Books issuing from the Divine Press, and if nothing else be written on them, at least the Name of the Author is indissolubly engraved on the Title Page. God is like the 'Watermark on Paper', which may be written over without ever being obscured.

 

The Catholic Church has no proprietary ownership of Natural Law

Natural Law is available to all, can be claimed by all, and is "owned" by all

Natural Law is the expression of the "Rule of Reason"

Reason does not create Natural Law, any more that Man creates himself;
Reason discovers Natural Law which God writes on our Heart at Conception

Natural Laws are immediately evident to the Human Intellect when that Intellect is acting Rationally

Our own 1776 American Revolution was Wholly based on the Natural Law: "We hold these truths to be Self Evident, that all Men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That, to Secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men . . ."


Click to enlarge

 

Natural Law

from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Natural Order

Body/Inferior Will/
Psychosomatic Powers
Passions/Emotions/
Sensory Appetite/
Memory/Imagination
(Subordinate-Partner)

Soul/Intellect/
Superior Will/
Reason/Mind/
Infused Knowledge/
Heart/Conscience
(Dominant Partner)

Romans 2:15 - the demands of the Law are written on their Heart, while their Conscience bears witness

 

According to Saint Thomas, the Natural Law is "nothing else than the Rational Creature's participation in the Eternal Law" (Prima Secundae Partis 94). The Eternal Law is God's Wisdom, inasmuch as it is the Directive Norm of all Movement and Action. When God Willed to give Existence to Creatures, He Willed to Ordain and Direct them to an End. In the case of Inanimate Things, this Divine Direction is provided for in the Nature which God has given to each; in them Determinism reigns. Like all the rest of creation, Man is destined by God to an End, and receives from Him a Direction towards this End. This Ordination is of a character in harmony with his Free Intelligent Nature. In virtue of his Intelligence and Free Will, Man is Master of his Conduct. Unlike the things of the mere Material World he can vary his Action, Act, or Abstain from Action, as he pleases. Yet he is not a Lawless Being in an Ordered Universe. In the very Constitution of his Nature, he too has a Law laid down for him, reflecting that Ordination and Direction of All Things, which is the Eternal Law. The Rule, then, which God has Prescribed for our Conduct, is found in our Nature itself. Those Actions which conform with its Tendencies, lead to our Destined End, and are thereby constituted Right and Morally Good; those at Variance with our Nature are Wrong and Immoral.

The Norm, however, of Conduct is not some particular element or aspect of our Nature. The Standard is our whole Human Nature with its manifold relationships, considered as a Creature destined to a Special End. Actions are Wrong if, though sub-serving the Satisfaction of some particular Need or Tendency, they are at the same time Incompatible with that Rational Harmonious Subordination of the Lower to the Higher, which Reason should maintain among our Conflicting Tendencies and Desires. For example, to nourish our Bodies is Right; but to indulge our Appetite for food to the Detriment of our Corporal or Spiritual Life is Wrong. Self-preservation is Right, but to refuse to Expose our life when the Well-Being of Society requires it, is Wrong. It is Wrong to drink to Intoxication, for, besides being Injurious to health, such indulgence deprives one of the use of Reason, which is intended by God to be the Guide and Dictator of Conduct. Theft is Wrong, because it Subverts the basis of Social Life; and Man's Nature requires for its proper development that he live in a State of Society. There is, then, a Double Reason for calling this Law of Conduct 'Natural': First, because it is set up concretely in our very Nature itself, and Second, because it is manifested to us by the purely Natural Medium of Reason. In both respects it is distinguished from the Divine Positive Law, which contains Precepts not arising from the Nature of things as God has constituted them by the Creative Act, but from the Arbitrary Will of God. This Law we learn not through the Unaided Operation of Reason, but through the Light of Supernatural Revelation.

 

Hierarchy of Laws

Law

Known by

Divine Positive Law/
Eternal Law/Revealed Law
Light of Supernatural Revelation/
Word of God - Jesus Christ
Divine Natural Law Man's Operation of Reason
Human Positive Law Human Laws of Society

 

Definition of Revealed Law
(from the Modern Catholic Dictionary)

Supernatural Laws/
Divine Graces

Human Soul

Soul/Intelligence/
Superior Will/Reason
Mind/Intellect
Infused Knowledge/
Understanding
Heart/Conscience

Within the Essence of the Soul resides the Supernatural Laws/Divine Graces consisting of Sanctifying Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mortal Sin destroys these Divine Graces.

Also called Divine Positive Law, it is the Sum Total of all the Prescriptions that God has Communicated to the Human Race by way of Supernatural Revelation. It is, therefore, Revealed Law as distinct from the Knowledge of God's Will, attainable by Human Reason alone.

Humankind needs a Revealed Law in addition to the Divine Natural Law because the Secondary Precepts of the Natural Law can be obscured by Evil Passion, Bad Custom, and the Allurement of Sinful Example. Another and Higher Reason why God Revealed His Will Supernaturally, is that He has elevated Human Nature to a Higher-than-Natural Destiny. This Heavenly Destiny cannot be attained without the Observance of correspondingly Supernatural Laws, which are in the Character of Divine Graces with which Human Beings must Co-operate in order to reach the Beatific Vision.

Three (3) Periods may be distinguished in the History of God's Revealed Will:

from the Dawn of Creation to the time of Moses;
the Mosiac Period, which spans the whole history of Ancient Israel;
and in New Testament time from the coming of Christ to the end of the Apostolic Age.

 

judgement_sm.jpg (15515 bytes)

Final Judgment Triptych (Central) - by Hans MEMLING -
from Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk . . . .


 

 


by Dr. Theresa Farnan
Faculty, Mount Saint Mary's Seminary