Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Universal Ethic-Perception of Moral Values 4-Roads Towards a Reconciliation

3.4. Roads Towards a Reconciliation

76. To give the notion of natural law all its meaning and all its force as a foundation of a universal ethic, it is necessary to turn, with a view of wisdom, to an ordering properly metaphysical, capable of embracing simultaneously God, the cosmos, and the human person so as to reconcile them in a unity of analogy of being, thanks to the idea of creation as participation.

77. It is above all essential to develop a non-competitive ideal of the articulation between the divine causality and the free activity of the human subject. The human subject realizes himself by freely becoming part the providential action of God, and not in opposition to it. He should discover with reason and then assume and be lead freely toward the realization and deep dynamisms that define nature. In fact, human nature is defined by all the ensembles of dynamisms, of tendencies, of internal orientations in which freedom is born. In fact, freedom supposes that the human will is “put under tension” by the natural desire of good and the last end. Free will exercises itself then in the choice of the finite objects which agrees with the reaching of such end. In the relationship with these goods, which exercise an attraction that is not determining, the person preserves his mastery of his very choice on account of his innate openness to the absolute Good. Freedom is not therefore an absolute self-creator of itself, but an eminent property of every human subject.

78. A philosophy of nature that considers the intelligible depth of the sensed world and, above all, a metaphysics of creation serves then to overcome the dualist and Gnostic temptation of abandoning nature’s moral significance. From such point of view, it is necessary to overcome the limiting vision that the dominant technical culture leads one to have against nature, so as to rediscover the moral message of which nature is the bearer as a work of the Logos.

79. Nevertheless, the rehabilitation of nature and of bodiliness (corporeity) in ethics should not be equated to a “physicalism” of any kind. In fact, some presentations of the natural law seriously negate the necessary integration of the natural inclinations in the unity of the person. In neglecting to consider the unity of the human person, these absolutize the natural inclinations of the different "parts" of the human nature, approaching them without hierarchization and failing to integrate them in the unity of the global plans of the subject. Now, as John Paul II explains it, “natural inclinations take on moral relevance only insofar as they refer to the human person and his authentic fulfillment.”(73) Today, therefore, it is necessary to keep in mind together two truths. On the one hand, the human subject is not a union or juxtapositions of natural diverse and autonomous inclinations, but is a whole substance and person called to respond to the love of God and to unify himself through a recognized orientation toward an ultimate end which hierarchizes the partial goods manifested in the various natural tendencies. Such a unification of natural tendencies as a function of the superior spiritual end, that is to say, such humanization of the dynamisms written in human nature, does not constitute at all a violence done to them. To the contrary, it is the fulfillment of a promise already inscribed in them.(74). For example, the high spiritual value that is shown in the gift of oneself in the reciprocal love of the spouse is already inscribed in the very nature of the sexual body, which discovers in this spiritual realization its ultimate reason for being. On the other hand, in this organic whole, all parts preserve a proper and irreducible meaning, of which reason must take account of in the development of the global plan of the person. The doctrine of the natural moral law has to therefore affirm the central role of reason in the actualization of a properly human plan of life, together with the consistency and the proper meaning of the pre-rational natural dynamisms.(75)

80. The moral meaning of the pre-rational natural dynamisms appears in full light in the teaching on the sins against nature. Certainly, every sin is against nature insofar as it opposes itself to right reason and obstructs the authentic development of the human person. Nevertheless, some behaviors are judged in a special manner to be sins against nature in the measure in which they contradict more directly the objective sense of the natural dynamisms that the person should assume in the unity of his moral life.(76) So deliberate and willed suicide goes against the natural inclination to preserve one’s actual existence and make it bear fruit. So also some sexual practices oppose themselves directly to the end inscribed in the sexual body of man. Therefor, they contradict also the interpersonal value which should promote a responsible and fully human sexual life.

81. The risk of absolutizing nature reduced to pure physical or biological component, and of neglecting the proper intrinsic vocation of being integrated in a spiritual project, menaces today some radical tendencies of the ecological movement. The irresponsible exploitation of nature on the part of human agents that seek only economic profit, and the dangers that weigh against the biosphere justly raise questions of conscience. Nevertheless, the “deep ecology” constitutes an excessive reaction. This advances a supposed equality of all living species, without recognizing any longer any particular role of the human being, and that, paradoxically, weakens the responsibility of man towards the biosphere of which he is part. In even more radical manner, some are united in considering the human being as a destroying virus which would harass the integrity of nature, and refuse him any meaning and any value in the biosphere. It arrives then at a sort of totalitarianism which excludes human existence in its specificity, and condemns legitimate human progress.

82. One is not able to make an adequate reply to the complex question of ecology except within a framework of a more profound understanding of the natural law, which gives value to the connection between the human person, society, culture and the equilibrium of the bio-physical sphere in which the human person is embodied. An integral ecology should promote that which is specifically human, valuing together the world of nature in its physical and biological integrity. In fact, even if man, as a moral being which seeks the truth and ultimate goods, transcends his actual immediate environment, he does so accepting the special mission of keeping watch over the natural world and of living in harmony with it, of defending its vital worth without which he is unable to maintain human life in the biosphere of this planet.

(73) John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis splendor, n. 50.

(74) The duty of to humanize the nature in man is inseparable from the duty to humanize external nature. This justifies the immense efforts by men to emancipate themselves from the forces of physical nature in the measure in which they obstruct the development of the properly human values. The struggle against illness, the prevention of hostile natural phenomena, the enhancement of the standards of living, are works that of themselves attest of the greatness of man called to replenish the earth and to subject it. (cf. Gen. 1:28). Cf. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 57.

(75) Reacting to the danger of physicalism, and fairly insisting on the decisive role of reason in the elaboration of the natural law, some contemporaneous theories of the natural law neglect, or rather refute, the moral meaning of the pre-rational natural dynamisms. The natural law is called "natural" only in reference to the reason, which defines the entirety of the nature of man. To obey the natural law is therefore reduced to acting in reasonable manner, that is to say, to apply to all behaviors a univocal ideal of rationality obtained only through practical reason. This means identifying wrongly the rationalilty of the natural law with the sole rationality of human reason without taking into account the rationality immanent in nature.

(76) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, IIa-IIae, q. 154, art. 11. The moral evaluation of the sins against nature must take into account not only their objective seriousness, but also of the subjective dispositions, often extenuating, of those who commit them.
(77) Such an integral ecology puts forth questions to every human being and every community in view of a new responsibility. It is inseparable from an global orientation respectful of the requirements of the natural law.

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