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.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lex Gratiae supponit et elevavit Legem Naturae

TWO LAWS GOVERN THE CHRISTIAN: the natural law, the lex naturae, and the law of grace, the lex gratiae. It is a common Catholic principle: Gratia elevavit naturam; therefore, gratia supponit naturam. Grace elevates nature; therefore, grace supposes nature. Both the natural law and the law of grace, obtain from the same source, and consequently are not competitors, but partners, in the redemption of man, his sanctification, and his salvation. To suggest that the law of grace contradicts the natural law is a falsehood, equally as false as suggesting that reason and revelation contradict. Both Christ and his Church demand more of us than simply obedience to the natural law, but obedience and conformity to the natural law is a sine qua non of the Catholic moral life.

Orestes Brownson, in this excerpt from his The Two Brothers, addresses the distinction, and yet complementarity, of the law of nature and the law of grace.

"The law of nature falls, to some extent, under the jurisdiction of reason, and reason, to that extent, is its legal keeper and judge, and has the right to sit in judgment on its infractions. As the law of nature and that of grace both have the same origin, are enacted by the same sovereign Lawgiver, and as the latter confessedly presupposes the former and confirms it, it can never authorize what the former prohibits, any more than the former can authorize what the latter prohibits, unless we may suppose, what is not supposable, that God may be in contradiction with himself. The law of grace transcends the law of nature, but does not and cannot enjoin what it forbids."

[From Brownson's Works, "The Two Brothers" (H. F. Brownson: Detroit, 1902), Vol. 6, p. 333.]

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