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.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI on the Natural Moral Law

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM POPE BENEDICT XVI'S speech at a general audience held on June 17, 2010. The entire talk pertains to St. Thomas Aquinas, and I have culled out that portion of the Pope's speech pertaining to the importance of th natural law and St. Thomas Aquinas's teaching in regard to it. The full text in English of the audience may be seen at here:

. . An important application of this relation between nature and grace is recognized in the moral theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is very timely. At the center of his teaching in this field, he puts the new law, which is the law of the Holy Spirit. With a profoundly evangelical focus, he insists on the fact that this law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to all those who believe in Christ. To such grace is joined the written and oral teaching of the doctrinal and moral truths, transmitted by the Church. Stressing the fundamental role in moral life of the Holy Spirit's action, of grace, from which the theological and moral virtues flow, St. Thomas makes one understand that every Christian can attain the lofty prospects of the "Sermon on the Mount" if he lives an authentic relationship of faith in Christ, if he opens himself to the action of his Holy Spirit. However -- Aquinas adds -- "even if grace is more effective than nature, still nature is more essential for man" (Summa Theologiae, Ia, q, 29, a. 3), due to which, in the Christian moral perspective, there is a place for reason, which is capable of discerning the natural moral law. Reason can recognize [this law] considering what is good to do and what is good to avoid to obtain that happiness which is in each one's heart, and which also imposes a responsibility toward others and, hence, the search for the common good. In other words, the virtues of man, theological and moral, are rooted in human nature. Divine grace supports, sustains and drives the ethical commitment but, on their own, according to St. Thomas, all men, believers and non-believers, are called to recognize the exigencies of human nature expressed in natural law and to be inspired in it in the formulation of positive laws, that is, those issuing from the civil and political authorities to regulate human coexistence.

St. Thomas Aquinas Before a Crucifix

When the natural law and the responsibility it implies are denied, the way is opened dramatically to ethical relativism on the individual plane and to the totalitarianism of the state on the political plane. The defense of man's universal rights and the affirmation of the absolute value of the dignity of the person postulate a foundation. Is not the natural law precisely this foundation, with the non-negotiable values that it indicates? The Venerable John Paul II wrote in his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" words that remain very timely: "It is therefore urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential and innate human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority and no State can ever create, modify or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect and promote" (No. 71).

Pope Benedict XVI

In conclusion, Thomas proposes to us a broad and trustworthy concept of human reason: broad because it is not limited to the spaces of the so-called empirical-scientific reason, but open to the whole being and hence also to the fundamental and inalienable questions of human living; and trustworthy because human reason, above all if it accepts the inspirations of the Christian faith, is a promoter of a civilization that recognizes the dignity of the person, the intangibility of his rights and the strength of his duties. It is not surprising that the doctrine about the dignity of the person, fundamental for the recognition of the inviolability of man's rights, matured in realms of thought that took up the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, who had a very lofty concept of the human creature. He defined it, with his rigorously philosophical language, as "that which is most perfect found in the whole of nature, that is a subsistent subject in a rational nature" (Summa Theologiae, Ia, q. 29, a. 3).

The profundity of St. Thomas Aquinas' thought stems -- let us never forget it -- from his lively faith and his fervent piety, which he expressed in inspired prayers, such as this one in which he asks God: "Grant me, I pray, a will that seeks you, a wisdom that finds you, a life that pleases you, a perseverance that waits for you with trust and a trust that in the end succeeds in possessing you."


  1. Reason can recognize [this law] considering what is good to do and what is good to avoid to obtain that happiness which is in each one's heart,...

    Where is the real original Natural Law? Reason, human reason can not "recognize" "THE GOOD" unaided by the precepts in the natural order. Human Reasoning must be predicated upon the precepts of nature.

    Communists, socialists and atheists all operate on Reason. Was not the French revolutionaries based on "reason"?

    To realize the "good in each heart"? I thought the Scripture teaches that man's heart is full of evil and constantly set upon evil.

    This talk of "dignity" and of "rights" is very masonic. Early Christians did not talk about "dignity" or "rights". Just pray the Our Father and follow the moral law. What is there about "rights" and dignity? The Gospel is not about that. "Rights" have to do with Politics, not with religion. Rights in only recognized in a political sphere with what they dictate the citizen can do. Without a political system, there is NO rights. Is Pope Benedict declaring and pushing the Masonic Thomas Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence"? Man does not have "rights" outside of his racial group. What the American Indian and the Englishman have in common? They run their justice systems differently. An Englishman declares a right of jury? Where is that in the history of the American Indian? Do Indians then claim a right to a jury? He has his own system. And when Englishmen were captured by American Indians, they were tried under American Indian ideals, not by "universal rights"!

  2. Glad to see you are still reading.

    I do not think one need worry that Pope Benedict XVI shares in the presuppositions of universalist, even pantheistic or deistic, Masons. His view of God is much different. This is certain from his other statements.

    There is a perfectly legitimate use of the word "right" as there is of the word "reason." These words are not words entirely in the camp of the devil. Though the word "right" and "reason," like "justice," like "law," "dignity," and even "liberty" is used by those in other camps, it does not mean that they cannot be understood or used in a legitimate sense. Madame Jeanne-Marie Roland said: "Liberty! How many crimes are carried out in your name?" The same is true for Reason, Right, Justice, Law, even Conscience.

    The "Reason" that Pope Benedict XVI invokes here is not the "pure Reason" or Kant or the "reason" of the Masons or Jacobins or the Communists. It is not instrumental only; it is both instrumental, and metaphysical. It is the faculty that is applied in conjunction and in consonance with the real world, which includes the greater creation about us as well as the creation within us. It includes the inner tendencies in us, properly understood, and wisely construed. Not all impulse in us is unquestionably good, as it tends toward disorder. But neither is it all bad. You don't here it much nowadays, but there was the expression "right Reason." Pope Benedict XVI's "reason" is "right Reason," not the "wrong Reason" of the materialists, empiricists, etc.

    The "Reason" that Pope Benedict XVI invokes here must be understood--he would want it understood--to include what you call the "precepts of the natural order," both within us (writ in our hearts, in the microcosmos of our heart) and without us (in the created order of God, the macrocosmos, which informs us of the Eternal Law). Though evil is in man's heart, unquestionably, St. Paul also tells us God's law is writ there. So the heart must have both good and evil aspects to it which the wise, through "right reason" strive to sort out.