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.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Veritatis Splendor: Part 12--Lex Aeterna, Lex Intrinseca

“BEATUS VIR . . . IN LEGE DOMINI VOLUNTAS EIUS," blessed is the man for whom the law of the Lord is his will." With these words from the first Psalm, John Paul introduces his next point in his encyclical on the natural law, Veritatis splendor. Man's autonomy, he stated in his previous paragraph, is not give as a gift of God so that man may separate himself from God. Rather, the autonomy in man is relative, participatory, in that it ought to reflect the theonomy in which in participates, just like the natural moral law participates in the eternal law. Man's freedom and man's moral law is within God's freedom and law because it is "patterned on God's freedom," according to the official English translation, cum sit efficta secundum Dei voluntatem, "since it is effected [or made] according to God's will," in the original Latin.

For a man to abide by God's will is therefore consonant with the will that lies behind the freedom that God has given man. To act outside of that will is to use freedom in a manner not so willed, and, as a result, constitutes a perversion or abuse of freedom. Man is therefore not really free unless that freedom is used in conformity with God's will, which is to say, the natural moral law. Freedom is intended to do good and o avoid evil. How is this the separation of good and evil ends accomplished, and how are the means by which good is to be done and evil avoided determined? Through practical reason.

[I]n order to accomplish this [doing good and avoiding evil] [man]must be able to distinguish good from evil. And this takes place above all thanks to the light of natural reason, the reflection in man of the splendor of God's countenance. Thus Saint Thomas . . . [states] "that the light of natural reason whereby we discern good from evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else but an imprint on us of the divine light" It also becomes clear why this law is called the natural law: it receives this name not because it refers to the nature of irrational beings but because the reason which promulgates it is proper to human nature.

VS, 42.

Human reason is not autonomous, as it operates under the governorship of God, the Creator of the universe, and the One Who in His Providence, sustains it and governs it through that "supreme rule of life, that "eternal, objective, and universal law by which God out of his wisdom and love arranges, directs and governs the whole world and the paths of the human community," that which, in the "classic doctrine," is known as "God's eternal law." VS, 43.** It is defined by St. Augustine as "the reason or the will of God, a God who commands us to respect the natural order and forbids us to disturb it." St. Thomas Aquinas defined it as "the type (ratione) of the divine wisdom as moving all things to their due end."†
And God's wisdom is providence, a love which cares. God himself loves and cares, in the most literal and basic sense, for all creation. . . . He cares for man not "from without," (extrinsecus) through the laws of physical nature, but "from within" (intrinsecus),through reason, which by its natural knowledge of God's eternal law, is consequently able to show man the right direction to take in his free actions.
VS, 43. The natural law is therefore not a lex extrinseca, an extrinsic law, a heteronomous law, but a lex intrinseca, and intrinsic law, a law fitted to man, natural to man, within man's very created design and being. It is a law most intimate and near.

I commit myself to Your Providence

Since the natural law participates in God's Providence, his divine wisdom, his "love which cares," it follows that the natural law is an expression of God's "love which cares." Sed Dei sapientia est providentia, amor, qui curam adhibet. God's providence cares and loves, curat et amat. More, since we are given freedom to follow the natural law, we are being invited by God "to participate in his [God's own providence, since he [God] desires to guide the world--not only the world of nature but also the world of human persons." It is God's manifest desire, given the gift of freedom and this intimate and near lex intrinseca, that God wills to have man participate in his Providence "through man himself, through man's reasonable and responsible care," through man himself, in imitation of God who gave him the gift, exercising that same "love which cares." St. Thomas Aquinas notes how the natural law is nothing less than a "human expression of God's eternal law," VS, 43, which means that man "partakes of a share of providence," being provident for both himself and for his fellow men, and indeed the world over which he exercises dominion. The natural moral law, then, is a law which loves and which cares for us: lex naturalils, lex intrinseca, curat et amat; it is a personal law, personal in terms of its source, and personal in terms of its object.

*The quotation is derived from the Summa Theologiae, IaIIae, q. 91, a. 2.
**Quoting VII, Declaration on Religious Freedom,
Dignitatis humanae, 3.
***Contra Faustum, Book 22, chap. 27; PL 42, 418. ("ratio seu Dei voluntas quae iubet servare naturae ordinem et vetat turbare eum")
†S.T., IaIIae, q.93, a.1 ("divinae sapientiae ratione, etiam ex eo quod... ad debitum finem cuncta per eam moveantur")

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