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91. Kinds of Law

1. The community of all things in the universe is governedby divine reason. This government is law. Since divine reason iseternal, being identified with God himself, this law is the eternallaw.

2. All things are subject to the eternal law; it directsall things to their proper ends. But it is, in a special way, thelaw which governs rational creatures. Human beings share the divinereason by becoming aware of an order in things according to whichman is to attain his last end, his true purpose in existing. Theeternal law, thus manifest to human reason, is called thenatural law. The natural law is the eternal moral law asknowable by sound human reason without the aid of supernaturalrevelation.

3. From the precepts of the natural law, human reasonderives details of direction and order for conducting the affairsof life. Human reason interprets or applies the natural law inparticular cases. Each enactment and application of the natural lawfor particular cases is a human law.

4. Over and above the natural law, and human laws derivedfrom it, man needs to have the eternal and divine lawrevealed to him supernaturally. For man has a supernaturalend to attain; merely natural means are inadequate to attain thisend. Besides, human judgment about particular acts and situationsis variable and uncertain, so that human laws are sometimescontrary to one another. Nothing short of an unmistakabledeclaration of divine and eternal law can adequately direct andcurb the interior acts of a man. Such declaration is made only bysupernatural revelation. Human laws cannot forbid and punish allevils; when human laws attempt to do this, they invariably destroymuch that is good. Only the divine law, supernaturally manifested,can forbid and punish all evils, and at the same time perfectlyserve the common good of human society.

5. The divine and revealed law is manifested in the Oldand the New Testaments of Holy Scripture. We call these the OldLaw and the New Law. These two laws are distinct, asthe imperfect state of a thing is distinct from its fully developedand perfect state; as the baby is distinct from the adult intowhich it is developing; as the sapling is distinct from the treethat it is to become. For the New Law is the perfection of the OldLaw. The Old Law worked for the good of mankind through materialthings; the New Law works for the good of mankind through spiritualthings. The Old Law was enforced by fear; the New Law is enforcedby love.

6. By sin, man turned away from God and fell under theinfluence of strong sensual impulses. These impulses are alwaysready to flame up instantly; they are called fomes of sin.Fomes is the Latin word for touchwood or tinder thatcatches fire from the smallest spark. Now, while fomes isa deviation from the rule of reason, it is a constant directiveforce, and therefore it is called (though not with strictpropriety) a law. St. Paul speaks of it so when he says(Bom. 7:23): "I see another law in my members fighting againstthe law of my mind."

"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. "
Thomas á Kempis

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