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94. The Natural Law

1. As we have seen, the natural law is the eternal law asknowable by sound human reason without the aid of supernaturalrevelation. The natural law becomes naturally known (and is thuspromulgated) to normal human beings as they advance frominfancy to fuller and fulleruse of reason. The natural law isnot, in itself, a habit in the human mind, but it tends tobecome a habit. The habitual knowledge of first moral principles(summed up in: "Do good-avoid evil") becomes a true habitin the human mind; it is a habit called by the namesynderesis.

2. The basic precept of the natural law, "Dogood-avoid evil," is the root out of which definite preceptsand prohibitions grow as a person advances in awareness of thingsand recognizes their good or their evil. The natural law embracesall these directives.

3. The natural law indicates and directs man'sinclination to act in accordance with reason. Hence, since allvirtues accord with reason, we may say that all virtues areprescribed by the natural law.

4. The natural law is one and the same for all men. Yet,in certain persons, it may be perverted by passion, habit, or evildisposition, as, for instance, in ancient Sparta where lies andthefts and successful trickery were not considered wrong. Now, suchexceptions only prove the rule. Such exceptions do not destroy theuniversality of the natural law anymore than the prevalence ofmalaria among a certain people destroys the universal understandingof what is meant by human health.

5. The natural law is changeless in the sense that itsprecepts cannot be upset or destroyed. It can change by extension,by new applications, as experience brings new situations andcircumstances. Such a change is not in the natural law itself; itis extrinsic to the natural law; it is merely a new use of thenatural law. For instance, the question may arise as to the use ofatom bombs in warfare; we may inquire whether the use of suchweapons is in conflict with the natural law. Such a question isnew; it could not arise in the days when atom bombs were entirelyunknown. The question seeks to apply the unchanging natural law ina changing world.

6. The basic and general principles of the natural lawcannot be eradicated from human nature. St. Augustine (Conf.ii) says, "The law is written in the hearts of men;iniquity itself does not efface it."

"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"The name of Jesus, pronounced with reverence and affection, has a kind of power to soften the heart. "
St Philip Neri

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"It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come."
Thomas á Kempis

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