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97. Changes in Law

1. Human laws are made by fallible man. They are thereforesubject to change as men gain more experience and are thus enabledto frame laws that more and more consistently serve the generalwelfare. Further, there may arise in a society conditions whichrequire new laws or alterations in existing laws.

2. Yet frequent or sudden changes in human laws are to beavoided. To serve its purpose, law requires a certain permanence; achange is, in itself, usually prejudicial to the general welfare.Therefore, unless the good to be achieved by change is great enoughto warrant the upheaval occasioned by the change itself, law is notto be altered.

3. Human reason which puts laws into words ofenactment may also express itself in deeds. And thuscustoms arise to serve the common good. Customs can cometo have the force of law itself. Indeed, it is possible for customto become so firmly and widely established that it supplantsexisting statute law. For the rest, custom is regularly thestandard by which existing law is interpreted.

4. It may be that a law which works generally for thecommon welfare is found, in certain cases, to inflict damage uponindividuals. The person in charge of the society concerned may, insuch instances, excuse the individuals from observing the law. Theauthoritative decree of excuse is called a dispensationfrom the law.

"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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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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"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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