Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

8/9/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness (St. Paul)

For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense . . . . To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/9/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: natural law, Cicero, moral law, freedom, choice, pagan, reason, Fides et Ratio, Andrew Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - There are 3,706 citations or quotations in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Of these, all but one are citations to or quotations from Christian sources--to Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, Conciliar Documents, Papal Encyclicals, the Liturgy, the wisdom of the Saints.

There is only one citation or quotation in the entire Catechism to a Pagan author. That quotation is found in § 1956 of the Catechism, where the Catechism treats of the natural law. The Catechism states:

For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense . . . . To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely.

Unremarkably, the Church's teaching is announced via a quotation.

What is remarkable is that the Catholic Church, in the Catechism, selected this particular quotation.

The quotation is taken from the writings of the Roman Statesman and Lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero (ca. 106-43 BC). Specifically, to Book III, section 33 of his Republic.

It is fitting that the Church relies on a pagan to announce to the faithful that there is a natural moral law. The point the Church is trying to make is that the natural law, being based upon reason and accessible at least in theory without recourse to revelation, is available and accessible to all human persons universally. Because we are brothers, under one God, we have but one Law, the natural moral law. Unless operating under ignorance, or bias, or blinded by convention, the virtuous pagan will see it, as will all men and women of good will.  And so virtuous pagans, men and women of good will, and Christians can work together for just and equitable laws in the City of Man.

The great Catholic humanist Erasmus, it has been written, exclaimed upon reading Cicero's De Senectute, "Vix me contineo, quin exclamen: Sancte Cicero, ora pro nobis."  We might translate it thus: "I can hardly refrain from crying out, Holy Cicero, pray for us."

Though perhaps we would not go so far as Erasmus in treating Cicero as a saint, we surely can recognize in words of Cicero, especially those selected by the Church in her Catechism, a reflection of the the Eternal Law that God has placed in the heart and consciences of men and women. Cicero had learned his doctrine from the Stoics, philosophers with no connection to the Gospel.

Perhaps St. Paul knew of or even recalled the words of Cicero selected by the Church to grace the pages of her Catechism when he wrote his epistle to the Romans: "For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people's hidden works through Christ Jesus." (Rom. 2:14-16).

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - THIRD STATION - St. Joachim, patron of fathers

Image of St. Joachim, pray for us!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the third station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. JoachimBy tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. After ... continue reading


Priest to lead pilgrims on 104 mile walk to see Pope Francis in Philly - Here's how you too can make a pilgrimage Watch

Image of Pilgrims in Scotland make a Good Friday trek burdened with crosses. Many Catholics around the world still make pilgrimages, even if they are the work of just a day.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An intrepid group of about 20 pilgrims will be making the 104 mile walk from Baltimore to Philadelphia to attend Mass with Pope Francis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Remember, our Lord walked to all of his appointments," Fr. John J. Lombardi told Catholic ... continue reading


Atheists force portrait of Jesus out of Kansas public school Watch

Image of The portrait of Jesus that has been on display at the school since the 1950s.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Local residents in Chanute, Kansas expressed anger after the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully filed a petition for the removal of a portrait of Jesus Christ, which had been hanging for over 60 years in a Kansas public school.   ... continue reading


Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - SECOND STATION - St. Francis patron saint of animals and ecology

Image of Welcome to the virtual shrine to St. Francis.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the second station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. FrancisSaint Francis was born to a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy. Raised in a wealthy home, the young ... continue reading


Philadelphia prison inmates design chair for Pope Francis, and hope he will pray with them - Victims want their voices heard too Watch

Image of An inmate proudly shares the seal made for Pope Francis' seat.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will meet with prison inmates during his visit to Philadelphia. In anticipation of this arrival, inmates have built him a special chair to use. His visit will bring hope to inmates and their families as he shares the restorative message of Christ with ... continue reading


Pope Francis declares parents tasked with teaching their children how to pray Watch

Image of

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

On Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the family, saying that parents have the responsibility to teach their children to pray. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Delivering his address to pilgrims and visitors, gathered under the hot sun for ... continue reading


Before TWO MILLION pilgrims arrive, Philly vendors plan to cash in with kistch Watch

Image of Enterprising vendors are hoping to earn some toasty profits when Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The arrival of Pope Francis and some two million pilgrims in Philadelphia next month is expected to bring a windfall to most of the businesses in the city which can remain open during the visit. Businesses will have a single weekend to entice pilgrims to visit their ... continue reading


No school days for working children

Image of

By Tony Magliano

It's that time again when adults take off to celebrate Labor Day, and kids head back to the adventures a new school year. But for millions of children worldwide the adventures of a new school year remain but a dream. Sadly, these children will never learn to read or ... continue reading


PRIDE is the sin the devil likes the most Watch

Image of It has been nine years since Fr. Gallego was appointed as exorcist. In an interview conducted by the Spanish daily El Mundo, the priest said that in his experience, pride is the sin the devil likes the most.

By CNA/EWTN News

Is an exorcist afraid? What is the devil's favorite sin? These and other questions were tackled in a recent interview with the Dominican priest, Father Juan Jose Gallego, an exorcist from the Archdiocese of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. (CAN/EWTN) - It has ... continue reading


Former President Jimmy Carter stays close to God during difficult times Watch

Image of Jimmy Carter holds on to his faith as he battles cancer.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former president Jimmy Carter holds on to his faith while undergoing radiation treatment for the spread of brain cancer. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - In a recent appearance at Maranatha Baptist Church, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter shared the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
1 'And now, Israel, listen to the laws and customs ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5
2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come ... Read More

Reading 2, James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27
17 all that is good, all that is perfect, is given us ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2015 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, was probably a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter