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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Living Faith

5 tips for Catholics to stay positive Watch

Image of Stay positive by following five simple tips (WikiMedia Commons).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Do you - or someone you know - struggle with maintaining a positive attitude? Are people less inclined to spend time with you due to your poor attitude? Are you tired of wallowing in negativity? Try these simple tips to change the course of your life forever! LOS ... continue reading


LISTEN NOW: Benedictine nuns release new album Watch

Image of Nuns record new album to promote faith (Churchpop).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Benedictine nuns in Missouri recently released their latest album <i>Adoration at Ephesus</i> - and it is amazing! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mother Cecilia, the prioress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, told <a ... continue reading


Why are these transparent wires being put up in cities around the world? Watch

Image of Eruv lines are set up in cities around the world to make life easier for Orthodox Jews.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Members of an ultra-conservative religious denomination are stringing transparent wires around many urban neighborhoods, all for religious reasons. These nearly invisible wires form webs in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. What are these wires and ... continue reading


'[D]on't ignore us:' Pope Francis explains the difference between knowledge and real love Watch

Image of Knowing about God is not the same as loving Him (Vanvick/Wordpress).

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

On Wednesday Pope Francis said that just because someone is an expert in God's law and a strict adherent to the rules doesn't necessarily mean they know how to love and serve others. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's not automatic that whoever frequents the ... continue reading


Miracle in the Philippines: Tribe converted to Christianity after hearing Gospel and watching 'Passion of the Christ' Watch

Image of Manobo tribe embraces Jesus (tikbo).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Manobo tribe of the Philippines were taught the Gospel and viewed Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" film, which led several to convert to Christianity. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to missionaries from Christian Aid Mission, nearly the entire ... continue reading


'I just couldn't believe it:' Oklahoma officers seize Christian charity money Watch

Image of Christian rocker stripped of charity money after being accused of engaging in drug activities.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Christian rock band Klo & Kweh was driving through Oklahoma when they were pulled over for a broken headlight. What happened next was a shock that rippled throughout the Christian community. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to <a ... continue reading


Pope Francis decrees instances of miracles and martyrdom Watch

Image of Pope Francis spoke of saints on Tuesday.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On Tuesday, Pope Francis spoke of several men and women worthy of canonization. He included miracle attributions and stories of martyrdom. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis received a private audience with Cardinal Angelo ... continue reading


Christians deserve equal protection too! - Christian baker case may go to Supreme Court Watch

Image of Christian bakers should not be forced to participate in someone else's sin.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The case of a pair of bakers who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple, may go all the way to the Supreme Court and resolve the apparent infringement of their First and Fourteenth Amendments. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The attorney for Aaron and ... continue reading


Pope Francis writes moving letters to prisoners Watch

Image of Prisoners in Velletri receive letters from the Pope.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Inmates at Italian prison Velletri wrote Pope Francis letters earlier this year - and received personal replies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, the prisoners gave their letters to Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the Bishop of Albano, during a ... continue reading


3 inspirational reminders of hope for Catholics facing darkness Watch

Image of (Photo by: AJGIEL)

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Tears roll down my face as a sea of blankets threaten to pull me completely under. I fight to stay afloat while the darkness continues to pull me down like a thousand needles hooked to anchors. Terrifying thoughts run rampant through my fragile mind, "what's the point ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • LISTEN NOW: Benedictine nuns release new album
  • Daily Reading for Sunday, May 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • 5 tips for Catholics to stay positive
  • A Marriage Blessing Prayer HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Friday, April 29, 2016
  • St. Catherine of Siena: Saint of the Day for Friday, April 29, 2016
  • Why are these transparent wires being put up in cities around the world?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:7-21
7 and after a long discussion, Peter stood up and addressed them. 'My ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:1-2, 2-3, 10
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!2 ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:9-11
9 I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Remain in my ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 28th, 2016 Image

St. Peter Chanel
April 28: In St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (Feast day ... Read More