Spirituality for Today – January 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 6

Natural Law

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

May God Bless You,
"to the world you might be one person,
But to one person you just might be the world."

Customarily, one's intellect welcomes the arrival of a new year with a flurry of activity designed to improve the current model of the self. The initial step in the process is to identify and evaluate the raw material of one's being. There is a larger reality here. What is being determined is the essence of the value and meaning of human life itself. Catholic dogma defines the human being as a creation of God beginning at conception and reaching into eternity. The spiritual, mental, and physical components form a unity fashioned to fulfill the highest expressions of love. The moral springboard toward accomplishing this task is something known as Natural Law.

A helpful means of introducing the topic may be drawn from the document with the lengthy title, The Ethics Committee and Pastoral Care Department's Policies and Procedures Manual of the Diocese of Bridgeport [Connecticut]. This work offers a most adequate definition and application of Natural Law in human understanding and interaction.

Natural Law is the rule of action implicit in the very nature of things. An understanding of the Natural Law is not external to the human person but is imprinted on his heart. Man knows the Natural Law by direct intuition and the exercise of practical reason.
The first principal of Natural Law – Do Good and Avoid Evil – as it relates to the providing of Catholic health care services states that:
  1. There are objective goods: including the protection of human life, especially at its most vulnerable stages.
  2. Human life has intrinsic moral significance that outweighs any utilitarian considerations.
  3. The good of human life is not based on subjective judgment.

These statements regarding Natural Law affirm that human life has "objective goods" and "intrinsic moral significance" that are not founded on "subjective judgment." Upon these truths, one can step with assurance onto the path of self-improvement.

Many are the areas in modern society that need an awakening not only to the impulse toward bettering the current state of morality, but also to grasping the reality of how low values have sunk. One must depend on that 'intrinsic moral significance" with which Natural Law states is inherent in human existence. Although the forces for good face what appears to be an enemy of immense size and power, the commitment to do God's will and to stand steadfast against strong opposition ultimately will prevail.

In all engagements, it is the valor of a few that turns the fortune of the day.
– Suetonius, Roman General

Whatever foundations that are free of human relativism are based not on the subjective but on the divine. If year's end is to find a person better than at the beginning, growth closer to God is its only true measure.