Pacem In Terris 37-38: God and the Moral Order

There’s something about the culture of humanity that is of God, and yet the more we embrace it, accept it, and live it, the more human we become:

37. Now the order which prevails in human society is wholly incorporeal in nature. Its foundation is truth, and it must be brought into effect by justice. It needs to be animated and perfected by (our) love for one another, and, while preserving freedom intact, it must make for an equilibrium in society which is increasingly more human in character.

38. But such an order—universal, absolute and immutable in its principles—finds its source in the true, personal and transcendent God. He is the first truth, the sovereign good, and as such the deepest source from which human society, if it is to be properly constituted, creative, and worthy of (human) dignity, draws its genuine vitality. (Cf. Pius XII’s broadcast message, Christmas 1942, AAS 35 (1943) 14) This is what St. Thomas means when he says: “Human reason is the standard which measures the degree of goodness of the human will, and as such it derives from the eternal law, which is divine reason . . . Hence it is clear that the goodness of the human will depends much more on the eternal law than on human reason.” (Summa Theol. Ia-IIae, q. 19, a.4; cf. a.9)

Will non-believers accept this? I don’t know if this is as important a question for the Christian as much as the notion that Christ empowers and shows believers how to demonstrate this. Can the visible society of the Church be a model? That might be a difficult task in these days.

Truth is the foundation, and justice is the means of building the edifice. Without love, it makes for a fine, but empty building. It would seem we all have a tremendous amount of work to do in our own house. Rather than be discouraged by this, I see no other way than to rely all the more on God and his grace for the way out. If we cooperate with the basic principles of truth and justice, and strive to love those with whom we struggle, we can do no better than that.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Pacem In Terris 37-38: God and the Moral Order

  1. John McGrath says:

    The Church is a reflection of society, not the other way around.

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