Catechism of the Catholic Church

474 Part Three 1952 There are different expressions of the moral law, all of them interrelated: eternal law—the source, in God, of all law; natural law; revealed law, comprising the Old Law and the New Law, or Law of the Gospel; finally, civil and ecclesiastical laws. 1953 The moral law finds its fullness and its unity in Christ. Jesus Christ is in person the way of perfection. He is the end of the law, for only he teaches and bestows the justice of God: “For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified.” 4 I. T he N atural M oral L aw 1954 Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Crea­ tor who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie: The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted. 5 1955 The “divine and natural” law 6 shows man the way to follow so as to practice the good and attain his end. The natural law states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense that the other is one’s equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in the Decalogue. This law is called “natural,” not in reference to the nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it properly belongs to human nature: Where then are these rules written, if not in the book of that light we call the truth? In it is written every just law; from it the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice, not that it migrates into it, but that it places its imprint on it, like a seal on a ring that passes onto wax, without leaving the ring. 7 4 Rom 10:4. 5 Leo XIII, Libertas præstantissimum, 597. 6 GS 89 § 1. 7 St. Augustine, De Trin. 14, 15, 21: PL 42, 1052. 578 307 1776 1787 396 2070