Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"He Had Spoken Out Boldly in the Name of the Lord"

    "It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons, that is, endowed with reason and free will and therefore bearing personal responsibility are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth.  They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth.....

    ...It is through his conscience that man sees and recognizes the demands of the divine law.  He is bound to follow this conscience faithfully in all his activity so that he may come to God, who is his last end.  Therefore, he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience.  Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.  The reason is because the practice of religion of its very nature consists primarily of those voluntary and free internal acts by which a man directs himself to God. 

Acts of this kind cannot be commanded or forbidden by any merely human authority,  but his own social nature requires that a man give external expression to these internal acts of religion, that he communicate with others on religious matters and profess his religion in community.  Consequently, to deny man the free exercise of religion in society, when the just requirements of public order are observed, is to do an injustice to the human person and to the very order established by God for men.

    Furthermore, the private and public acts of religion by which men direct themselves to God according to their convictions transcend of their very nature the earthly and temporal order of things.  Therefore the civil authority, the purpose of which is the care of the common good in the temporal order, must recognize and look with favor on the religious life of the citizens.  But if it  presumes to control or restrict religious activity it must be said to have exceeded the limits of its power."

                        -- Vatican Council II
                            Declaration on Religious Liberty
                            (Dignitatis Humnanae,) #2-3

        I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

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