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Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Dynamics of Good and Evil

The Dynamics of Good and Evil

By Jim J. McCrea

The twentieth century Catholic philosopher, Dietrich von Hildebrand, maintained that the morally good person prefers the objectively important, while the morally bad person prefers the subjectively satisfying. The objectively important is what is important in itself - that is, what is important for its own sake, independent of the personal good it can confer - while the subjectively satisfying is what is merely personally pleasing. In contrast to this idea, a famous success guru says that the underlying reason for all human actions is that they are done to maximize personal pleasure or to minimize personal pain. For example, according to him, both Donald Trump and Mother Teresa are motivated by basically the same thing. He says that Donald Trump is motivated to avoid the pain of being poor and Mother Teresa is motivated to avoid the pain of seeing people destitute. Some may believe that this is a profound insight, but others may be more accurate in sensing that something is wrong with it. That is an example of how something can be falsified in attempting to get to the bottom of it. In contrast to what this success guru says, the very essence of moral goodness is to transcend the ego and to promote the good simply for being the good, and to do what is right simply because it is right. This is the true meaning of integrity. One who responds to any situation with the question: "what is in it for me?" is not a morally good person. Goodness, above all, is expressed in the supernatural virtue of charity. It is the highest and purest expression of moral goodness to love God simply for His own sake, and to love one's neighbor for God's sake and for the fact that one's neighbor is made in the image and likeness of God.

The titanic struggle today within the individual, within the Church, and within society is whether the preference for the objectively important or the subjectively satisfying will constitute the main motivating force. It is the titanic struggle between love and sin. This struggle is expressed in many and varied ways. As a main motivator, the objectively important vs. the subjectively satisfying is manifested in:

(1) A vision of woman as nurturers and bearers of life vs. radical feminism;
(2) A vision of men as protectors and providers vs. predators and seekers after pleasure, power, and material possessions;
(3) Teaching the young that sexuality is a gift from God and that sexual activity is to be used only in holy matrimony to generate life and strengthen the marital love bond vs. teaching the young that the purpose of sex is mere pleasure and that they should only know how to have sex "safely";
(4) Pro-life vs. pro-choice;
(5) social justice vs. a capitalism which values profits above all else and disregards people.

Many more such dichotomous pairs could be listed. The struggle of the objectively important vs. the subjectively satisfying, as a main motivating force, is the struggle between the Culture of Life and the culture of death in our society today.

It is the traditional Aristotelian viewpoint that the ultimate final cause (goal) of all human acts is happiness - that no matter what is done by a person, happiness is the ultimate motivating force. Morality, according to this, is the means by which this ultimate end is sought. This idea of morality as concerning the choice between good or evil (which are intermediate ends) means to achieve happiness, has dominated much moral philosophy. However, Dietrich von Hildebrand sees this as too narrow. For von Hildebrand, morality concerns the choice between two distinct ends --- again, the objectively important and the subjectively satisfying. It would not necessarily be evil to do something for one's own satisfaction. The evil would be in indulging our personal satisfaction when something important in itself calls us to duty. For example, it would be evil to continue to enjoy a hobby when a mother or father seriously needs our help. What the will always seeks is some form of good. To prefer the subjectively satisfying is to be motivated by the forces of pride and concupiscence. To prefer the objectively important is to be motivated by reverence and love. It is not a contradiction to say that in moral evil a good is sought. The evil in this consists in goodness being sought for oneself alone and in treating others as a mere means to this goodness. Moral goodness indeed includes seeking our own good, but it also includes being equally interested in seeking the good of others for their sakes (and not so that we will receive something in return). We are morally good in seeking our own good because we ourselves are part of what is objectively important (God has willed us and loves us). One only becomes infected with evil to the extent that one treats oneself as more important than others simply because oneself is the self. This is the evil of egoism from which all other evils flow.

This raises a question: If the human soul has been created to love and serve God and others, how is the moral evil of satisfying the self at the expense of others possible? To answer this, we must look at the psychology of human consciousness. From our own point of view, it seems as if we are at the center of reality. A first fundamental act of consciousness makes it appear that we are at the center of a gigantic sphere. In this first act of consciousness, we have maximum awareness of what is closest to us and the further away from us that things are, the less awareness we have of them. We would have maximum awareness of ourselves because we are at the center of the sphere. Subjectively we would see ourselves as having the most reality and the further away things are, the less reality they would have. What the evil person does is to take this subjective viewpoint and raise it to an absolute. For the evil person, he really is the "center," and all others are merely a means to serve him. For moral goodness, a second fundamental act of consciousness is required. In this second act, this sphere is transcended and is seen as a mere creation of one's subjectivity and not as things really are. It is then seen that others are centers of equal legitimacy (with God as the ultimate center of reality). The morally good person acts in accordance with this second fundamental act of consciousness.

This preference for moral goodness or moral evil reflected in the choice between the objectively important and the subjectively satisfying can be seen in the test of the angels. Angels are finite but purely immaterial beings which exist mid-way between man and God. It is generally believed that they were created before the physical universe. After their creation, God put them to a test to determine their worthiness for heaven. Tradition holds that Lucifer, being the chief angel, rebelled first against God, and if Revelation 12:3-4 is understood in a given way, one third of the angels followed him. It is often asked, if Lucifer fell first, what tempted him to fall, since he is the first in the line of tempters? The very fact that he is a self tempted him to fall. He too in a first fundamental act of consciousness perceived himself at the center of a sphere of reality. By his own free will, he failed to act upon a second fundamental act of consciousness which saw this sphere as the result of his own subjective view point and God as the true center. He choose to make the sphere an absolute. All of the angels were tested to see if they would make this leap out of their own subjective sphere to embrace objective reality.

At the moment of their test, they were simultaneously given a vision of two realities. On their right they had a vision of God being honored and worshipped above all else and all other creatures being loved and enriched (this is the objectively important with the self being subordinate to it). On their left they had a vision of themselves alone being honored and enriched, and all others acting as a mere means to this (--this is the subjectively satisfying being affirmed with all others serving it). The test, for each angel, was to determine which reality he would choose. As mentioned above the majority choose the reality on the right. As a reward, they were immediately granted the beatific vision. The angels, who became evil, choose the reality on the left. In choosing to have themselves served and honored above all else, they choose that the happiness and goodness of all others would be sacrificed to this end. In this, they incurred a monstrous degree of guilt. As a punishment, they were immediately cast down into hell.

** footnote: It may be true, as a tradition states, that the good angels were found worthy because they accepted the God-man Jesus Christ as their king and the Blessed Virgin as their queen, and the evil angels fell because they rejected that. There may have been many things which constituted the content of these two simultaneous visions. The acceptance / rejection of Jesus and Mary may have been at the center of them. The inability of the fallen angels to repent is based on the fact that they knew exactly what the light was and utterly and willfully rejected it. This utter rejection of goodness, in the light of perfect understanding, makes repentance for the fallen angels impossible. In no way was their rejection of goodness based on some form of misunderstanding, as it is most often the case with humans.


We will now look at the source of all goodness which is God. The following analysis will be a combination of natural and revealed theology.

All finite things owe their existence to God. God exists because He is Existence Itself (Exodus 3:14). Being Pure Existence He has all possible perfections to an infinite degree. God, therefore, is Life Itself. This is because life is better than non-life. Having all possible perfections, God will always have what is greater rather than what is less. His is an infinitely intense Life of understanding and love. Now the nature of life is to be fruitful. God Himself must, therefore, be fruitful. Of course He is externally fruitful in that He has created. However, this creation was free. For anything God created, he could have created something different. He could just as well have chosen not to create at all. God, however, is also internally fruitful. This fruitfulness is necessary and not a result of His free will. This fruitfulness is as necessary as His being. It is infinite and identical with His life, as His life is identical with His being. The infinite perfection of God demands that His attributes are identical with each other and with His being. If this were not the case, to HAVE life or power as attributes distinct from Him would mean that He would depend on something which is not Himself for His perfections. Any sort of dependence would contradict absolute and infinite perfection. Being an infinite act of fruitfulness which God has and which is identical with God, that which is generated by Him is also infinite. God's fruitfulness must be infinite. That which is generated is His own Son (Jn 3:16). The Son is truly God because that which is generated, being total and infinite, cannot have anything lacking to it.

The specific act of generation of the Father is that of intellection. The Father generating the Son is the act of a thinker thinking a thought, the fathers say. This is because the highest kind of fruitfulness is that of intellection. Most fundamental to personality is the ability to know. God must be personal. This is because the personal is greater than the non-personal. Love is most ultimate, but knowledge is most fundamental and foundational because one cannot love what one does not know (teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas). That is why the Son is called the Word or Wisdom of God. He contains everything the Father knows as His one and infinite concept. The Son is Jesus Christ. The Son is Infinite Truth. This raises a question. If the Son is Truth, what is He a truth of? Truth must have some content. The Son is a truth of Love. The Son being God, must be Love, because God being infinite must be the greatest thing possible. St. John the Apostle said that "God is Love." (1 John 4:8) This is the ultimate truth of reality. It is that for the sake of which all other things exist. Jesus is Truth, but more ultimately, Jesus is Love. The love of Jesus is the truth content of Jesus.

The love of the Son is identical with Himself. This is based on the absolute simplicity of God. Love, however, is outgoing. It has a target. The love which the Son is, is love for the Father. The very essence of the Son is inclination to the Father. The Son is Pure Willing the Good of the Father and Pure Rejoicing in the Good of the Father. This is because the object of the Son's love, being infinitely perfect, must be the greatest thing possible. The Love which is the Son not only embraces the Father, but everything that the Father wills. The Son, therefore, is also love for each of us. The Father has everything the Son has because the Father is the source of the Son. The Father, therefore, is Love as well. The Love which the Father is, is love for the Son. He is Pure Willing the Good of the Son and is Pure Rejoicing in the Good of the Son. The Father is also love for us because His love not only embraces the Son, but all that the Son wills. Now this love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father is fruitful. This Love, One-for-the-other, is a Single Mutual Love, which "leaps forth" so that another person proceeds. This One-for-the-other Love, as proceeding, is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is infinite and lacks nothing. He is, therefore, is all knowing and all powerful. The Holy Spirit, Himself, is truly God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the Blessed Trinity.

** footnotes: The above is not an attempt to prove the Trinity from reason. This analysis could only be done after the fact of the Trinity being revealed by God. It is of Catholic Faith that the fact of the Trinity cannot be derived by reason, but must be revealed.

** It may be asked, if the Son and the Holy Spirit, being God, has all that the Father does, why would they not be fruitful in producing another person, since their essence is also Life? The answer to this is that since the Son and the Holy Spirit are infinite and total, along with the Father, they can only be distinguished from the Father and each other by their relations of origin. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit lack nothing which would enable them to be distinguished from one another on the basis of what they are. The Father is distinguished from the Son by the mere fact that the Father begets and the Son is begotten. The Holy Spirit is distinguished by the mere fact that He proceeds from the Father and the Son. Only the Father can generate because that is precisely what distinguishes Him in the Trinity. God-as-generating is the relation which is the Father. Since "what" the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are is identical, they are one God.

The above analysis was conducted to indicate that the form of all intelligibility and goodness, in creation, has its source within the Trinity which is necessarily intelligible and good to an infinite degree. The infinite intelligibility of God is based on the fact that He must be the way He is, and that He cannot be otherwise. Truth is a transcendental. This means that truth is an intrinsic property of being. Truth as an intrinsic property of being means that being is intelligible or understandable to an intellect. When we say that something is intelligible we mean that it "makes sense" or "is logical." A sudden grasp of the intelligibility of something is often expressed by the exclamation "ah-ha." When we grasp something as intelligible, we see with the eyes of the intellect that it has to be the way it is to be right. It is an intuition which transcends---step by step---reasoning. The opposite is something which makes no sense or what we would call "illogical." We can intuitively see that a senseless thing is out of place, and that its component parts do not constitute something meaningful. Now the Trinity is infinitely intelligible. The Trinity makes an infinite amount of sense, is infinitely necessary, and is infinitely "logical." The Trinity is the transcendental of truth to an infinite degree. The above analysis was a sketchy way of attempting to indicate this.

Goodness is also a transcendental. It is the nature of being as being to be good. Evil is a privation of some due good (i.e. the lack of sight in a man or the lack of moral goodness in a soul). If something is good it does not exist for itself alone, but is of service to other things and persons. In this, it is modeled on the love of the Trinity. Even if we cannot articulate it, we recognize evil as something awry, out of place, - as something which does not truly serve but subverts the whole ---as something inappropriate. The human body is good in its integrity because we can determine that every element in it, from the individual organs, to the individual cells, down to the biochemicals, serves the whole. We can see that some disease element, such as a tumor or a virus, is evil, because it does not serve the whole (Indeed, it may harm the whole). Similarly, society has the integrity of goodness if each member serves the whole or what is called the common good (even if this service is patiently accepting the will of God in complete disability). Society lacks the integrity of goodness if the members work to enrich themselves at the expense of the whole. Since social policy, in our Western nations today, is oriented to individuals enriching themselves at the expense of the whole, we live in a culture of death. Christians must work for a Culture of Life, where social policy is geared to individuals serving the whole. Social policy today is constructed so that the preference for the subjectively satisfying is facilitated. A culture of life would have social policy structured so that it facilitates the objectively important. A law which allows the killing of the unborn through abortion facilitates the self being served at the expense of the whole. A law which protects the unborn, by outlawing abortion, facilitates the individual serving the whole.

Now the Trinity is the source of all goodness. Ours is often a culture of death and evil to the extent that it has been separated from the source of all goodness which is God. The result is meaningless, despair, and ultimately violence in society. Integrity, goodness, and happiness will return to society when it is reunited with God. There is a deep philosophical connection between the transcendentals. Goodness is also truth. What is good and integral is also intelligible. Goodness makes sense to the human intellect as what ought to be the case. This is the basis of the human intellect's ability to understand the natural law which tells us what is right and what is wrong. Pride and concupiscence, which is the basis for one's preference for the subjectively satisfying, blinds the intellect so that it cannot see the natural law. The natural law is intelligible as such, but it would not be intelligible to an intellect which has been blinded by vice. Being caught in the subjective sphere, where self is the center of reality, blinds the intellect to objective reality. Love and reverence, which is the basis for one's preference for the objectively important, makes the natural law intelligible and eminently reasonable. Purity of heart is much more important for understanding reality rightly than natural intellectual gifts. There is a form of stupidity which is always associated with viciousness of heart, no matter how great the natural gifts. On the other hand, if someone is not particularly gifted, if his heart is good, he demonstrates a form of wisdom.

"All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) When Adam sinned by preferring self to God, we all inherited this original sin. In this we all merited eternal death. By suffering and dying on the Cross, Jesus Christ gave us all the chance to attain eternal life. We will attain it by accepting Him and His mercy and doing His will. Jesus gave us the fullness of truth and the fullness of the means of salvation to the Holy Roman Catholic Church which He founded. The Church teaches that "outside the Church there is no salvation." This does not mean that those who are not Catholics cannot be saved. It means that if someone who is not Catholic is saved, the means of salvation which exist within the Catholic Church are applied to him for his salvation. Conversely, if someone is Catholic and he does not make use of Her means of salvation, he will not be saved. Indeed, he will be more severely judged.

The fullness of God's revealed truth (public revelation) and means of salvation (priesthood and sacraments) exists within the Catholic Church alone. However, elements of truth and sanctification can be found outside of Her visible bounds. For example, most of the Protestant confessions hold Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If given the light they have, they correspond to the grace of Christ, they will be saved. However, there is a grave defect in Protestantism in that they do not recognize the ordained priesthood and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (which no Christian of note doubted for the first thousand years of Christianity). God's grace can even work in the adherents of other world religions. However, these religions have even more serious defects than Protestantism. If Christianity is true, the Islamic denial of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ cannot also be true. This is because Christianity and Islam contradict each other on this point. Similarly, if Christianity is true, the Buddhist's denial of the goodness of being cannot be true. This contradicts the Christian teaching that being is essentially good, and that evil is a privation of due good. It is possible for people of these religions to be saved, but they would be saved in spite of the teachings which contradict Christianity, not because of them.

One unique feature of the Catholic Faith is that it is the one which is fully intelligible, reasonable, logical, consistent, organic, and natural. This has its roots in the intelligibility, reasonableness, logic, consistency, organic nature, and naturalness of the Trinity. All other religions, more or less, have elements which are artificial or arbitrary. For example, let us examine the Protestant rejection of the Catholic honoring of the Virgin Mary. Now it is rational and reasonable that we honor our own mothers. We cannot simply make note of the fact that they gave us birth and then proceed to treat them with indifference. We cannot simply treat them as a tool to be discarded once they have performed their function. This is what most Protestants do with Mary. They maintain that her sole function was to give birth to Jesus and to raise him. They say that we are not to honor her or relate to her, but we are to "go to Jesus alone." If we are to always honor our own mothers (fourth commandment), how much more would Jesus continue to honor His mother, since she is the mother of a divine person. Jesus honors His mother, not simply because she is His, but because she is intrinsically honorable. Since Mary, being the mother of God, is intrinsically honorable, it is His will that we honor her as well, since He wishes us to live in accordance with the truth. In a life crisis, we as Christians would certainly pray to Jesus, but we would naturally ask our mothers to pray for us as well. Implicit in this is the understanding that our own prayers are not necessarily powerful enough, so we need help. For a similar reason, Catholics certainly go to Jesus, but it makes eminent sense for them to ask Mary to intercede as well. Mary's prayers are extraordinarily more powerful than those of any earthly mother. This is one example of how a given Catholic belief is reasonable and natural relative to a contradictory non-Catholic belief.

The Catholic Church is virtually the one entity on earth which defends the moral truth in its entirety. It does this in a sea of general moral breakdown in the world. Catholic moral teaching has been supernaturally revealed by God as binding on each human being. This moral truth is not a "Catholic thing" but is based on the very nature of man qua man. This moral truth is the law by which God has meant man to operate. However, even though it has been supernaturally revealed, much of this moral truth is intelligible and can be seen as true in the light of natural law by unaided reason. On a practical level, because the human intellect tends to be weak, it needs help. This is why that which can be seen by the light of natural law is also supernaturally revealed.

The greatest way in which the natural law is being violated today is in the legalization of abortion, and its widespread practice. Few things are more organic, natural, and intelligible as good, as mother with unborn child. I think it was the ancient Chinese who said that a pregnant woman is the essence of goodness. Nothing is as violent, arbitrary, and unnatural as taking a foreign instrument and destroying this mother-child bond through the killing of abortion. Such a thing should be obvious. Science has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that when conception occurs, a human being is created with its own genetic code and directional orientation to development to maturity. It is obvious simply by looking at the unborn child, in most of her stages of development, that she is human. It is also evident that abortion causes the woman immense harm on the physical, psychological, and spiritual levels. It is logical that the violent destruction of the mother-child bond, through induced abortion, would do this (this type of harm does not happen through spontaneous miscarriage). Many pro-abortionists argue that men should not concern themselves with the issue of abortion, since only woman bear children. The answer to that is that the unborn is not just the woman's child, but everyone's brother or sister in a common humanity. Everyone, therefore, should be concerned. That such a thing is legal in our society is incredible! It is only legal because large numbers of people in our society today are blinded by pride and concupiscence. They put selfish gain over the principles of goodness and justice. All Christians should pray for the conversion of the large numbers who are hard of heart.

Homosexuality has gained an acceptance which it did not have forty years ago. A while ago, an acquaintance of mine discussed this topic. He said: "that part is not supposed to go there." (I am paraphrasing. He used cruder terminology). He was not a practicing Christian, but he knew that from the design and function of the human body, homosexuality was neither right nor natural. He could see this in the light of natural law, apart from revelation. The vast majority could see this forty years ago. It is a straightforward and intelligible truth. Indoctrination of the general public, into erroneous philosophical ideas, by the mass media and public education has blinded many to this natural truth. The thinking is so twisted today that if you speak out against homosexuality they say that something is wrong with you. For those who oppose homosexuality they have fabricated the disorder of "homophobia."

God's law against premarital sex can also be seen in the light of natural law. A few decades ago, when a Christian world-view was predominate in our culture, most people adhered to God's law and waited until marriage to have sex. In this day and age, when Christian culture has been largely rejected, most people do not wait until marriage for sex. Much of the rejection of Christian culture has been caused by the academia. Although there can be a valid science of psychology, as psychology is taught today, it claims that all actions are motivated by some sort of personal gain - that we only do good to receive some benefit in return. It is not acknowledged that good can be done simply because it is good. All transcendence is denied with this. This is related to the practice of sex before marriage. In the modern anti-Christian secular humanist world view, one's partner is seen only as a means of procuring pleasure and happiness for the self. One enters into an exclusive romantic partnership as a form of a bargain, with each one hoping receive in gain something equivalent to or better than what one gives. That is not the Christian view at all. With a Christian mindset, one loves one's partner for his or her self. The partner is loved because he or she is intrinsically valuable and precious. The motive is not to gain for oneself, but to make the partner happy. Paradoxically, it is in this seeking of the happiness of the other which secures a genuine and profound happiness for the self. To seek happiness for the self, and to use others as a means to this, is to miss happiness. The most miserable people in the world are those who attempt to find happiness by using others as a mere means to that happiness. Similarly, God's commandment that sex must be reserved for marriage is based on the fact that sex is a sign of one's commitment to the other and a sign of genuine love for the other that has declared publicly that one will stay with the other until death do them part. Sex outside of marriage declares that one loves the other only as long as one receives the desired benefits. This is because sex is not performed within the context of a life long commitment, but within the context of fond feelings. Feelings come and go, while a commitment is permanent. When sexual activity is motivated by fond feeling alone, one is saying that the partner is a mere means for personal gain. When one has sex in the context of commitment, one would be saying that the partner is valuable for his or her own sake.

The evil of contraception can be understood by natural law as well. Contraception is the deliberate insertion of a dysfunction into the human body (the pill) or the sexual act itself (the condom) to avoid conception. The evil of contraception is primarily ontological. In contraception that which is eminently personal is being disrupted in its integrity (this is why natural forms of birth control, when used appropriately, are not wrong). The personal transcends the non-personal. It is permissible to manipulate the non-personal, within bounds, for human advantage (such as the cutting of trees or the killing of animals for human consumption). However, it is not permissible to do this sort of thing with the human person. While the non-personal is a means, the personal is an end in itself. The personal has a sanctity or a dignity so that it is wrong to treat it as a mere means. The integrity of the personal sphere must never be disrupted for personal advantage. this is because the personal is that for the sake that other things exist. This is exactly what contraception does. It causes a dysfunction in the personal sphere for personal advantage. Therefore, it treats the personal sphere as a mere means to be disposed of as one pleases. That is why contraception is evil.
** footnote - legitimate medical procedures that disrupt the body (such as the amputation of a limb or the removal of an organ) are not wrong because it is done to facilitate the integrity of the whole which would otherwise suffer. They are not done merely to procure a subjective pleasure advantage.

There is a connection between contraception and euthanasia. With euthanasia the personal sphere is also treated as a mere means. It could be the means to pleasure, power, status, or possessions. If this is the case, when a human being is deemed unfit to procure these advantages, the euthanasia mindset says that that human being must die. The euthanasia mindset also fails to see that the personal is an end in itself. Like the contraceptive mindset, the euthanasia mindset declares that what is personal is to be disposed of for selfish gain. The abortion mindset says the same thing. This euthanasia mindset is also present in those who would mistreat a person, if that person cannot procure some advantage for them, or if that person stands in the way of their own selfish advantage. Many of these adult bullies are around today. With the personal, there is a dignity and a sanctity with the personal sphere in which a certain reverent distance must be maintained. This is the exact opposite of treating what is personal as something to be "consumed." God has endowed each person's life with profound meaning and purpose. This applies to the most disabled. Extreme disability or suffering can profoundly purify a soul. This, however, would be meaningless those who see a person's ability to produce goods rather than seeing personal goodness as important. Disability and suffering can also train caregivers in great virtue. The actions of caregivers also serves as an example to other people as to how others are to be treated. Mother Teresa was a profound example of how to love one's neighbor.

Apart from Revelation, it is difficult to find a direct proof from natural law for the inviolability, sanctity, and dignity of the human person. This is because what is readily visible is the human person as that which procures pleasure, power, or possessions for society. Many people, seeing only these visible aspects believes that this is the purpose of human life. True love and reverence opens the eyes to the intrinsic value of the human person. Pride and concupiscence, on the other hand, causes blindness in this sphere. Many in our society are not esteemed as valuable if they do not produce for society. However, an indirect rational proof for the intrinsic value of human life can be given. We can do this by looking at the consequences of denying it. We can study communism as it existed in the former Soviet Union. Countless millions were killed, enslaved, or unjustly imprisoned under this regime. It's basic premise was that the human individual was simply a means for the machinery of the state. The human person was not recognized as having value in his or her own right. The horrors of the Soviet system flowed from this. Much of Nazi Germany was based on the eugenics movements of the early twentieth century. In this, the human person is not an end, in which a reverent distance must be maintained, but a mere means - that is, as something to be improved for the sake of society so that he can be a more efficient instrument for society. Nazi Germany followed this idea by killing all who were "unfit." When man is seen as a mere means, it begs the question: a means for whom? The answer would always be that he is a means for the strong - that is, a means for those who have the power to impose their will. Justice and goodness can only have a foundation in the recognition of the intrinsic value of the human person. In this, one is given one's due simply because it is one's due based on a fundamental sanctity of human life.

Divine justice is also organic and natural, rather than arbitrary and artificial. God does not set such-and-such a standard, and if we fail to live up to this standard He condemns us. It is not like that at all. Hell, rather, is the natural consequence of one's option for evil. When mortal sin is committed, something seriously wrong is chosen for selfish advantage. Taking someone's life because you want his property is an example. More common, is modern idolatry where God and His law are ignored for selfish advantage. This act of choosing a serious evil causes a hideous deformity to appear in the soul. A deformed act of will causes a deformed state of soul. This is a natural cause and effect link. Now the grace of God is completely incompatible with this deformity, so that when this deformity appears God's grace must depart. Mortal sin and God's grace are contradictory so it is impossible for them to be simultaneous. If a soul dies unrepentant - that is, if the soul dies with this horrible deformity and without God's grace, it enters eternity without the friendship of God. This eternal state of being without the friendship of God is hell. Hell is eternal because after death, the core of one's being enters a state of timelessness. After death, therefore, one is fixed in either good or evil. In Hell, God inflicts nothing. Hell is intense suffering because it is the absence of God who is infinite happiness, and it is the absence of God's ordering power which gives peace and repose. Hell is just because it is based on the soul's willingness to reject God.

Heaven is the natural result of choosing the will of God over self. When self is emptied (in humility and self giving charity), God has room to enter. When God indwells a soul He brings order to it. A soul with God has peace. When a soul enters eternity in this state, the happiness which is given is infinite. God is an infinitely simple principle who perfectly harmonizes and unites everything in heaven around Him. Happiness is the abiding in harmony and unity. In hell, rather than everything being harmonized, everything acts independently. Each person, and each faculty within each person vies for supremacy. The result is unending conflict and torment. This is the end result of attempting to be one's own god. The forces of liberalism in society, which turns authentic freedom under law into arbitrary license, is creating hell on earth. The attraction of liberalism is an apparent freedom from constraint. However, it is a refusal to act in accordance with natural and divine law which brings harmony and happiness. Pride and concupiscence motivates this. Instead of freedom, it brings slavery to the lower forces of our nature. Union with God does not take away our freedom, but makes us eminently free. This is because in being united with God we are united with the very cause of our being and action. We can see that the justice of God is natural rather than artificial.


In this last section we will discuss the nature of suffering and God's permission of it. God's permission for suffering also is natural and organic, rather than artificial and arbitrary. Anger directing at God for the permitting of suffering is unjustified since God has eminently logical reasons for it. It says in My Imitation of Christ: " Indeed if there had been anything better and more beneficial to man's salvation than suffering, Christ certainly would have showed it by word or example." (Book II, Chapter 12). Although suffering is a mystery in this life, we can gain some insight into the reasons for it and the supreme value that God holds for it. C.S. Lewis said in his book The Problem of Pain says that suffering is the one thing we cannot ignore. Suffering is the one thing which we must take seriously when we are experiencing it. This is part of the essence of suffering. The deeper suffering is, the more seriously we must take it. Because of its unique effect of being taken seriously, it has a unique ability to affect us and change us. When sin is experienced as suffering we are much more motivated to get rid of that sin. Suffering, by its very nature, contradicts the pleasure which is at the root of pride and concupiscence. It, therefore, has the power to dissolve pride and concupiscence like nothing else. Since we are all part of a fallen race, we all have some degree of pride and concupiscence, therefore, we all require suffering. Of course there is a deeper dimension to the value of suffering which has been recognized by all the saints. It unites us to Christ suffering on the Cross, so that we can share in his Resurrection. In uniting our sufferings to Christ's, we participate in his work of redemption, and therefore, assist him in the salvation of souls. Being God, Christ has no absolute need for us. However, He has willed that we be useful in His plan of salvation.

It is God's will that our activity in heaven be modeled on the activity within the Blessed Trinity. God's activity is a tripolar current of life, truth, and love which flows continuously between the persons of the Trinity. What each person receives is immediately offered up to the other two. There is no self sufficient self in the Trinity which halts and absorbs the flow of the goodness of God. The life of God is the ecstasy of transcendence. It is the willing and beholding of the goodness of the OTHER. Similarly, our life in heaven will be a willing and beholding of the goodness of the other. In heaven we will fully understand others as important in themselves, and not at all as a mere means for personal advantage. To see the superiority of others will not cause envy, but inconceivable joy. This is the complete opposite of the envy of socialism and radical feminism. We do not have this attitude in its full purity on earth. We are all, to some degree, subject to pride and concupiscence, which is the result of original and personal sin. We are all, to some degree, caught in the sphere, where we see ourselves as the center. The experience of the Apostles on mount Tabor could not last because they were, to a degree, caught in the sphere. When Peter said how good it was to be with Jesus in His transfiguration, there was an attachment to personal joy. For Peter to be liberated from this attachment, and to be liberated from the sphere completely, so that his response to goodness would be utterly pure and unattached (which is only possible in heaven), he had to go through the scandal of the Cross and the suffering of his martyrdom. It is the same with us.

Another way of looking at evil and disorder in the world is that God does not will it directly. Many people ask why God does not stop wars, famines, natural disasters, etc. Many people ask the same question about the disorders in our personal lives. The answer to that is that God's light and love are always shining with an infinite brightness on any situation. The fault for a disordered system is not God's but simply that a disordered system is by its very nature resistant to the harmonizing light of God. Look at a chaotic system such as a riot. Even though God is omnipresent, the dynamics of the system repulses the light of God by its very nature. In it is an incompatibility with the light of God. It would be the same with economic unrest or unrest within an individual. Of course God is omnipotent and He can bring stillness to any chaotic system. The calming of the storm by Jesus, when the disciples were in the boat, is an example. However, to do this he has to override nature. Overriding nature has to be the exception, rather than the rule, because if it were the rule then the nature of nature, with its distinct function and laws, would cease to have meaning. It is through the distinct function of nature that God fulfills much of his will in nature. For example, if God were to continuously override the nature of a man, so that he was constantly acting like some other thing, that man would cease to have the dignity he is supposed to have as his nature as a man. The dignity that things have and the respect that God has for them, it based on the fact that it is the norm that they act in accordance with their nature, and that exceptions to this are rare. It is simply this respect that God has for the nature of nature that evil is allowed to flourish given that man sins and refuses God's will. Evil, however, does not have the last word. As St. Augustine says, God only permits evil to draw a greater good from it in the end. From the above, we can see that God's permission for evil is logical, and in accordance with intelligent providence, rather than arbitrary and without proper reason.