Map of Life - Lesson 10


Map of Life: Chp 10 Law & Suffering

Map of Life: Contents
Catechsim Series 1: 
Catechism Series 2: 
Aquinas 101: 
Summa Theologica: IaQ48a1
Companion to the Summa: 
Random articles: Catholic Encyclopedia: Evil

Ite Missa Est: 


Law & Suffering

  1. Recap:

    Introduction: Just as we need a geographical map to know where we are, and how to get to where we want to go in the world, we also need a map of life to know where we are in relation to everything else in life, and how to get to our ultimate goal in life. This map of life is given to us by God through Divine Revelation which is preserved, interpreted and transmitted through the Catholic Church.

    Chapter 1:  Just as we must have faith in the geographical map-maker at the start of a journey, we must have faith in life's map-maker at the start of our journey through life. The map of life tells us

          (a) what man is (a creature composed of body and soul, in the image and likeness of God by the possession of an intellect and a will),

          (b) where he is destined (his finality: supernatural union with God).

    Chapter 2:  We also need an law of life so that we might attain the goal indicated on the map of life. This law comprises the physical law (for all material creatures) and the spiritual law (for intelligent creatures). Some spiritual laws are natural to man (eg. the ten commandments), some are divinely revealed in Scripture or Tradition (e.g. the laws of the sacraments). Some spiritual laws form the basis of man-made laws such as canon laws or civil laws. 

    Chapter 3: The "X" that marks the spot on the map of life is heaven, where our highest faculties (intellect and will) are perfected by a perfect knowledge and love of God, which is only possible with supernatural grace (also called supernatural life, sanctifyfing grace and habitual grace).

    Chapter 4: Adam was created with the means of attaining heaven, but lost supernatural grace, virtues and gifts when he committed the sin of disobedience. It was the first sin of the first man and condemned humanity to a fallen state whereby every man was henceforth conceived in the state of Original Sin. The map of life became blurred to humanity, the path was either lost or impassible, and "X" was unattainable without supernatural help.

    Chapter 5: God then entered into His creation so that man might (a) know the truth about God, and (b) know the law by which he might attain God, and (c) be sanctified by the supernatural life necessary for union with God. He enacted the objective redemption by which the gates of heaven were opened once again.

    Chapter 6: The Catholic Church was founded by Christ to continue His mission after he had ascended into heaven. It's mission is to teach the truth, uphold the law (both natural and divine), and sanctify souls by the sacraments. Like a living being comprising body and soul, the Church has physical body which is its human hierarchy of members on earth, and a spiritual soul which is the Mystical Body of Christ (or some say that the soul of the Church is the Holy Ghost, but this is a matter of attribution). A soul must be a spiritually living member of the Church to benefit from the Redemptive work of Christ.

    Chapter 7: Christ established the Church to teach, govern and sanctify. In its teaching office it teaches with God's authority and has the protection of God so that it will never teach error. We say that the Church teaches infallibly. The official teaching of the Church is expressed in official documents which are known as Acts of the Magisterium. A Catholic assents to the truth of the Teaching Church, not because he agrees, or it seems reasonable, but because it is backed by the authority of God.

    Chapter 8: In the Church's teachings there are many mysteries which are truths about which we cannot know everything. This is because God cannot be entirely known by the finite intelligence of creatures. God reveals mysteries about Himself so that we may know Him better by discovering all the knowable truth in each mystery. The greatest mystery revealed by God is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity by which we may discern the three Persons of the Godhead eternally knowing and loving each other.

    Chapter 10: God's Law is found in men's heart by nature and is deduced by reason (Natural Law), and it revealed to man by Divine Revelation (Divine Law). Natural Law is necessary for man's natural perfection. Natural Law and Divine Law are necessary for man's supernatural perfection. Conscience is the judgement of a practical act here and now against the moral law. Conscience needs to be informed by the natural and divine law. Man is only free if he follows God's law.

  2. Evil

    Definition of evil: Evil is the privation of good.

    Evil, in a large sense, may be described as the sum of the opposition, which experience shows to exist in the universe, to the desires and needs of individuals; whence arises, among human beings at least, the sufferings in which life abounds. (CatEnc)

    One opposite is known through the other, as darkness is known through light. Hence also what evil is must be known from the nature of good. Now, we have said above that good is everything appetible; and thus, since every nature desires its own being and its own perfection, it must be said also that the being and the perfection of any nature is good. Hence it cannot be that evil signifies being, or any form or nature. Therefore it must be that by the name of evil is signified the absence of good. And this is what is meant by saying that "evil is neither a being nor a good." For since being, as such, is good, the absence of one implies the absence of the other. (IaQ48a1)

    Division of evil in an individual: 

    (i) Physical evil:

    - due to a disorder in nature: sickness, accident, death;

    - due to a disorder in society: poverty, oppression, disease etc.

    (ii) Moral evil: due to departure from God's law;

  3. Suffering

    Definition of Suffering: The sensation or emotion that results from evil.

    Division of suffering:

    - Physical pain

    - Mental pain: depression, anxiety, fear, remorse etc.

  4. Suffering and law

    A man will only reach the perfection of eternal life by following God's laws which He has made for our perfection.

    As a result of Original Sin, however, following God's laws (moral laws) can involve suffering. For example, obeying the natural laws of the ten commandments; fidelity to duties of state as husband, wife, religious, soldier etc.; obeying the divine laws of charity and the sacraments; obeying the laws of the Church such as fasting & abstinence, and other religious duties.

    Suffering is not willed by God in itself, just as the adverse side effects of medicine are not willed by a doctor.

    Suffering is the effect of an evil (a disorder), which can be evil or good for man.

  5. Suffering as an evil

    Suffering is a consequence of evil (a disorder), it is not evil in itself, but is evil when it contributes to further disorder (e.g. when it stops you praying or working or fulfilling some other duty). This sort of suffering must be avoided.

  6. Suffering as a good

    Involuntary suffering is natural and good when it alerts us to danger (e.g. a hot saucepan), or a need (e.g. thirst, hunger, loneliness). We should seek to remove this suffering for out good

    Voluntary suffering can embraced for a greater good.  For example, an athlete must endure the suffering of fatigue (fatigue is an evil) if he is to improve his performance. He doesn't desire fatigue, he desires performance.

    Voluntary suffering must be embraced for a our supernatural good. A Christian must embrace suffering, not for its own sake or from hatred of body (eg. the Gnostics), but to:

    (i) expiate his sins,

    (ii) to grow in virtue (ie. self conquest to increase his performance as a human being and as a saint), and 

    (iii) to configure himself to Christ.

  7. The Church and suffering

    The Church is the guardian of God's laws (as teacher and governor), and while it might seem easier for the Church to relax God's laws to make them easier to follow (to reduce suffering), only God has the power to change His laws.

    Attempting to relax God's laws is harmful because it prevents a soul from reaching its natural and supernatural perfection. It is a regrettable tendency of the Conciliar Church to effectively dilute God's laws by its effective acceptance of contraception, divorce by "annulment", homosexuality, false ecumenism, sex education, feminism etc.. In acting thus, it fails in its mission.