Dipping into the Catechism 46
God’s salvation: Law and Grace
THE MORAL LAW
What is the moral law?
The moral law is a work of divine Wisdom. It prescribes the ways and the rules of conduct
that lead to the promised beatitude and it forbids the ways that turn away from God.
In what does the natural moral law consist?
The natural law which is inscribed by the Creator on the heart of every person consists in a
participation in the wisdom and the goodness of God. It expresses that original moral sense
which enables one to discern by reason the good and the bad. It is universal and immutable
and determines the basis of the duties and fundamental rights of the person as well as those of
the human community and civil law.
Is such a law perceived by everyone?
Because of sin the natural law is not always perceived nor is it recognised by everyone with
equal clarity and immediacy.
What is the relationship between the natural law and the Old Law?
The Old Law is the first stage of revealed Law. It expresses many truths naturally accessible to reason and which are thus affirmed and authenticated in the covenant of salvation. Its moral
prescriptions, which are summed up in the Ten Commandments of the Decalogue, lay the
foundations of the human vocation, prohibit what is contrary to the love of God and
neighbour, and prescribe what is essential to it.
What place does the Old Law have in the plan of salvation?
The Old Law permitted one to know many truths which are accessible to reason, showed
what must or must not be done and, above all, like a wise tutor, prepared and disposed one
for conversion and for the acceptance of the Gospel. However, while being holy, spiritual,
and good, the Old Law was still imperfect because in itself it did not give the strength and the
grace of the Spirit for its observance.
For this reason God “wrote on the tables of the Law what men did not read in their hearts”
What is the New Law or the Law of the Gospel?
The New Law or the Law of the Gospel, proclaimed and fulfilled by Christ, is the fullness
and completion of the divine law, natural and revealed. It is summed up in the
commandment to love God and neighbour and to love one another as Christ loved us. It is
also an interior reality: the grace of the Holy Spirit which makes possible such love. It is “the
law of freedom” (Galatians 1:25) because it inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting
Where does one find the New Law?
The New Law is found in the entire life and preaching of Christ and in the moral catechesis
(teaching) of the Apostles. The Sermon on the Mount is its principal expression. (Matthew
chapters 5, 6 and 7).