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A lover of the liberal arts, especially antiquity in its diverse forms, I am nonetheless wholly devoted to, utterly transformed by divine revelation. I seek to know the thought of the past, articulate my deepest longings aroused by the wise, and understand the uneasy relationship between reason and revelation; all for the sake of proper action and contemplation, both now and in the future.


Method and Spirit for Studying the Code of Canon Law

After the initial excitement wore off, I began to fear I would hate canon law. For one who adores the powerful, polyphonic harmonies of the Gregorian Rite and the endless ritual precision it requires, not to mention the pulsing, silent Roman discipline, I surprised myself. My suspicion was similar to my misgivings concerning civil lawyers and the practice of moral theologians I have experienced; civil lawyers use the law to serve injustice, moral theologians (so it often seems) say that sin is no sin, and I feared that canon lawyers would use the Code to serve sin, not the good of souls. 

I still have my misgivings, but they have lessened and may lessen further. That some canon lawyers do treat the law this way does not mean canon law itself must inherently tend towards encouraging sin (duh). Even I can recognize that. At any rate, I resolved (obviously) that I would not use it that way. Further, in writing canon law briefs, I must admit that the requirement - explain what the law says to this case - can be, and usually is, quite delightful, because it encourages one of my burgeoning talents: to discuss something dispassionately and seek the truth alone. Omit unnecessary words, as Strunk would say. Be concise, even elliptical - but crystal clear. I admit: I like that. I like it a lot. Simplicity and clarity is what I strive for in all writing, and it never seems to be as effortless as when I am writing a canon law brief.

Still, I am a man, not a machine (would a robot be the best canon lawyer of all? Or would human talents like imagination still be necessary to render a good judgment?), so I must have a motivation, which cannot be the intent to make evil seem licit. Obviously the solution is simple (and obviously it took me until last fortnight to see it): pastoral zeal is the motivation; the good of souls, which is salvation. Happily, I discovered that the very last canon in the Code (canon 1752, if you're interested) states this plainly: Prae oculis habita salute animarum, quae in Ecclesia suprema semper lex esse debet. The salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church; it is the form of canon law, it is its soul. So in all of my judgments, practiced in class and then (God willing) in the midst of and for the Mystical Body of Christ, I will be in service to this beautiful principle. This reinforces one of my most powerful longings - service to a beautiful cause that is greater than me - so I am satisfied. Bonum est!

Everything becomes more and more simple. Obedience. Simplicity. Trust. Sacrifice. All for the Beautiful.

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