The Foundation Of Western Culture: The Freedom And Dignity Of Man As Found In The Catholic Tradition
1700 The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son1 to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.
1701 "Christ, . . . in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation."2 It is in Christ, "the image of the invisible God,"3 that man has been created "in the image and likeness" of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God.4
1702 The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons (this is why societies built upon agreement, as expressed in Laws, arrived at through a process of Reason, are predominant, active, and Creative), in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves (cf. chapter two).
1703 Endowed with "a spiritual and immortal" soul,5 the human person is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake. (The Human Being is sufficient, in himself, for any task. His will is not dependent upon the whims of Fate, or the whims of Nature.)"6 From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude.
1704 The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator (Reason is predominant in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, whereas, in Islam, God is not Imminent, or Present with us, but is instead, Exobiotic, or Above All and Beyond All, and therefore, not accessible through Reason ).
By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection "in seeking and loving what is true and good."7
1705 By virtue of his soul and his spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an "outstanding manifestation of the divine image."8
1706 By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God (what non-believers might call consciousness of Natural Law) which urges him "to do what is good and avoid what is evil."9
Everyone (including Kings and Rulers of various types) is obliged to follow this law, which makes itself heard in conscience and is fulfilled in the love of God and of neighbor. Living a moral life bears witness to the dignity of the person.
1707 "Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his freedom at the very beginning of history."10 He succumbed to temptation and did what was evil. He still desires the good, but his nature bears the wound of original sin. He is now inclined to evil and subject to error:
- Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.11
1708 By his Passion, Christ delivered us from Satan and from sin. He merited for us the new life in the Holy Spirit. His grace restores what sin had damaged in us.
1709 He who believes in Christ becomes a son of God. This filial adoption transforms him by giving him the ability to follow the example of Christ. It makes him capable of acting rightly and doing good. In union with his Savior, the disciple attains the perfection of charity which is holiness. Having matured in grace, the moral life blossoms into eternal life in the glory of heaven.
1711 Endowed with a spiritual soul, with intellect and with free will, the human person is from his very conception ordered to God and destined for eternal beatitude. He pursues his perfection in "seeking and loving what is true and good" (GS 15 § 2).
1714 Man, having been wounded in his nature by original sin, is subject to error and inclined to evil in exercising his freedom (and is, therefore, not strong in an of himself, but finds his strength through a Reasoning process in which he participates with others, and with the great works - the Canonical works - of his civilization).
I'm sure those who are Catholic (I am not) will find much to correct in my interpretation of the Catechism. I am only offering this as the beginning of a discussion, and as an attempt to find the roots, the foundation of our Civilization.