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Moral Good, the Beatific Vision, and God’s Kingdom

Writings by Germain Grisez and Peter Ryan, S.J.

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Edited By Peter J. Weigel

For close to half a century, the work of Germain Grisez has been highly influential, and his writings continue to receive considerable attention from philosophers and theologians of diverse viewpoints. His co-author for this work is the professor and noted moral theologian Fr. Peter Ryan, S.J., currently the executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). These two eminent scholars explore fundamental questions about Christian eschatology, moral theory, the purpose of human life, and the promise of human fulfilment. The authors examine Christian teaching on the final destiny of persons, investigating the meaning of God’s kingdom, the hope of the beatific vision, and the centrality of moral goodness and divine grace in one’s final end. This work is an ideal source for students, scholars, ministers and lay persons interested in basic questions of Christian theology, the philosophy of religion, ethical theory, and Catholic doctrine.
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Man, the Natural End of

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GERMAIN GRISEZ

End here means purpose or objective, not extinction or last state; thus *end of man means the general objective of human action or the final purpose of life. Catholics believe that besides the natural reality God has given human beings through creation, He has offered them the further gift of a share of His own life. God gives this special gift within the soul by *grace. God is not only the source but also the end of the life of grace; its consummation is the soul’s enjoyment of God’s goodness in union with Him in heavenly beatitude, the *beatific vision. Hence the end that Catholic faith indicates is above human *nature. The achievement of this end transcends every ability naturally inherent in man, and the entire life of grace is *supernatural. Because the end of Christian life is supernatural, Catholic thinkers have wondered about the natural end of man. The problem is important for two reasons: (1) If God had created man without giving him grace, would there have been any end for human life proportionate to man’s abilities? (2) Since grace does not abridge what belongs to the natural reality of man, is there an end implicitly required by human nature that might help even Christians to direct their lives? This article presents a historical introduction to the problem, a summary of the state of the question among contemporary Catholic thinkers, and some suggestions for its resolution.

Historical Introduction

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