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Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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CHRISTIAN LAW

The revealed precepts of the New Testament. There is a sense in which the Christian dispensation superseded the laws of earlier revelation, since the ceremonial and judicial practices of the Israelites have ceased to be binding on the followers of Christ. Also the moral code of pre-Christian Judaism has been greatly elevated. But all of this, as Christ was careful to explain, does not mean that he came to "abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved" (Matthew 5:17-18).

What Christ wished to make clear is that the morality of the New Law of the Kingdom is higher and more spiritual than that of the Old Law, especially as interpreted by the scribes and Pharisees. Above all, it is new because it is based on the example and teaching of God in human form. And it is new in the exalted demand that the law of Christ makes on human generosity in the practice of charity.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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