In today’s very individualistic culture the question of authority, and particularly who exercises and from where it comes, is quite controversial. The roots of individualism which began largely with the nominalism of William of Ockham (Occam) and developed more fully by Immanuel Kant and then the Existentialists, has flowered tremendously in the modern era which is largely devoted to the seeking of individual pleasure. Catch phrases such as, “If it feels good do it,” and “The greatest good for the greatest number of people,” and “Avoid suffering at ALL costs,” as well as many others all point to a culture one of whose primary concerns is the finding and enjoyment of pleasure.

While this is not necessarily a bad thing if it is done with the overall common good of humanity as a first principle, the reality is that this is not the case. Our culture has been overcome by individuals seeking their own pleasure with little if any regard for the wellbeing of others. This is a recipe for disaster. Human beings are fundamentally communal beings, that is, we cannot continue to exist on our own as individuals. We need one another and thus we have responsibilities towards one another, not just individual human rights that feature so prominently in today’s world.

When there are responsibilities there must be laws governing human actions. Where there are laws there is authority. Ultimately it can be demonstrated that all authority rests in God and has been delegated to the rightful people to exercise it. Thus there is authority in the Church and there are those who exercise authority in the secular world under the headings of legislative, executive and judicial.

As Catholics we live under the authority of the Church’s Magisterium as exercised by the Pope and the Bishops and those to whom it is delegated by them. The Magisterium provides us with the Church’s moral teachings and thus guides our actions in the way of Gospel truth and values Left to our own devices we will be easy prey to the current trends and fads of the philosophical and pleasure seeking doctrines of our day. If we are willing to submit our lives to the truth, we will led and guided in the way of truth and holiness and live a far better and more fulfilling human existence. It is not the amount of pleasure or pain or suffering that will determine the worth of our lives but the degree to which we place our lives under the authority of the truth.

What is the ‘measure’ I use to determine right or wrong when making moral decisions? Have I made the proper effort to know what the Church’s moral teachings are regarding the issues relevant to my life.

Holy Spirit, it is difficult today to know and do the right thing. Help me to understand the truth and to place my life under the authority of the truth and the Gospel so that I will be lead in the path of both a fulfilling and eternal life.