Throwing Down a Little Canon Law at Home


They’re cute. They’re clever. And they’ll argue ’til kingdom comes.

That would be children in general.

In the very cute and very convincing face of opposition that has energy and sleep on its side, moms sometimes need a little interior encouragement to stick with unpopular decisions.

Enter the Regulae Iuris, a list of general rules regarding interpretation of law that were incorporated into canon law in the twelfth century. I was introduced to these gems by my husband’s colleague, also a canon lawyer and dad, who often quotes these to his children. Below are a few of my favorites for family life.

Canon_Episcopi_Hs119 (1)14

For when it’s time to go anywhere:

#25. Mora sua cuilibet nociva est. Who delays harms himself.

For the bossy sibling:

#29. Quod omnes tangit debet ab omnibus probari. What concerns all must be approved by all.

When Mom got everyone ice cream on the drive home because the baby wouldn’t stop crying…in the morning:

#78. In argumentum trahi nequeunt quae propter necessitatem aliquando sunt concessa. When a concession is made out of necessity it cannot serve as a legitimate precedent.

Don’t make me put my mama face on:

#82. Qui contra ius mercatur bonam fidem praesumitur non habere. Those who bargain against the law are presumed to lack good faith.

On tough love:

#86. Damnum quod quis sua culpa sentit sibi debet non aliis imputare. If someone does wrong, he should blame himself for the harm that he suffers.

And at bedtime (like when the three-year-old after being told to get in bed is found later to be in bed…standing up):

#88. Certum est quod is committit in lege, qui legis verbum complectens, contra legis nititur voluntatem. Those who comply with the letter of the law but against the intention of the law, are really against the law.

Here’s to hoping that a little canon law at home will go a long way toward combating the cute and determined!

“A society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition to love.” -Pope Benedict XVI, Letter to Seminarians, 2010


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  1. Flávia Ghelardi on

    Thank you for the inspiration! Here is a house of lawyers and we´d never thought about that before…

    • I’m sure you and your husband have lots more law to add to the above! My brother’s a lawyer, and he and his oldest daughter used to have little disputes, which usually ended with my brother declaring, “Guilty!” 😉

  2. Let’s see if my children who have been taking Latin for a couple of years can figure out what I am saying (and if I am pronouncing it correctly too).

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