Finis operis is a traditional Latin expression signifying the end, object, or good immanent in an act to which it tends by the interior dynamism of its very being (ontologically, essentially, and necessarily), prescinding from the subjective motives of the agent of the act, or of any particular circumstances under which it is performed. The end specifies the very being and substance (inner construction) of the act.
The finis operis of a human act serves as the invariable basis for the consideration of any other aspect of its morality. The act of justice is ordered to give to others that which is their due; the marital act is essentially constituted by the end to which the natural physiological act is directed [cf. Pius XII, Address to Midwives, Oct. 29, 1951, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 43 (1951) 835–854; L. Lochet, "Les Fins du mariage," Nouvelle revue théologique 73 (1951) 449–465].
The finis operis of the divine act of creation is the communication of divine goodness to creatures, whereby each creature by reason of its nature mirrors the divine perfections according to the degree of its participation in divine goodness. Intellectual creatures by their love and praise of the divine goodness attain their own beatitude, which is the secondary end (finis operis ) of their creation. In reality, however, the primary and secondary ends are identical, for the intellectual creature's own beatitude is the attainment of the intrinsic essential divine goodness known and loved in the beatific vision.
See Also: finis operantis; end; final causality.
Bibliography: Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–), Tables générales 1:1522–26. w. kern, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 4:139–140. c. schahl, La Doctrine des fins du mariage dans le théologie scolastique (Paris 1948).
[m. r. e. masterman]