principles of christian morality
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DESCRIPTIONPrinciples of Christian Morality
Life in Christ Principles for Christian MoralityCatechism of the Catholic ChurchPart III Articles 1691 - 1876Stephen M. Matuszak, S.T.L. All rights reserved.
Morality is not simply following rules, but living fully the new life of grace:Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in Gods own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that your have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God. ~ St. Leo the Great (#1691)
It is the following of Jesus ChristChrist Jesus always did what was pleasing to the Father and always lived in perfect communion with Him. Likewise Christs disciples are invited to live in the sight of the Father who sees in secret, in order to become perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. (#1693)
Living the New Life of GraceIncorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord. Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the mind which is yours in Christ Jesus, and by following his example.(#1694)
The Two ways (see Psalm 1)The way of Christ leads to life; there is also a contrary way that leads to destructionToday the Church speaks of a culture of life and a culture of death; the choice is clear!The Gospel parable of the two ways remains ever present in the catechesis of the Church (cf. Deut. 30: 15-20; Psalm 1: 1, 4; Mt. 7: 13).Catechesis has to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ.
Catechesis for the newness of life in Christ should be a catechesis of: The Holy Spirit, who is the interior Master of life;Grace, for it is by grace that we are saved;The beatitudes, for the way of Christ is summed up in them, they articulate the path to eternal happiness which we desire and were created for by God;Sin and forgiveness, for unless we acknowledge that we are sinners, we cannot know the truth about ourselves; we must forgive others as God forgives us;The theological virtues of faith, hope and love inspired by the example of the saints & the moral virtues;The twofold commandment of charity; An ecclesial catechesis in the communion of saints.
Section I: Mans Vocation Life in the SpiritChapter I the Dignity of the Human PersonHuman dignity is rooted in our creation in the image and likeness of God;It is reflected in our vocation to divine beatitude;It is essential for human fulfillment;Allows for free & deliberate human action;Conforms to the true good attested to by moral conscience;Guides the passions toward growth & fulfillment;With the help of grace, it leads to virtue;It teaches us to avoid sin and live in Gods mercy.
Eight Foundational Elements/Articles:Man is created in the image of GodWe are created for beatitude / happinessWe are endowed by God with true freedomThree elements of the morality of human actsThe role and morality of human passionsMoral conscience and its formationThe importance of the virtuesThe mystery of sin and greatness of Gods mercy
Art. 1: Man, The Image of GodIt is in Christ that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty & ennobled by grace. (See G.S. 22)The divine image is present in every person and shines forth in the communion of persons.By virtue of his rational soul, man is endowed with freedom which is an expression of the divine image.Through reason, man recognizes the voice of God directing our actions through conscience.Man abused his freedom at the beginning of history.We are transformed by filial adoption, to follow Christ.
Art. 2: Our Vocation to BeatitudeThe desire for happiness (beatitudo) lies in the heart of every human person.The beatitudes take up Gods promises to Abraham and the chosen people by ordering them to fulfillment in the kingdom of heaven.They depict the countenance of Jesus and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with his Passion & Resurrection and shed light on actions & attitudes in living the Christian life.
The BeatitudesBlessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted.Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justiceBlessed are the mercifulBlessed are the pure of heart Blessed are the peacemakers Blessed are those who are persecuted Blessed are you when men revile you for your reward is great in heaven.
All human beings seek happinessGod has placed the desire for happiness in the heart of every person in order to draw men to Himself God alone can fulfill it.All men want to live happily. In the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition. (St. Augustine)God alone satisfies (St. Thomas Aquinas)God calls us to His own beatitude; This call is addressed to each person as well as the whole Church.
Christian BeatitudeThe New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which we are called: the coming of the Kingdom of God; the vision of God; entering the joy of the Lord; entering Gods rest.Beatitude makes us partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life; man enters the joy of Trinitarian life and love being in communion with God!This beatitude surpasses human powers and understanding. It is supernatural and is accompanied by a special grace to help us receive divine joy!It confronts us with decisive moral choices and invites us to purify our hearts and to seek the love of God!The beatitude of heaven sets a standard for the use of earthly goods in keeping with the will of God.
Art. 3: Human FreedomGod willed that man should be left in the hands of his own counsel so that he might seek the Creator of his own accord. (Sirach 15:14; GS 17).Freedom is the power rooted in reason and will to perform deliberate actions. It allows us to grow and mature in truth & goodness.It attains its perfection when directed toward God, our Beatitude and final end.We are faced with choices between good and evil and also between lesser goods and the highest good.This freedom characterizes properly human acts.The more one does good, the freer one becomes.
Freedom & ResponsibilityThere is no true freedom except in service to what is good and just. To disobey Gods commandments is to abuse freedom & leads to the slavery of sin.Freedom makes us responsible for our actions. Progress in virtue & knowledge of the good requires self-denial (asceticism) to enhance self-mastery.Responsibility can be diminished or nullified by the enemies of freedom: ignorance, duress, fear, etc.We are responsible for every deliberately willed act.Some good actions have unintended consequences that are bad. Are these morally permissible? We must use the Principle of the Double Effect to judge.
The Principle of the Double EffectAn effect can be tolerated without being willed by its agent; for instance, a mother's exhaustion from tending her sick child. A bad effect is not imputable if it was not willed either as an end or as a means of an action, e.g., a death a person incurs in aiding someone in danger. For a bad effect to be imputable it must be foreseeable and the agent must have the possibility of avoiding it, as in the case of manslaughter caused by a drunken driver. (CCC #1737)
The Principle of the Double EffectIf an action has two or more consequences, both good and bad, the act is morally good if the following conditions are met:The act itself is good or at least neutral;The good effect does not come from the evil effect or consequence;The evil effect is not intended, merely permitted and cannot be avoided;There is a proportionate for allowing the evil effect.A classic example of this Principle is an ectopic pregnancy and the removal of the ovum and/or Fallopian tube. This saves the life of the mother but also results in the termination of the pregnancy which is unintended. All four conditions are met.
Human Freedom in the Economy of SalvationHuman freedom is limited and fallible. Why?The misery of sin and the abuse of human freedom is attested to everywhere in the world.Liberation & salvation: By his glorious Cross, Christ has set us free for true freedom; Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 17)The grace of Christ does not in the slightest way diminish our freedom, but rather actualizes it.The more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom & confidence.Every temptation involves a denial of Gods love for us, calling into doubt His goodness and providence.
True Freedom is a Gift from God!By the working of grace, the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in the Church and in the world: Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in mind and body, we may freely accomplish your holy will! (Roman Missal)
Art. 4: Morality of Human ActsFreedom makes persons moral subjects so that they are the parents of their actions.Human actions, chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated as either good or bad.The morality of human acts depends upon:The object chosen (also called the means)The end in view or the intention (telos)The circumstances surrounding the action
Sources of MoralityThe object chosen is a good toward which the will deliberately directs itself and