Symbolon Sundays: A Catholic Moral Vision

Virtue, Grace and the path to Happiness…

Hey guys! Last Sundays’ session was a very thought provoking watch that is a MUST WATCH for everyone as it is touches on how we as Catholics should be and act in society as God intended us to and not by ‘the way of the world’.

After watching the Episode on ‘A Catholic Moral Vision’ we learnt that for the Catholic church morality is all about the quest for happiness. In Catholic teaching, living a moral life means following the plan God has created for us. However, as the world has a different take on this, it is important the Catholic Moral Vision is clarified. Our notes are below.

Main points of the episode:

The world has a different take on morality than the Catholic Church. Much of the world holds to moral relativism: the idea that everyone can make up their own morality, that there isn’t really anything right or wrong, true or false – all that matters is that you follow what you believe or that you follow what works. One problem with Moral Relativism is that it is focused on self. Without a higher standard outside of ourselves calling us to generosity, perseverance, loyalty and heroic sacrifice, we become trapped in self-interest and instead of following Gods plan we follow our own plan, making up our own ethics, which, instead of challenging us to give ourselves more in sacrificial love, often supports our own advantage, comfort and pleasure.

  • Morality in the Catholic tradition is all about the pursuit of happiness. God placed in the human heart a desire for beatitude, for true happiness, which is found only in him (CCC 1725). So Catholic morality answers the question, “What kind of life leads to true happiness?”
  • God’s moral law flows from his fatherly heart. God loves us so much that he reveals to us the pathway to happiness, which is found in his moral law (CCC 1975).
  • The perfection of freedom is not simply the ability to make choices, but the ability to perform actions of excellence directed toward what is good (CCC 1744). Yet, to be truly free, we need more than desires and good intentions. We need virtue.
  • Virtue is the habitual disposition to do the good. It helps a person rise above his selfish desires and give the best himself to God and others (CCC 1803).
  • We cannot live the virtuous life fully on our own. We need God’s grace to help us (CCC 1810 – 11). And we need the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity to inform the moral virtues and dispose us to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity (CCC 1840 -41).
  • There are three sources of the morality of human acts: the object (or the act itself), the intention, and the circumstance. All three must be good for an act to be good. One may not do evil so that good may result from it (CCC 1757, 1761).
  • Sin is spoken word, an action or a desire contrary to Gods moral law. Mortal sin breaks friendship with God, while venial sin hinders ones friendship with God. One commits mortal sin by choosing deliberately, with full knowledge, something that is gravely contrary to Gods moral law (CCC 1871, 1874). To receive Gods mercy, we must acknowledge our sin, repent and ask God for his forgiveness. And we do this, especially in the case mortal sin, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • The Catholic Church teaches that a person must follow his conscience, which is “man’s secret core, and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths” (CCC 1795). But one’s conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgements. That is why one must properly form his conscience with the Word of God found in scripture and proclaimed in the Church’s teachings (CCC 1802).

Other discussion points: Our discussions focused on how to behave and deliver a message/act of good intention towards a friend, domestic staff, worker, colleague and even a stranger especially in the context of the ‘Nigerian Mentality’ or cultural/moral relativity – the idea that everyone can make up their own morality, that there isn’t really anything right or wrong, true or false – all that matters is that you follow what you believe or that you follow what works. However, the problem with this is that it focused on self. Without a higher standard outside or ourselves calling us to generosity, perseverance, loyalty and heroic sacrifice, we become trapped in self-interest and instead of following Gods plan we follow our own plan. We discussed the balance between focusing on getting results and being kind/communicating the good intention you have by combining emotional intelligence and kindness. We concluded that asking for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit is key and understanding the person’s nature before approaching. We discussed the limitations of our understanding of some of the fruits of the Holy Spirit such as kindness and love and how we are to apply it in our lives. We concluded on praying for the graces to accept Gods will in our lives, endeavouring to know his will by our disposition to the holy spirit through participating in the sacraments, regular prayer and reading of Gods word, soul searching, inspiration and guidance from the saints, angels and the clergy. Over the course of the week we will be updating the blog on the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and good virtues so be on the look out!

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