January 25, 2015
Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish
What is morality?
Don’t Tell Me What To Do!
Resources for this session:
Don’t Tell Me What to Do!, written by Fr. Dave Heney
Catholic Morality – Sue Sack
Father Robert Barron – Morality & Conscience
Father Robert Barron – Morality, Character,
Father Robert Baron – God and Morality
Who teaches us morality?
Morality is about making decisions. Both reason and
instinct help us make decisions.
In our culture good decision is difficult.
RELATIVISM: anything goes, nothing is universal,
different situations, ages and cultures each have
different truths
it’s all about what’s best for me
SECULARISM: anything beyond this life in which we
now participate and that which is rational or materialist
is incomprehensible and invalid
Some questions about truth –
What IS truth?
Is there truth anymore?
Whose truth?
What does truth have to do with Catholic morality?
For Catholics, truth is more than rules and morality is
about more than rules.
In The Catholic View
Truth (morality) > rules
Truth (morality) > law
Truth is universal more than relative to a particular
people, place, or time
We learn about truth in numerous ways.
Two Foundations
Natural Law says that truth can be found in human
- Certain things are true for all people in all places
throughout the ages
- truth has to do with what is always universally
good for human beings
Divine Law as revealed in Scripture and Jesus offers
universal truths for all people, whether Christian or
- Particularly concerning who we are meant to be
with God and for each other
What is good?
Free Will
Truth is particularly rooted in human nature. Every
human has access to natural moral law because it is
present in the heart of each person and established by
reason. Born good? Babies help unlock the origins of
In theory – people of other faiths or no faith are able to
use this type of moral reasoning to make good
However – SIN can prevent us from using moral law
Divine Law – The Old Testament
For the Catholic Church, the Old Testament provides
lessons and rules that clarify the natural moral law.
The Old Testament identifies sin but does not include
faith in Jesus
Scripture – New Testament
A source of morality that fulfills and refines the rules
provided in the Old Testament.
The moral approach of the New Testament emphasizes
acting on the basis of LOVE, rather than merely trying to
avoid sins or to achieve eternal life.
What is Love?
- To will the good of the other
- -to intend for another person what is good for them
What is the Good?
- That which gives or sustains human life
- Marriage, children, friendship
- Knowing and loving God in a just society
What is Love not?
- Individualist or ego-driven
- Dependent upon a particular response
- Simply a feeling, Love is a verb, it is an action
- Self-derivative or self-sustaining, it comes from and is
sustained by participation in the divine relationship
Where does all this “stuff” about love and morality start?
God freely creates the world out of love
- The world is a free gift
- Human beings made in the image of God
- We are made to be, like the Trinity itself, in
relationship with God and each other
- We are meant to walk with God in friendship in the
What is the Jesus’ Greatest Commandment?
Love the Lord with all your heart and soul and Love
your neighbor as yourself.
This rule “trumps” all the other commandments and
All Catholic Moral Teaching derives from Imago Dei and
an unconditional respectful love due all people.
What About Heaven?
Catholic Morality is in part about our future eternal life but
that is ONLY obtained by living this form of moral life,
based on love, NOW!
In other words, we don’t live the rules simply to be
following the rules. The rules give us the minimum
requirements for leading a moral life. Salvation occurs on
The Components of Human Dignity
• Equality
Service to others
Worship of God
We are all equal to each other before God
- We may have different talents and
personalities but our human dignity,
regardless of age, gender, race or culture is
the same
- We therefore all deserve to be treated with
honor and respect
- We are each unique expressions of God with
our own God given mission and life purpose
- No one person on their own authority can tell
another how to live his/her life
A large part of our God-given human dignity
lies in our personal freedom to choose!
- Will we follow God’s plan?
- Will we agree to God’s plan?
- We always have freedom to change
- Freedom allows us to be who God wants
us to be
We must realize that every choice will have
God created us as good, pure persons.
-God can not/did not create evil
-We are good not because of anything we do, but because
God loves us
-Our actions do not make us good, God’s Grace does
What does God want and expect?
-To be honest about our imperfections
-To respond positively to God’s goodness
When you respond positively to God’s love you are
naturally going to live a more moral life. You realize the
love and you want to live in that love.
Service to Others
An innate part of our humanness is to be in service to
others. We don’t live for ourselves alone. To fulfill our
purpose/mission as human beings we must be in loving
relationships with others which includes service to
others. We serve God by serving and caring for each
other and for creation.
Moral people humbly recognize they are dependent on
God for all life.
Gratitude is a loving response to all that God has given
us and the realization that all life is a gift with its source
in God.
We acknowledge that we aren’t in charge, someone else
Living the ”Cycle of Gratitude” is the way we keep our lives
in balance. This includes living the Greatest
Commandment, participating in worship/prayer, serving
each other and being stewards of God’s creation.
When life is in balance we tend to naturally live moral lives.
When we choose to live out of balance morality becomes an
What About Sin?
A reality of the moral life is the actuality of sin,
our own sinfulness, and our need for God’s
Denying the existence of sin results in spiritual
and psychological damage because it is
ultimately a denial of the truth about ourselves.
Admitting the reality of sin helps us to be
truthful and to be healed.
All sin is a failure to love, a failure to participate
in the cycle of gratitude.
All sin is in someway an attempt to make gods
of ourselves.
Within us then is both the movement toward
good because we are made in the image of God,
and the darker impulses toward evil because of
the effects of original sin.
God unceasingly offers mercy and forgiveness. God’s mercy
is available in this life in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We
are strengthened to live a moral life with the Holy Eucharist.
To live a moral life is to practice virtue – both human and
theological virtues.
A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It
allows the person to not only perform good acts, but to give
the best of himself
We acquire virtues by frequent repetition of acts, by following
the examples of others, through prayer, through the
Additional Resources

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