2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)

Report
Chapter 2: Freedom and
Conscience
OUR MORAL LIFE IN CHRIST
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
ANTICIPATORY SET
Free write for five minutes on what you think of the teen’s
experience you have just heard about.
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
BASIC QUESTIONS
❏ What is true freedom?
❏ What is the relationship between moral action and freedom?
❏ Why are human beings necessarily moral agents?
❏ What is the nature of the moral act?
KEY IDEAS
❏ True freedom is not doing whatever you want but doing what you ought.
❏ Good moral actions make us freer; bad moral actions make us a slave to
sin.
❏ Every human person faces moral decisions, has the necessary free will to
make moral decisions, and is morally responsible for his or her own moral
acts.
❏ A moral act involves both deliberation and choice, has a moral content,
and affects the character of the person who acts.
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
❏ What is at the very heart of the human person’s exalted place in
creation?
The freedom to make moral choices, or “free will.”
❏ What is a common misunderstanding of free will?
The idea that free will is “the freedom to do whatever one wants.”
❏ What is the authentic meaning of free will?
It is “freedom to do what one ought.”
❏ What is the most radical form of “freedom to do whatever one
wants”?
The position that claims that the choices we make are not even moral
decisions but solely options of personal preference.
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
❏ Why did God endow us with this freedom?
We can willingly choose to return his love and love others as he has loved us.
❏ What gives freedom to a Christian?
Good moral actions make us freer; bad moral actions make us a slave to our
sin.
❏ What are reasons Christians try to live a moral life?
Love of God and neighbor is a perfect motivation for living a moral life. Fear
of the consequences of immoral actions is an imperfect but still valid
motivation.
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Perform a paragraph shrink on the paragraph beginning “Even for the
most devout believer...” (p. 41).
GUIDED EXERCISE
Perform a focused reading on the paragraph about Servais Pinckaers
(p. 40) based on the following question:
❏ What are the two types of freedom Pinckaers distinguishes?
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Conduct a class discussion on the following questions:
❏ Which form of freedom do you think is more attractive to most
people: the freedom to do whatever you want or the freedom to do
what you ought?
❏ Which one do you think is ultimately more fulfilling?
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
❏ What is some of the evidence that morality is a universal struggle?
Literature, philosophy, history, and the development of law testify that
morality is a universal struggle at the very core of human experience.
❏ What did Socrates and Plato say about the moral life?
Socrates said moral knowledge is the most important form of knowledge
because it places us on the road to happiness. Plato said moral knowledge is
“the rule of human life.”
❏ What does it mean to say every person has the necessary free will to
make moral decisions?
Every person has the ability to choose what is good and right or what is evil
and wrong. Every person has the natural law written in his or her heart so he
or she knows good from evil.
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
GUIDED EXERCISE
A think / pair / share:
❏ When can a physical act like yawning be a moral act?
GUIDED EXERCISE
Think / pair / share:
❏ Given that every moral act takes us closer to or farther from God, why
is Confession such a great gift?
GUIDED EXERCISE
Have the students perform a paragraph shrink on the excerpt from
Aristotle’s Politics (p. 43).
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
❏ What is a moral act?
Any action that results from a deliberate choice between good and evil or
between different degrees of goodness is a moral act.
❏ What is not a moral act?
Any thoughtless, unpremeditated act is not a moral act. Acts taken under duress
or threat of force are not moral acts. Purely unconscious acts like breathing are
not moral acts.
❏ What is the “moral content” of a moral act?
It is the thing chosen, either something good and evil or a greater or lesser
good.
❏ What is the cumulative effect of our moral acts?
They form character, either leaving us better or worse off, closer to or farther
from God.
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
CLOSURE
Write a paragraph summarizing why we are moral agents and
what makes our acts moral.
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
❏ Study Questions 1–7 (p. 60)
❏ Practical Exercises 1–5 (p. 62)
❏ Workbook Questions 1–7
❏ Read “Knowledge and Moral Responsibility” through “Several
Aspects of Human Freedom” (pp. 44–48)
1. The Moral Act (pp. 40–43)
ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT
Turn to and read Practical Exercise 1.
Respond for five minutes in writing.
Discuss how different society would have to be if people were
not responsible for their actions.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
ANTICIPATORY SET
Read Supplementary Reading 1, the selection from “Making Choices:
Practical Wisdom for Everyday Moral Decisions” (p. 57) by Peter Kreeft.
Explain Kreeft’s argument in your own words.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
BASIC QUESTIONS
❏ What is the relationship between knowledge and moral responsibility?
❏ What is the relationship between freedom and responsibility?
❏ What is the origin of human moral evil?
KEY IDEAS
❏ Knowledge and moral responsibility are related in that the more
knowledge one possesses, the more morally responsible one is for his or her
actions. This is why well-formed Christians have the greatest moral
responsibility. Knowledge increases the virtue of a good action, and
ignorance decreases the sinfulness of a bad action.
❏ There is no such thing as a freedom that is independent of responsibility.
❏ The origin of moral evil is the free decision of man to reject God’s moral
law.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
❏ Why is everyone accountable for his or her behavior?
Every individual has, at minimum, an innate grasp of the standards of correct
behavior.
❏ Why do Christians have a greater responsibility for their moral
behavior than others?
An adult is more responsible for telling a lie than a child because the adult
ought to know better. Similarly, a Christian ought to know what he or she
should do better than others who have not received Christian moral
formation.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
❏ How can knowledge make an act more virtuous?
Knowledge can increase the goodness of the act. For example, if I give to a
charity out of a desire to look good, I am not as virtuous as if I give because
I understand that it is good to give to charity and this particular charity is a
good cause.
❏ How does ignorance exonerate one from culpability?
Partial ignorance lessens the moral culpability of an evil act. Complete
ignorance completely removes moral responsibility.
❏ What do we have the obligation to do if we suspect an action might
be wrong?
We have the obligation to resolve that doubt by gathering correct
information.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
GUIDED EXERCISE
This lesson is about the relationship between knowledge and moral responsibility.
As a think / pair / share activity, rank the following four moral acts based on the
responsibility of the persons who commit them as determined by their level of
knowledge. Put the least responsible person first and the most responsible person last.
❏ A lawyer who commits perjury.
❏ A lone witness to an auto accident who injures a victim by giving improper first
aid.
❏ A six-year-old who lies about not having homework.
❏ A medical resident who gives a wrong prescription after working thirty-six
straight hours.
Discuss why you ranked them as you did.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
GRAPHIC ORGANIZER
Use the following table to clarify factors that lessen or remove moral fault.
Factor
Ignorance
Inadvertence
Duress
Fear
Habit
Inordinate
attachment
Imputability and Responsibility
Definition
Example
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
Factor
Ignorance
Inadvertence
Duress
Fear
Habit
Inordinate
attachment
Imputability and Responsibility
Definition
Example
Not knowing something.
Being a Muslim in Saudi Arabia
and practicing polygamy.
Not noticing something.
Speeding because of not seeing a
speed limit sign that suddenly
lowered the speed limit.
Being put under force.
Being forced to drive a get -away
car at gunpoint.
Being afraid of something.
Lying about cheating due to fear
of getting expelled.
Acting in an almost involuntary
A new lie told by someone who
way because of having done the
is a pathological liar.
same thing repeatedly.
Having a desire for something
An alcoholic again taking that
that goes beyond reason.
first drink even though he wants
to stop.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
❏ How are weaknesses, temptations, and temperaments, which affect
our behavior, radically different from being conditioned or
predetermined in our behavior?
The first three affect our behavior and are part of the human condition.
Being conditioned or predetermined in our behavior are denials of human
freedom, doctrines to be rejected.
❏ Why does self-giving require self-mastery?
The self-giving that is real love is often hard and requires overcoming
laziness, selfishness, sensuality, stinginess, and so on.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
❏ According to St. Paul, how is every person a “slave” to
someone or something?
We can be either slaves of sin, which leads to death, or slaves in
obedience to the Moral Law, which leads to eternal life.
❏ What is an example of abuse of freedom leading to slavery?
Someone who watches Internet pornography loses his or her freedom
not to watch pornography and not to regard sexuality in a perverse way.
Someone who is always giving in to anger becomes an angry person
who reacts to every setback with anger rather than patience or a sense
of humor.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
GRAPHIC ORGANIZER
 Complete the following table to “deconstruct” the paragraph
beginning, “Free will is a powerful gift...” (p. 46).
Effect upon
Our human dignity
Our relationship to God
Our happiness
Effects of the Use of Freedom
Good use of freedom
Misuse of Freedom
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
Effect upon
Our human dignity
Our relationship to God
Our happiness
Effects of the Use of Freedom
Good use of freedom
Develops skills and virtues.
Helps us grow in loving as
Christ loves.
We experience true
happiness.
Misuse of Freedom
Robs us of dignity.
Distances us from God.
We fall short of the
happiness God intends for
us.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Write two, one-sentence definitions: one for vincible ignorance and
the other for invincible ignorance.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
❏ What are the effects of the graces we receive through the
Sacraments?
Through the grace of God, the person is enlightened about how to follow
Christ and strengthened to perform actions that fulfill God’s plan.
❏ Does grace diminish freedom?
No. Grace helps us to see the truth more clearly and gives us the strength to
conquer our passions so that we can gradually align our will with God’s will.
❏ How do we align our will with God’s will?
By obeying the prompting of grace, we grow in inner freedom and
confidence.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Reread section (e) God Respects Our Freedom (p. 47) and work with a
partner to build a concise argument for why it is man, not God, who is
responsible for human evil.
GUIDED EXERCISE
A think / pair / share on the following question:
❏ How does the statement, “The subordination of the world to the
teachings of Christ is the greater use of freedom,” relate to what God
commanded Adam and Eve when he created them (cf. Gn 1:27–28)?
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
GUIDED EXERCISE
A think / pair / share on the following question:
❏ How does human society show its belief that we are responsible for our actions?
List several examples.
GUIDED EXERCISE
Perform a focused reading of the passage from Veritatis Splendor 35 (p. 48) using the
following Focus Question:
❏ What is wrong with the “current” idea that the individual determines truth?
Then discuss the following question:
❏ What is the correct relationship between moral truth and freedom?
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
CLOSURE
Pick one of the regimes or ideologies of death, hatred, or
falsehood examined in Lesson 1 of Chapter 2 and write a
paragraph explaining why it would be wrong to blame what was
done on God.
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
❏ Study Questions 8–29 (p. 60)
❏ Practical Exercises 6–7 (p. 62)
❏ Workbook Questions 8–24
❏ Read “What is Conscience?” through “Formation of
Conscience” (pp. 49–51)
2. Freedom and Responsibility (pp. 44–48)
ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT
Reread Peter Kreeft’s “Analysis of Freedom” (Supplementary Reading 1, p. 57).
Working with a partner, discuss your response to the anticipatory set activity (p.
44) in light of what you have learned in this lesson.
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
ANTICIPATORY SET
Opening Prayer on the story of Cain and Abel (cf. Gn 4:1–16).
Write for five minutes on what moral lessons you can draw from this
first murder.
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
BASIC QUESTIONS
❏ How do we know conscience exists?
❏ What are the duties and rights of conscience?
❏ What is the relationship between conscience and moral truth?
KEY IDEAS
❏ The reality of conscience is witnessed both in the Sacred Scriptures and
through human experience.
❏ We have both a right and a duty to exercise our moral conscience. We
have the right not to be forced to act against conscience or to be prevented
from acting in accordance with it, our duty is to obey the moral law.
❏ A good conscience applies moral truth; it does not create it. Conscience
fails when the objective moral law is ignored or misunderstood. Conscience
is not an infallible guide and can be ignorant or blinded.
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
GUIDED EXERCISE
A think / pair / share on the following question:
❏ Without knowing any more about conscience than the popular understanding
given above (p. 49), how is it likely that the popular notion is erroneous?
GUIDED EXERCISE
Discuss the following scenario. The aim is not to solve the problem but to
illustrate why applying the law to particular situations is not always obvious.
Your fourth grade son goes to a school that has a zero-tolerance policy toward
weapons. Any student who brings a weapon to school will be expelled. One evening
you learn your son had brought a Swiss army knife to school to show his friends.
Upon questioning your son, you discover no adults at school saw the knife. You
reprimand your child and explain to him the school rule and how serious it is.
❏ Do you, his parent, have a moral duty to inform the school authorities of what
your son did, knowing full well that he will be expelled if you do?
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
❏ What is conscience?
Conscience is a practical judgment of reason made by the intellect regarding
the good or evil of a particular act in light of objective moral standards.
❏ What are the responsibilities and the rights of the human person in
regard to conscience?
The human person has the obligation to follow his or her conscience
faithfully. We also have the right not be forced to act against conscience or
to be prevented from acting in accordance with it.
❏ What is one of the biggest misconceptions regarding conscience?
Conscience can create and apply its own moral standards. Extension: Recall
from the last chapter that freedom does not create the moral law. We
become free by following the moral law.
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
❏ How is conscience formed?
The human conscience must be habitually enlightened by moral truth
according to the guiding light of the Commandments and Christ’s teachings
on charity in order to function properly.
❏ Why must conscience be formed?
In order to apply the moral teachings of Christ and his Church to concrete,
real-life situations, a conscience must learn the moral law.
❏ What are some of the obstacles to knowing moral truth that block
acting in good conscience?
Two obstacles are the blindness to truth that comes from habitual sin and
the refusal to see or acknowledge moral truth.
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Brainstorm examples of people being required by their government or law to
do what is immoral either in the past or today.
• Not being allowed to rent a home to minorities (in the past).
• A homeowner having to rent a home to an unmarried couple.
• A pharmacist being required to sell contraception.
• A doctor being required to refer a woman for an abortion.
• A teacher being required to teach her first graders that homosexuality
is “normal.”
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
CLOSURE
Write a paragraph explaining the difference between the moral
law and conscience.
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
❏ Study Questions 30–37 (pp. 60–61)
❏ Practical Exercises 8–11 (p. 62)
❏ Workbook Questions 25–32
❏ Read “How to Develop a Well-Formed Conscience” through
“Conclusion” (pp. 52–56)
3. What Is a Conscience? (pp. 49–51)
ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT
Write a paragraph about something that, if the law were to
require you to do it, you would refuse based on your conscience.
Explain both what the act would be and why they would refuse in
conscience.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
ANTICIPATORY SET
A focused reading on Supplementary Reading 4, from “Conscience and
Freedom.”
Consider the importance of the words delicate, interrogated, and awkward
in this passage.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
BASIC QUESTIONS
❏ How does an examination of conscience relate to the formation of conscience?
❏ How does reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation foster a well-formed
conscience?
❏ What effect do bad habits have on conscience?
❏ What is the universal call to holiness?
KEY IDEAS
❏ In order to develop and maintain a well-formed conscience, one should practice
frequent and honest self-examination, which leads to sincere repentance.
❏ A well-formed conscience can also be fostered through frequent reception of the
Sacrament of Reconciliation.
❏ Repeated errors can become habits. When the conscience is repeatedly ignored, it
eventually becomes numb to wrongdoing and ceases to function as it should.
❏ The fullness of conscience involves a clear awareness that every Christian is
called by Baptism to become a saint: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
❏ Why must we obey our conscience if we are certain of its dictates?
If we do not, we condemn ourselves by making choices that we ourselves
consider immoral.
❏ What is an example of an apparent contradiction in regard to
following one’s conscience?
We must obey our consciences even though they may be wrong. This is why
we have the obligation of forming our consciences.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
❏ Why does an appeal to conscience not automatically justify an act
or viewpoint?
Our conscience may be very poorly formed or we may be obstinately
expressing an erroneous opinion. Extension: If I believe that premarital
sex is morally acceptable, I will probably be obstinate in my opinion that
contraception is good and dismiss any argument against it without carefully
considering it. If I am a “skinhead,” I will probably obstinately argue that
dark-skinned people and non-Christians are inferior.
❏ What is an example of confusion caused by moral relativism?
If a poor, unmarried woman is pregnant, it would be merciful for the
woman to have an abortion so the unwanted baby will not have to suffer.
The difficulties the mother has to bear and the imagined future difficulties
the child will suffer justify the abortion.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
GUIDED EXERCISE
A focused reading of the paragraph that begins, “d) Develop and
maintain a well-formed conscience...” (p. 53) using the following Focus
Question:
❏ How is an examination of conscience like reviewing game films?
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
❏ What are the two elements of sincere repentance?
Contrition, or sorrow for our sins, and purpose of amendment, the intention
to avoid sin in the future, are the two elements.
❏ Why is there little point in acknowledging our sins if we do not
intend to eliminate them from our lives?
We would just turn around and commit the same sins again.
❏ What is spiritual direction?
It is the counsel of some wise person who can advise us on the progress of
our spiritual lives.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
❏ What is an examination of conscience?
It is a careful and prayerful interior evaluation of our thoughts, words, and
deeds.
❏ What are some biblical sources for an examination of conscience?
The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes are
good sources.
❏ How does an examination of conscience and repentance lead
naturally to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Sins identified through an interior examination of conscience are orally
confessed and forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Work with a partner to discuss the following question:
❏ We are expected to be “docile” to the teachings of the Church. Yet, many
people criticize people of faith for not being taught how to think by their
religion, but what to think. How is this view false?
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Free write for five minutes on things you think you can do better to
live your Baptismal call to seek holiness.
GUIDED EXERCISE
A think / pair / share on the following question:
❏ What is usually behind vincible ignorance?
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
❏ Why is having a good will and a sincere desire to do what is right
not enough to have a good conscience?
A good conscience also requires knowledge of the moral law.
❏ How can one have absolute confidence he or she is acting in good
conscience?
He or she can sincerely try to know and understand the teachings of the
Catholic Church on moral matters and attempt to apply that knowledge to his
or her situations and circumstances.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
❏ Why is an attitude of humility necessary to form a
conscience?
An attitude of humility is necessary toward Church teachings because
they have been developed and preserved, faithful to the Scriptures and
Tradition, over centuries. We also have to be humble because Church
doctrine goes beyond human understanding and is sometimes opposed
to popular opinion.
❏ Why is it important to engage in sincere prayer and meditation
to have a good conscience?
Prayer is one of the most important ways that God communicates his
will to us. Since the role of conscience is to discern God’s will in a
particular moral situation, it is important that prayer be a regular part
of our lives.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
GUIDED EXERCISE
How is humility necessary to learn the objective moral law as taught by
the Church?
Imagine that you are a good guitarist who has the opportunity to study
with the greatest guitarist and guitar teacher who has ever lived. Now
imagine you play a piece and your teacher tells you to finger a passage in a
different way. You argue with him that your way is just as good as his.
Discuss this question:
❏ How would this be like a Catholic who wants to sit in judgment on the
moral law as taught by the Catholic Church?
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
❏ What is our first obligation toward others and ourselves in
regard to the moral law?
We should understand it and be able to explain it to others.
❏ How should we present the moral law to others?
It is not as a mere set of rules to be obeyed but as eminently
sensible moral principles that will bring us happiness.
❏ What kind of tone ought we to adopt in communicating
Catholic moral teachings?
We should use a kind but convincing manner.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
GUIDED EXERCISE
Conduct a think / pair / share on the following question:
❏ Why is the question “WWJD?” extremely valid in regard to
formation of conscience?
GUIDED EXERCISE
Work with a partner to switch off presenting the Catholic
argument on some moral question in a kind but convincing way.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
CLOSURE
Write a paragraph-long explanation and defense of a moral
doctrine that is in dispute today.
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
❏ Study Questions 38–55 (p. 61)
❏ Practical Exercises 12–16 (pp. 62–63)
❏ Workbook Questions 33–40
4. How a Conscience Is Formed (pp. 52–56)
ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT
Write a paragraph on the deformation of conscience using the
completed first Graphic Organizer employed in this lesson.
The End

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