Moral Decisions and Catechesis

Laudetur Iesus Christus – nunc et in aeternum!
May Jesus Christ be praised – both now and forever! 

The third part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), “Life in Christ,” highlights crucial points that guide the material to come; among them are the two ways a person can live, the importance of the Holy Spirit in being conformed to Christ, and the role of catechesis.

The Christian’s life, easily misunderstood by the world, is clearly set apart from the life of sin, hence the two ways available to us. The exhortation “do not return to your former base condition by sinning” (CCC 1691) may seem odd to us who were baptized as infants. However, if we think of life with or without (that is, turning away from Him by sinning) Christ, our “former condition” is one in which we separate ourselves from Jesus. While this way of life may seem alluring – temptation is never completely repugnant but always attracts us in some way – it is not authentic; it is death masquerading as life. The decisions we make are decisions for “the way of life” or “the way of death” (CCC 1696).

Our moral decisions are not solely our own: the Holy Spirit is present with us in our life and decisions (CCC 1695). All the good we do is because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The Holy Spirit unites us with Christ and moves us to give ourselves more and more to Him every day. Because of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is more than an example for us to follow: we are truly united with Jesus Christ. We “participate in the life of the Risen Lord” (CCC 1694).

Catechesis clearly reveals to us the joy and responsibilities of living as a Christian. (CCC 1697) The Catechism notes several elements of catechesis. One, a catechesis of the Holy Spirit, teaches us that He is the truest friend for whom we can hope, for He “inspires, guides, corrects, and strengthens [us in] this life” (CCC 1697).

Br. Thomas More

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The Human Heart

In the Scriptures today, the inspired authors mention the human “heart.” We hear the psalmist use it in Psalm 95 and later Paul uses it in Romans 5. What are they saying? Are they talking about the heart literally as the human bodily organ that circulates or pumps blood through the body? Or are they really using the human heart to speak metaphorically about the true nature of man as the image of God? After all, the inspired authors regularly use metaphors in the Scriptures to proclaim or reveal certain truths about the human person. In fact, they especially use the human heart as a metaphor to describe the interior life of man. This was common practice for them. They proclaimed the message of God’s Word using intelligible ideas or concepts familiar to their hearers. The human heart was certainly such a concept for them.

According to the inspired authors, the human heart represents the interior life of man as image of God. In this sense, he images God first and foremost interiorly. For his heart signifies the source of his interior operations of intellect and will. Here he defines himself interiorly as a moral person by using his intelligence and freedom to inform his particular moral actions. For this reason, in the Catechism, the Church teaches that the human “heart is the seat of moral responsibility” in the human being (CCC 2517). This means that he is responsible for the moral fruits he produces in life through his intelligence and free will. As a result, he himself chooses to be the person he becomes. He either becomes a righteous or unrighteous human being by the good or evil fruits he generates. In this sense, in his heart “he decides for or against God” (CCC 368). Accordingly, he can either perfect himself as an image of God or harm himself. On the one hand, he perfects himself as such by knowing the truth and loving the good in his particular moral actions. In doing so, he defines himself morally as a man of God by responding intelligently to God’s grace. On the other hand, he harms himself by acting against reason and nature. I pray that you become the moral person God created you to be by forming your heart in truth and love.

Br. Mariano

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