Christian morality is not a compilation of prohibitions or a list of do’s and don’ts, but a living out of a new way of life, a life in Christ Jesus. Clearly this new life in Christ, a gracious gift from God, involves choice. It requires decisions. It demands responsibility for our actions. Our response to Christ’s presence in us can sustain or it can suppress that new life. This interplay between the gift of God and our response is the heart of Christian morality.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines the catechesis, or instruction, that will guide our full, Christian moral life. Think about the great scope of gifts and guidance in the following list that the Catechism offers for our moral growth:
- “a catechesis of the Holy Spirit, the interior Master of life according to Christ, a gentle guest and friend who inspires, guides, corrects, and strengthens this life”
- “a catechesis of grace, for it is by grace that we are saved and again it is by grace that our works can bear fruit for eternal life”
- ” a catechesis of the Beatitudes, for the way of Christ is summed up in the beatitudes, the only path that leads to the eternal beatitude for which the human heart longs”
- “a catechesis of sin and forgiveness, for unless man acknowledges that he is a sinner he cannot know the truth about himself, which is a condition of acting justly; and without the offer of forgiveness he would not be able to bear this truth”
“Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s 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 you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.”
-St. Leo the Great, Sermons
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
“We are a nation founded on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but the right to life itself is not fully protected, especially for unborn children, the most vulnerable members of the American family. We are called to be peacemakers in a nation at war. We are a country pledged to pursue “liberty and justice for all,” but we are too often divided across lines of race, ethnicity, and economic inequality. We are a nation of immigrants, struggling to address the challenges of many new immigrants in our midst. We are a society built on the strength of our families, called to defend marriage and offer moral and economic supports for family life. We are a powerful nation in a violent world, confronting terror and trying to build a safer, more just, more peaceful world. We are an affluent society where too many live in poverty and lack health care and other necessities of life. We are part of a global community facing urgent threats to the environment that must sustain us. These challenges are at the heart of public life and at the center of the pursuit of the common good.” The U.S. Bishops’ Reflection on Catholic Teaching and Political Life, Part I.