The Way of Christ: the Christian Moral Life

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think about the biggest decision you've

made today this week this month did you

choose well was it the right thing to do

or the wrong thing to do when we choose

what is good and avoid evil we grow in

God's grace and become holier so it's

really important to be able to determine

whether our actions are good or not


let's say you just got a new electronic

device as you're reading through the

instruction manual to figure out its

features and how it works you come

across words in big bold print that

reads do not submerge in water would

your response be how do these people

tell me what I can and can't do with my

device they don't even know me

this is my device and I can do whatever

I want whenever I want and however I

want with it no most people wouldn't

even think that because we all know that

water and electronic devices don't mix

well in fact water could ruin my device

but have you ever heard these words this

is my life or this is my body I can do

whatever I want whenever I want however

I want with my life I've heard and maybe

even said things that resemble these

statements however this mentality does

not work for ultimate good God created

us for a life with him and he has a plan

for us he knows what will break us and

what will fulfill us so he sets before

us an instruction manual rules and

guidelines that teach us right from

wrong so we can avoid damage to our

souls and to live in unity with him so

how do we know when an act is right or

wrong does it conform to God's will or

not when we're talking about the moral

goodness of an act we're talking about

how God sees it in its entirety he's not

only concerned with what we do but also

why we do it and when where and how we

do it the church gives us three elements

that determine whether an act is morally

right or wrong all three of these

elements have to be good in order for

the act as a whole to be good the first

and most important element is the object

what we do the second element is our

intention why we do it and the third is

the circumstances surrounding the action

the when where and how it's done now

this is a silly example but it

demonstrates how the

elements work let's pretend I'm on a

field trip at a museum with my class at

the end of a long day of walking around

my feet are tired when we get to the

exit of the building there's a sign and

a few chairs that says visitor seating I

choose to sit for the intention of

resting my feet in the proper designated

area now choosing this doesn't make me a

saint but all of the elements are good

therefore there's something bad about my

decision let's change it up and say that

there's a classmate that I really don't

like and as we're touring the museum I

heard her talk about how she sprained

her ankle and couldn't wait to sit down

so as we approach the exit of the

building I see that there is a one chair

left so I speed up a little bit and I

take it so she can't have it even though

the object of sitting is neutral my

intention is motivated by malice thus it

is not in conformity with God's will so

that action as a whole is morally wrong

ok let's change the circumstances so I'm

walking around this museum all day and

all I want to do is rest my tired feet I

glanced up to see this beautiful gold

trim to chair with red velvet lining and

a rope around it with a sign that reads

exhibit do not touch but I think to

myself wow that looks really comfortable

and my feet really hurt so I go and I

sit down that action is not morally

acceptable because the circumstances

don't allow me to sit in that chair

hopefully now we see how the object

intention and circumstances determine

the righteousness or lack thereof of an

action in the example I gave I used a

morally neutral object sitting there are

however objects or actions that are

intrinsically evil meaning they are

always wrong despite the goodness of the

intention or the circumstances some

examples of intrinsically evil objects

include blasphemy murder direct abortion

adultery and idolatry

these things are never permitted because

they are incompatible with the love of

God and neighbor so it's important to

educate ourselves in the moral law that

God has handed down through Scripture

and tradition blessed Louise hazeh once

said God's invitation to become Saints

is for all not just a few sanctity

therefore must be accessible to all and

what does it consist in a lot of

activity no in doing extraordinary

things no for this could not be for

everybody and at all times

therefore sanctity consists in doing

good and in doing this good in whatever

condition in place God has placed us

strive to lead a good moral life by

studying God's law

listening to the teachings of the church

practicing the virtues forming your

conscience and working with God's

abundant grace to conform your life to

his will and grow in sanctity I'm Bishop

Joseph Strickland thank you so much for

viewing this episode of the way of

Christ is an excellent resource for

growing in your Catholic faith for

deepening your life in Jesus Christ you

can purchase your own copy of the way of

christ at saint philip

slash store god bless you and let us

continue to grow in his light