As Christians, we are called to live as Christ in the world. This is the foundation of our morality.
We are created in God’s image; we are called to reflect that image in our lives. We are called to become the likeness of God through living a Christian moral life.
Our acts reveal who we are. Moral acts make us either more like God or less like him.
Moral acts are made consciously with the consent of the will. Our acts can be either morally good or morally bad (sinful or evil).
Some acts are considered neutral, because they do not build up or destroy moral character. Normal bodily acts and the acts of children who are not fully aware of the consequences of their actions are examples.
Personal dignity and responsibility results from our ability to control our acts, to act independently, and to carry out our acts.
We have the freedom to choose how we act in life. We become truly free, however, by choosing to act morally good, by choosing God, to follow Jesus Christ.
We are inclined to evil because of the fall of Adam and Eve. Through them, we became enslaved to sin. Jesus Christ freed us through his Incarnation, Transfiguration, death on the Cross, and Resurrection.
Before the birth of Our Lord, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments as a guide.
The Ten Commandments
Our Lord summarizes the Ten Commandments as two:
“... you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' ... 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 Revised Standard Version)
The commandments are an essential guide to living life as a Christian.
We have the ability to understand the consequences of our acts. We have will, so our acts are voluntary. Our voluntary acts, our decisions, determine the kind of person we will be, define us.
Our ultimate goal in life is union with the Holy Trinity in eternal life. We are called to this life by the Holy Trinity.
Our Fundamental Choice
Our fundamental choice is to choose freely to respond with faith to God’s call to us. All of our acts, therefore, should lead us to this goal.
Our acts are morally good if they lead us to this goal of union with the Holy Trinity.
The moral goodness or sinfulness of an act is based on the content of the act, the aim, and the intention. Circumstances can have an influence.
It’s important to understand whether our acts lead us to or away from God.
Our acts are morally good when they lead us to God.
Intention directs our will to an end. We should intend with our acts to grow closer into union with the Holy Trinity. Intention can direct more than one act.
The aim of an act tells us the end of our act.
For example, we may have a desire to help the poor. This is our intention. We help the poor by giving up time or money. This is the content of the act. We desire to help the poor to fulfill the commandment to love one’s neighbor as yourself. This is the aim.
If the content of an act, or the aim, or the intention does not lead us to God, the act is morally wrong or sinful.
Any action that breaks the commandments is sinful because of the content. The intention or aim cannot change this. Nor can the circumstances. Circumstances, however, can influence the moral weight of the act.
Our salvation involves our cooperation, our effort, with God’s grace.
When we say yes to act in a morally good way, we receive grace from God.
Grace is a free gift of God. It is not a reward, and we cannot earn it through spiritual labor, even though we must labor.
When you accept God’s grace, you grow in grace. How much grace you can receive depends on how open you are to receiving God’s free gift of grace.
The Virgin Mary’s “Yes” to God is an example of perfect cooperation with God’s grace.
[Notes from our second catechetical talk based on Christ Our Pascha, pages 239-244.]