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Chapter 1: The Basis for Morality. OUR MORAL LIFE IN CHRIST. 1. Introductory Lesson (for first day of class). Syllabus Cycle of instructional lessons Instructional policy Materials Homework: Read The Basis for Morality and Introduction through What the Moral Law is Not (pp. 2–6).

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chapter 1 the basis for morality

Chapter 1: The Basis for Morality

OUR MORAL LIFE IN CHRIST

1 introductory lesson for first day of class
1. Introductory Lesson (for first day of class)
  • Syllabus
  • Cycle of instructional lessons
  • Instructional policy
  • Materials
  • Homework:
    • Read The Basis for Morality and Introductionthrough What the Moral Law is Not(pp. 2–6)
2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 6
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

ANTICIPATORY SET

Ask the students to respond to the following statement in writing, then ask them to share their responses:

Upon hearing the Ten Commandments, a student said, “I suppose God is entitled to his opinion, but I am also entitled to mine!”

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 61
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

BASIC QUESTIONS

What is required to accept Christ’s invitation to happiness and eternal life?

What is the difference between objective morality and moral relativism?

What is the essence of the moral law?

Why is the moral law essential to Christianity?

KEY IDEAS

Christ’s invitation to share in his life in this world and in the next requires both a faith‑filled response and a living of that faith by using our freedom to do good.

The moral law is the standard of human behavior established by God and taught by the Church. Objective standards of morality are opposed to moral relativism, which claims that moral standards are subjective and may vary according to situation and personal opinion.

The moral law is not simply about rules but more importantly about how best to love God and our neighbor in thought, word, and deed.

Christianity is about holiness, and good moral behavior is essential to attaining holiness.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 62
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is morality and moral law?

Morality refers to the standards by which we judge actions to be good or evil. Moral law refers to the standards of human behavior that were established by God and are taught by the Catholic Church.

What do the controversies between abortion proponents and pro‑life advocates reveal?

The controversies reveal that, even though the two sides completely disagree, each believes that some kind of moral standard must exist. For example, one side speaks of the right of the unborn child to life. The other speaks of the woman’s right to an abortion.

What is the difference between an objective and a subjective morality?

Objective morality claims that our actions are good or evil independently of what we think about them, whereas subjective morality claims that the moral value of our actions depends on the situation and one’s opinion.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 63
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Put the students into groups of three or four and assign each group one of the five For Discussion questions. One student in each group should be the moderator of the group, another the recorder, and a third the presenter.

Give the groups three to five minutes to discuss their question then call on the presenters to briefly share responses.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 64
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Conduct a mini‑lecture on why people tend to equate morality and the Catholic Church with “repressive teachings” on morality.

Since the latter half of the twentieth century, much of the secular culture has been obsessed with sex.

In 1950, only a tiny minority of people would have said that premarital sex, adultery, divorce, contraception, pornography, abortion, or homosexual behavior were morally acceptable.

In 1950, ideas such as in vitro fertilization (test tube babies), cloning, same‑sex “marriage” and adoption of children, and partial‑birth abortion would have been considered morally unacceptable.

While much of our culture has changed, the Catholic Church has maintained her perennial teachings and applied them to new situations that have arisen.

These teachings have sometimes been scorned and ridiculed by the media, which accuse the Church of trying to impose its values on others, or to legislate morality.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 65
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

If Christianity is not just about moral precepts, what is it fundamentally about?

Christianity is a message of salvation and holiness.

What is the relationship between a morality of rules and a morality that includes rules?

Christ’s morality is not a morality of just rules as if following rules would save you. Rather, it is a morality that includes rules. Moral laws and precepts show us the difference between good and evil and the path we need to follow if we want to please God, achieve true perfection, and obtain salvation.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 66
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What do some people assume morality is basically about?

Many people assume morality is all about issues pertaining to sexuality and marriage. They then conclude morality is nothing but an unnecessary restriction on human freedom.

Besides matters of sexual morality, what else does the moral law include?

It includes all human behavior that has a moral dimension, including war, health care, economics, poverty, discrimination, calumny, and criminal justice.

Where can one find the official presentation of Catholic beliefs and teachings about the moral law?

The third section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 67
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Have the students work with a partner to come up with at least one example of how, in some moral issue, one can be moral (in the good sense) or moralistic (in a bad sense).

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 68
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What Basic Question does Catholic moral teaching answer?

How can we best reflect our love for God and other people in our thoughts, words, and deeds.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 69
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Have the students complete the following table to clarify the analogy between playing on an athletic team and living in union with Christ.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 610
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Have the students complete the following table to clarify the analogy between playing on an athletic team and living in union with Christ.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 611
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Ask the students to provide examples of moral and moralistic people from The Scarlet Letter and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (or other) novels.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 612
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

CLOSURE

Have the students write a one-sentence answer for each of the three Basic Questions of this lesson.

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 613
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Study Questions 1–12 (p. 27)

Practical Exercise 2 (p. 29)

Workbook Questions 1–7

Read “Characteristics of the Moral Law” and Supplementary Reading 2 (pp. 6–8, 20)

2 the basis for morality and the introduction pp 2 614
2. The Basis for Moralityand the Introduction (pp. 2-6)

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT

Ask the students to write three questions about things they did not understand about the moral law in this lesson.

Spend a few minutes sharing the questions and possible answers.

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 9
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

ANTICIPATORY SET

Have a student read the story of the rich young man as part of the class’s opening prayer (cf. Mt 19:16–26) and then briefly discuss what Christ is saying.

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 91
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

BASIC QUESTIONS

Why is the moral law demanded by the faith?

What is the relationship between the moral law and happiness?

How does the moral law make us wise?

Why is the moral law objective and how does the moral law draw us to Christ?

KEY IDEAS

A full commitment to living the moral law is a demand of our faith, which enables us live out our vocation to holiness.

The moral law sets us on the way to true happiness because it is rooted in love.

Because living the moral law gives us wisdom, the moral law leads us to knowledge of the inner life of the Trinity and God's plans for us.

Just as the physical laws governing the universe are not created but discovered, the moral law is objective, originating in God’s divine wisdom. The natural law is written in man’s heart by God himself. Abiding by the moral law draws us closer to Christ, who fulfilled and perfected the Mosaic Law.

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 92
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

How does the Great Commandment relate to the Ten Commandments?

The Great Commandment to love God above all else and to love your neighbor as yourself, puts all the Commandments into context and describes the interior spirit with which we are to embrace the moral law. Love is both the context and spirit.

How does the moral law provide the way to true happiness?

Living by the moral law helps us get closer to God, who is the true source of happiness.

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 93
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

1. The Law in general: vv. 17–20

2. Anger: vv. 21–26

3. Adultery: vv. 27–30

4. Divorce: vv. 31–32

5. Oaths: vv. 33–37

6. Retaliation: vv. 38–42

7. Love of Enemies: vv. 43–48

  • Give the groups about three minutes to analyze their passages, then have them share their findings with the whole class.

GUIDED EXERCISE

Divide the class into seven groups. Assign each group one of the following passages from Matthew 5:17–48. The job of each group is to explain how its passage presents a New Law that perfects the Old Law.

The phrase “the law and the prophets” refers to what we call the Old Testament:

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 94
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is the origin of both the physical and moral laws of the universe?

Both kinds of laws were created by God and are discovered, not invented, by human beings.

What is the natural law?

The natural law is the moral law written in the human heart.

Why is the moral law objective?

The standards of Christian morality are God’s plan for us. They are not determined by one’s preference or the will of the majority.

What is the relationship between the morality of the Old and New Testaments?

The Commandments given by God to the Jewish people were perfected and explained by Christ.

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 95
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

CLOSURE

Have the students free write for five minutes on the following question:

What is, to you, the most important reason that you should obey the moral law?

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 96
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Study Questions13–19 (p. 27)

Practical Exercise 1 (p. 29)

Workbook Questions 8–11

Read “Moral Law and Free Will” through “Moral Law and Grace” (pp. 9–11)

3 characteristics of the moral law pp 6 97
3. Characteristics of the Moral Law(pp. 6–9)

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT

Have the students complete Practical Exercise 1 in class. Have students pray silently about things that take precedence over God and things they might change in their own lives to give God center stage.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 11
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

ANTICIPATORY SET

Incorporate the story of Cain and Abel (cf. Gn 4:1–16) into your class’s opening prayer and discuss the murder of Abel as a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 111
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

BASIC QUESTIONS

What effect does Original Sin have on our free will?

What is grace?

What is the difference between sanctifying and actual grace?

Why do some baptized persons live poor moral lives?

KEY IDEAS

Original Sin weakens our free will and inclines us toward sin.

Grace is the help God gives us so we can distinguish good from evil choices and actually do good and avoid evil.

Sanctifying grace is a permanent presence of God in our souls. We receive it at Baptism. Actual graces are temporary infusions of God’s grace to help us live according to God’s will.

Some baptized person live poor moral lives because they refuse to cooperate with the graces they have received.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 112
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

GUIDED EXERCISE Part I of II

Conduct a mini‑lecture on the Catholic understanding of the effects of Original Sin.

Original Sin is transmitted to every human being as part of his or her human nature.

It is not a moral guilt as if the person has committed a personal sin; rather, it is a wound that leads to sin.

Due to Original Sin, the intellect is darkened, so it is harder to recognize the truth. The will is weakened, so it is harder to do good. The passions often overwhelm the reason and will rather than being ruled by them. This is called concupiscence, and it leads us to sin.

Because of Original Sin, we experience pain, sickness, and eventually death.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 113
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

GUIDED EXERCISE Part II of II

The most important consequence of Original Sin is the privation of sanctifying grace we experience as a consequence of the sin of Adam. Privation means being denied something we were created to possess. We were made to be in relationship with God and to have God’s own life within us. However, Original Sin alienates us from God.

Although Baptism restores sanctifying grace, it does not remove the wounding effects of Original Sin.

There are two principal errors in regard to Original Sin. On the one hand, some people have exaggerated the definition of Original Sin. For example, the Manichaeans claimed that everything physical is evil. Later, Calvin said our human natures are totally depraved. On the other hand are those who deny Original Sin altogether. For example, Rousseau and the Romantics claimed people are all originally good but are corrupted by society.

Which reading of Original Sin seems to best explain human history: man as totally corrupt, man as naturally perfectible, or man as possessing a basically good but wounded nature?

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 114
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Conduct a think/pair/share on the following question:

According to Veritatis Splendor 102, what is the relationship between the temptation Adam faced and the temptations each one of us faces?

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 115
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What kind of freedom did Adam and Eve possess before their fall?

They had complete self‑control over their minds, wills, and passions.

What is Adam and Eve’s sin called?

Original Sin.

What are the three consequences of Original Sin for us?

Each of us has inherited a clouded mind, a weakened will, and disordered passions.

Despite possessing the natural law, why do we need God’s help to make good moral decisions on our own?

Our tendency to sin, a consequence of Original Sin, makes it more difficult for us to distinguish good from evil.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 116
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is grace?

Grace is a free gift that God gives us so we can share in his life and conform ourselves to his will.

What is sanctifying grace?

It is the abiding grace that we receive at Baptism through which God himself dwells in our souls, and we share in his life.

What is actual grace?

It is a temporary grace that gives us the knowledge and strength to do what is good and right.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 117
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

Why is actual grace necessary for every person who has reached the age of reason?

Without it we would not have the strength to resist temptation and could not be faithful to the Commandments. We can always count on God’s grace to aid us to do what is right.

Why do so many baptized persons live morally poor lives?

Grace cannot operate if we lack the commitment or effort to do good, or if we rationalize that our bad behavior is exempt from the moral law.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 118
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

CLOSURE

Have the students free write for five minutes on the relationship between Original Sin, grace, and free will.

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 119
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Study Questions20–21 (p. 27)

Practical Exercise 3 (p. 29)

Workbook Questions 12–17

Read “Moral Law and the Christian Vocation” through “Vocation and Discipleship,” and Supplementary Readings 1, 3 (pp. 12–14, 22–23)

4 moral law and free will and moral law and grace pp 9 1110
4. Moral Law and Free Will and Moral Law and Grace (pp. 9–11)

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT

Have the students work with a partner to answer the following question.

Based on what you have learned in this chapter, how would you respond to someone who says he or she would never become Catholic because of the clergy sexual abuse scandal?

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 14
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

ANTICIPATORY SET

Explain to the students that one of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Council is Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church. One of the most important sections of Lumen Gentiumis Chapter Five, “The Universal Call to Holiness.”

  • Read the following excerpt (S 41), which describes the vocation to holiness:

All Christ’s faithful, whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives—and indeed through all these, will daily increase in holiness, if they receive all things with faith from the hand of their heavenly Father and if they cooperate with the Divine Will. In this temporal service, they will manifest to all men the love with which God loved the world.

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 141
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

BASIC QUESTIONS

What is the universal call to holiness?

What is the role of freedom and self‑mastery in our vocation?

What is Christian discipleship?

What is transformation in Christ?

KEY IDEAS

Every human being is called to holiness and therefore to living the moral law.

We need both freedom and self‑mastery to respond to our vocation to holiness.

To be a disciple is to imitate Christ, especially in his life and Death.

We are called to become inwardly transformed in Christ.

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 142
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

If one is not Catholic, a Christian, or even a deist, is the moral law necessary?

The moral law applies to every human being because every person is called to holiness.

What vocation does Baptism give every Christian?

Every baptized person has the vocation to become completely centered on Christ. This is the holiness proclaimed by the Gospels and found throughout the New Testament.

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 143
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is a disciple?

The word disciple (“follower”) indicates an individual who has adopted another person’s way of life and taken on his or her particular type of discipline.

Whose way of life and discipline are we called to adopt?

We are called to imitate Christ.

What event(s) in Christ’s life most dramatically illustrates the virtues we are called to live?

In Christ’s Passion and Death we witness forgiveness, patience, humility, and love.

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 144
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

Where does the imitation of Christ occur in a person’s life?

Although it has outward manifestations, the imitation of Christ primarily occurs inwardly, in our hearts.

What does it mean to be incorporated into the life of Christ?

It means we are inwardly transformed to love, think, and act according to Christ’s example and teachings.

How is St. Augustine an example of the need for both free will and self‑control?

For many years, Augustine desired a life of holiness, but he lacked the self‑mastery to abandon an unchaste life.

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 145
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Have the students work with a partner to complete Practical Exercise 13 on the relationship between freedom and sin:

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1033–1037), what does the existence of Hell reveal about humanity’s destiny and proper end?

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 146
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Conduct a think/pair/write/share on the following question:

How does a person who is transformed by Christ see the world differently?

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 147
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is the relationship between vocation and freedom?

It is completely up to us whether we respond to our vocation.

What two aspects of freedom are vital in following Christ’s teaching?

First, we must want to follow Christ and live by his teachings. Second, we must have sufficient self‑control and self‑mastery to live the high standards of love and sacrifice exemplified by Christ.

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 148
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

CLOSURE

Have the students write a paragraph on their understanding of what transformation in Christ means, and how they feel about being changed in this way.

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 149
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Study Questions 22–26 (p. 27)

Practical Exercises 4, 5, 8, 9, 13 (p. 29)

Workbook Questions 18–24

Read “Christian Morality in Action” and Supplementary Reading 4 (pp. 14–15, 23)

5 moral law and the christian vocation and vocation and discipleship pp 12 1410
5. Moral Law and the Christian Vocation and Vocation and Discipleship (pp. 12–14)

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT

End class with a silent time of prayer in which the students complete Practical Exercise 4 on the meaning of discipleship in their own lives.

6 christian morality in action pp 14 15
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

ANTICIPATORY SET

This lesson examines “how morality, free will, our actions, and our interior dispositions are all inextricably interrelated.”

Have the students write one‑sentence explanations for each of the following terms:

6 christian morality in action pp 14 151
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

ANTICIPATORY SET

This lesson examines “how morality, free will, our actions, and our interior dispositions are all inextricably interrelated.”

Have the students write one‑sentence explanations for each of the following terms:

6 christian morality in action pp 14 152
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

BASIC QUESTIONS

What do our actions reveal about us?

Are we responsible for our actions?

On what standard must our moral actions be based?

KEY IDEAS

Our words and actions reveal our interior moral dispositions, whether good or evil.

Despite the weakness of our wounded human nature, which tempts us toward evil, our actions are the result of our own free will.

In order to follow Christ, our decisions and actions must be based on the moral law. The Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist help us greatly in this regard.

6 christian morality in action pp 14 153
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Conduct a class discussion on the following question:

Can one follow Christ and at the same time decide for oneself which moral laws to follow and which not to follow?

6 christian morality in action pp 14 154
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What do our actions reveal?

They reveal our interior values or moral dispositions.

How do we commit good acts?

We commit good acts by using our free will to make good choices under the influence of grace.

Why does even a person committed to Christ have a tendency to sin?

A tendency toward sin is a consequence of our wounded human nature, so we can never presume ourselves to be invulnerable to temptation and sin.

6 christian morality in action pp 14 155
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

According to Christ, what is the origin of every evil in man?

The origin is the human heart out of which arise evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, and slander.

Which Sacraments are especially helpful in living a moral life in Christ?

Reconciliation and Eucharist constantly supply us with graces.

What does it mean to say, “grace builds on nature”?

This adage means that our dispositions and will must be engaged in order to make use of the grace received from God through the Sacraments.

6 christian morality in action pp 14 156
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Conduct a think/pair/share:

How can the idea of “little by little” apply to our moral life in Christ?

6 christian morality in action pp 14 157
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

CLOSURE

Have the students write a paragraph examining how morality, free will, our actions, and our interior dispositions are interrelated.

6 christian morality in action pp 14 158
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Study Questions 27–29 (p.27–28)

Practical Exercises 6, 11 (p. 29)

Workbook Questions 25–26

Read “Effects of the Moral Life in Christ” and Supplementary Reading 6 (pp. 16–18, 24)

6 christian morality in action pp 14 159
6. Christian Morality in Action (pp. 14–15)

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT

Have the students work with a partner to complete Practical Exercise 11 on the practical ramifications of Matthew 15:10–20.

7 effects of the moral life in christ pp 16 18
7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

ANTICIPATORY SET

Incorporate the Parable of the Talents (cf. Mt 25) in your class’s opening prayer. Have the students complete Practical Exercise 7 to make an inventory of the talents God has given each of them and how they might develop those talents.

7 effects of the moral life in christ pp 16 181
7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

BASIC QUESTIONS

Is Christian morality positive or negative?

What effect does Christian morality have on human dignity?

On what will God judge us in the end?

What effect does Christian morality have on free will?

How does Christian morality relate to love?

KEY IDEAS

Christian morality is a positive morality that tells us to love God and neighbor.

Christian morality safeguards human dignity because it recognizes the dignity of each person and requires us to treat ourselves and others accordingly.

We will be judged not only on what we have done, but on what we should have done, but did not.

Christian morality makes us freer by overcoming slavery to sin.

Christian morality begins and ends with love and casts out fear of punishment.

7 effects of the moral life in christ pp 16 182
7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Have the students work with a partner to complete Practical Exercise 10 on the importance of sins of omission.

7 effects of the moral life in christ pp 16 183
7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is the risk that God took in creating us with a free will?

God took the risk that we would say no to him and abuse our freedom.

How do we attain the highest degree of freedom?

We practice the message preached by Christ.

What is the freedom that a moral life in Christ gives us?

It gives freedom from sin.

7 effects of the moral life in christ pp 16 184
7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What does it mean to say Christian morality is at the service of love?

The Christian moral message begins with God offering his love to us and ends with the New Commandment that we should love one another as Christ loved us. The entire moral law consists of examples of how to love God and neighbor.

What is the difference between a positive and a negative morality?

A positive morality prescribes what a person, motivated by the love of God, should do to imitate the life of Christ. A negative morality, in its extreme, consists of “thou shaltnots,” obedience to which is motivated primarily by fear of punishment.

Which is better, to be motivated by love of God and neighbor or to be motivated by fear of punishment?

To be motivated by love is superior, since this motivation both includes not doing evil and goes beyond it. For example, “Thou shalt not kill,” forbids killing the innocent, whereas loving my neighbor means more than just not murdering him, but positively loving him and considering his welfare above my own.

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7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

Is Christian morality completely positive or negative?

While it is a positive morality, it does include negative commands. Christian morality, nevertheless, goes beyond telling us what we should do and should not do and reveals what type of persons we should be to find fulfillment.

What is the relationship between love and fear?

Fear and love are opposed in the sense that perfect love of God contains no fear of punishment.

Extension: The well‑formed son obeys his father out of love, not fear, although in a sense the son might “fear” disappointing the father.

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7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is the relationship between the Great Commandment and human dignity?

When we act morally, we act in accordance with our own human dignity and the dignity of others as well. The second part of the Great Commandment, love of neighbor as self, reminds us that we must treat other human persons with great respect, for they are made in God’s image.

What do the parables found in Matthew 25 indicate?

They indicate that we will be judged not only on what we have done, but also on what we have failed to do.

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7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Conduct a think/pair/share on the following question:

Even though fear is an imperfect motive, is it useful in our moral life? Provide at least two examples of how fear of punishment can be positive.

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7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

How do our actions either increase or decrease our freedom?

Good actions make us freer, whereas bad actions diminish our freedom and make us slaves to sin.

Extension: For example, overcoming my stinginess and giving some money to a relief organization makes it easier to give the next time I can help someone. Giving into my stinginess and spending the money on myself will make it even harder to donate to charity the next time I have an opportunity.

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7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

CLOSURE

Have the students work with a partner to list as many positive aspects of Christian morality as they can find in this chapter.

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7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Study Questions30–36 (p. 28)

Practical Exercises 7, 10, 12 (p. 29)

Workbook Questions 27–35

Read ”Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ” through “Conclusion” (pp. 18–21)

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7. Effects of the Moral Life in Christ (pp. 16–18)

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT

Have the students free write on the following statement for five minutes:

Love for God authenticates our love for our neighbor, and our love for our neighbor is indispensable evidence of our genuine love for God.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

ANTICIPATORY SET

Incorporate 1 John 4:7–11 into the class’s opening prayer:

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

BASIC QUESTIONS

What are the fruits of keeping the moral law?

How does much of Western society regard traditional moral Principles?

KEY IDEAS

Keeping the moral law leads to holiness, happiness, and a more just world.

Christian morality is sometimes at odds with the secular spirit of Western society, which oftentimes views Christian morality disrespectfully and labels it as judgmental and narrow‑minded.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is the natural result of keeping the moral law?

It brings holiness, happiness, and justice.

What does a saintly life modeled on Christ reveal?

It reveals the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of God’s Law.

How does keeping the moral law lead to happiness on earth and in Heaven?

Keeping the moral law gives a foretaste on earth of the perfect happiness that awaits us in Heaven.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What are two extreme views that destroy the moral law’s call to justice?

One extreme view is to see moral behavior exclusively in terms of social justice. The other is to limit the scope of morality to individual actions only. The former might justify injustice to individuals in the name of the common good. The latter might justify ignoring the common good and focusing only on one’s own spiritual life.

What is the correct balance between social justice and individual morality?

The moral law calls us to try to establish a more just and peaceful society on earth and to ensure that our personal behavior is in accord with the moral law.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

FOCUS QUESTIONS

What is an unfortunately common attitude regarding moral issues in Western society today?

At present, a secularizing trend, which views morality and truth as subjective, is prevalent. Oftentimes, people who publicly hold a moral position on public policy issues are accused of imposing their personal moral views—or the moral views of their particular churches—on others. This view rejects the objective nature of the natural law.

Even though people call for tolerance of diverse points of view, which point of view is often rejected outright?

Toleration of divergent viewpoints today often is not extended to Christian morality. For example, this definition of toleration would require openness to the adoption of children by same‑sex partners, while the opposing view that homosexual adoption is wrong would not be tolerated.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Have the students work with a partner to break down into summary bullet points Supplementary Reading 5, “On the love of God and neighbor, serving others, and human dignity.”

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

GUIDED EXERCISE

Ask the class to brainstorm examples of moral practices that today’s society demands be tolerated, and identify Catholic positions that are sometimes labeled as intolerant.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

CLOSURE

Write a paragraph summarizing the relationship between the Commandments, the Gospels, the teaching of the Church, discipleship in Christ, the moral law, and the life of holiness.

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

Study Questions 37–39 (p. 28)

Practical Exercise 8 (p. 29)

Workbook Questions 36–40

Read Supplementary Reading 5 (pp. 23–24)

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8. Personal Fruits of the Moral Life in Christ and Conclusion (pp. 18–21)

ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT

This chapter began with the idea that many people see morality strictly in terms of a desire of Christianity to limit people’s happiness in regard to sexuality.

Based on what you have learned in this chapter, write a response to those who say that Christian morality is obsessed with questions of human sexuality.