The Human Person and Christian Morality

Overview


Every human person is a being of immeasurable dignity because each is created in the image and likeness of God, with a spiritual and immortal soul (or spirit), intelligence and free will. God wants everyone to find eternal beatitude (happiness) and has placed this desire deep within every heart. Speaking of all dimensions of life in this world and beyond, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Only God alone can satisfy the human desire for fullness of life and enduring happiness. When St Augustine discovered this, he wrote: “You have made us for yourself O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” (St Augustine, Confessions, Chapter 1).

Humanity is faced with ‘big questions’; How should we live? What is goodness? Why should we act morally? How do we know what is right or wrong? What kind of life leads to real, and eternal, happiness? For Catholic Christians, faith in Jesus Christ is expressed in lives of loving service as his disciples.

Christian morality helps us discover how we should live our lives as a result of our faith in God’s word which has been revealed to us. Christian Morality can be summarized in the word responsibility. There are two components to this term: response and ability. To what do we respond? Christian life is a response to God’s freely given love and gift of salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ. ‘Following Christ is thus the essential and primordial foundation of Christian morality’ (Pope John Paul II, The Splendour of Truth, #19). Christian morality comes to the forefront when people say yes to God, when they freely respond to God’s love. The essence of Christian morality is, simply, love. Reflect on the words of Jesus: ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your sould, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: you must love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mt 22:37-39).

The second aspect of Christian morality is the ability to respond to God, the ability to love, the ability to say to say yes to God. This is also a gift, also freely bestowed on us. It is part of what it means to be a human being. Human persons have basic dignity which flows from our being created in God’s image (with a soul); this implies that we can think and love and be in relationship to others in community. Our conscience aids us in a life directed to God and other people.”
[Michael Pennock, The Seeker’s Catechism: The Basics of Catholicism, Notre Dame Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 1994,  p 43-44]

More Information

“This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Happy the gentle, they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn; they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right; they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful; they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure i heart; they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers; they shall be called children of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.”
(Matthew 5:2-12)

“Love one another as I have loved you ...” (John 15:12-14 )

The Law of the Gospel fulfils and surpasses the Old Law and brings it to perfection: its promises, through the Beatitudes of the Kingdom of heaven; its commandments, by reforming the heart, the root of human acts. (Catechism of the Catholic Church No 1984)

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, A Consistent Ethic of Life: An American – Catholic Dialogue, Gannon Lecture, Fordham University, December 6, 1983: Click to download pdf

‘TEN COMMANDMENTS’     Exodus 20:1-21         Deuteronomy 5:1-22

Catechism of the Catholic Church



(Paragraph numbers for the Catechism are shown - Click the Nos section to view)

Natural Law Nos 1954-1960

Moral Teaching in the Scriptures:
The Old Law   Nos 1961-1964 
The New Law or the Law of the Gospel  Nos 1965-1974 
IN BRIEF Nos 1975-1986  

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS  (Click here to view)
IN BRIEF  Nos 2075-2082  

 YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND  No 2083
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT – Worship and Serve God 
IN BRIEF  Nos 2133-2144
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT   (Click here to view)
IN BRIEF  Nos 2160-2167
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT  (Click here to view)
IN BRIEF  No 2189-2195 

YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF  No 2196
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT  (Click here to view)
IN BRIEF  Nos 2247-2257 
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT  No 2258
IN BRIEF  Nos 2318-2330 
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT  (Click here to view)
IN BRIEF  Nos 2392-4000 
THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT 2401  IN BRIEF  Nos 2450-2463 
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT  No 2464 
IN BRIEF  Nos 2404-2413 
THE NINTH COMMANDMENT  Nos 2514-2516  
IN BRIEF  Nos 2528-2533
THE TENTH COMMANDMENT  No 2534 
IN BRIEF  Nos 2551-2557 



Psalms and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, and Mass readings.

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