People hunger for goodness and happiness in their lives. Yet, when I mention the words morality or virtue in a conversation, I see eyes glaze over and minds shut down. What is it about these words that turn people off, especially since these words represent all that one actually hopes for in this life? There is a definite disconnect. So, as an adjunct professor of Theology, who happens to teach a course called the Fundamentals of Catholic Moral Theology, let me help by connecting the dots.
First, let’s define morality and virtue:
Morality refers to the standards by which we judge actions to be good or evil. 1
Virtues assist the Christian in living the commandments as well as effectively pursuing a holy life in Christ. 2
At birth, God infused within each of us, His Natural Law; “which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie.” 3 So, there is no getting around it: We all know when we’ve done wrong, because our consciences let us know. Innately, we all know right from wrong.
Second, why people avoid embracing morality and virtue:
I personally think that people’s eyes glaze over and minds shut down when they hear words like morality and virtue, because we are all mired in sin. We know we are going against our consciences, yet we seek temporary temporal pleasure anyway. Rather than searching for a lifetime of happiness by living a virtuous life, we are satisfied with stolen moments of tangible pleasure/happiness. I think that’s a very short-sighted view; what a shame! We could have so much more if we would only awaken their hearts and minds to Christ. Trust me when I say, He won’t take away your “happiness” by following Him; He will increase it!!!
How to embrace morality and virtue:
Listen to that little voice inside of you that tries to warn you not to do something and take its advice – that’s your conscience speaking to you! By doing so, you will be adhering to God’s will to follow the good and shun evil.
Do your best to imitate Christ by being like Christ. Embrace the values that He espoused when He walked this earth. Be merciful and forgiving. Act with care and kindness. Share your love and generosity with others.
Knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly for the good (morality), and establishing good habits to imitate Christ (virtue), will result in a level of happiness for which you could not conceive. Therefore, satisfy your hunger, and take a big bite of morality and wash it down with virtue. Feel sated in Christ– that’s true happiness!
1 Armenio, Peter V. Our Moral Life in Christ, College Ed., Woodridge: Midwest Theological Forum, Print. 1997, p. 4
2 Ibid, p. 8
3 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Print, 1997, n. 1954