Shepherds of Christ  
       Daily Writing        
 

January 2, 2009

January 3rd Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 1 Period I.

The Novena Rosary Mysteries  
for January 3rd are Joyful.

 

 

Epiphany in Florida

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Prayer service at 6:20pm on January 4th

Prayer Services on January 5th

at 1:30pm and 6:20pm

 

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January 2, 2009

Writing by Rita Ring

 

Happy Birthday Kathleen!

1-888-211-3041
1-812-273-8405
1-888-321-7671

 

                God loves us so much  

                    Jesus gave us the Blue Books

                    Jesus calls us to love —

  

Revelation 3: 14-22

    ‘Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, "Here is the message of the Amen, the trustworthy, the true witness, the Principle of God’s creation: I know about your activities: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. You say to yourself: I am rich, I have made a fortune and have everything I want, never realising that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too. I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you truly rich, and white robes to clothe you and hide your shameful nakedness, and ointment to put on your eyes to enable you to see. I reprove and train those whom I love: so repent in real earnest. Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person’s side. Anyone who proves victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I have myself overcome and have taken my seat with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches." ’

   

                We were born —

                God created us —

                We are to witness — to
                    grow in greater love —
                    walking in the footprints
                    of Jesus —

 

 

                God calls us to witness

                Love and Example

                Holiness

                Following in the footprints of Jesus —

                Jesus Christ is our model!!

                Jesus shows us His Sacred Heart

                The fullness of Christian
                    witness —

                To live likened to Christ —

                Faith — Hope — Love, Joy

                The Catholic Church is the
                    Pillar of Truth —

                We are to seek more and more
                    to know the love of
                    Jesus —

                In this lies our happiness — as
                    baptized members of the
                    Catholic Church — we are
                    called to bear witness
                    to the truth — to the love
                    of God for His people.

                Our love for God must
                    be first in our life.

                We must find the truth
                    about the human person —
                    found in the Gospel

                We are to live Holy lives —
                    not rebellious lives —

                We are people of the
                    human race —
                    We are to pray for
                        the world.

                Help me begin these prayer chapters
                    praying for the priests, the Church
                    and the world.

                 My prayer to you dear Jesus is we get
              the postage to send the homily book to
              the priests.

 

 

                    Guard us God and help us and help us to
                get the book Response to God's Love to the
                priests an awesome book of Fr. Carter's —

 

Fr. Carter had a dream.

   

 

   

                Here is a quote from Chapter 1

 

Excerpt from Response to God's Love

The Mystery of Christ and

Christian Existence

    ...God himself is the ultimate mystery. Radically, God is completely other and transcendent, hidden from man in his inner life, unless he chooses to reveal himself. Let us briefly look at this inner life of God.

    The Father, in a perfect act of self-expression, in a perfect act of knowing, generates his son. The Son, the Word, is, then, the immanent expression of God's fullness, the reflection of the Father. Likewise, from all eternity, the Father and the Son bring forth the Holy Spirit in a perfect act of loving.

    At the destined moment in human history, God's self-expression, the Word, immersed himself into man's world. God's inner self-expression now had also become God's outer self-expression. Consequently, the mystery of God becomes the mystery of Christ. In Christ, God tells us about himself, about his inner life, about his plan of creation and redemption. He tells us how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit desire to dwell within us in the most intimate fashion, how they wish to share with us their own life through grace. All this he has accomplished and does accomplish through Christ.
St. Paul tells us: "I became a minister of this Church through the commission God gave me to preach among you his word in its fullness, that mystery hidden from ages and generations past but now revealed to his holy ones. God has willed to make known to them the glory beyond price which this mystery brings to the Gentiles—the mystery of Christ in you, your hope of glory. This is the Christ we proclaim while we admonish all men and teach them in the full measure of wisdom, hoping to make every man complete in Christ". (Col 1:25-28)

excerpt from Response to God's Love

 

                From today's first reading
 

 1 John 2: 22-28

Who is the liar, 
if not one who claims 
    that Jesus is not the Christ? 
This is the Antichrist, 
who denies both the Father and the Son. 
Whoever denies the Son 
    cannot have the Father either; 
whoever acknowledges the Son 
    has the Father too.

Let what you heard in the beginning
    remain in you;
as long as
    what you heard in the beginning
        remains in you,
you will remain in the Son
and in the Father.
And the promise he made you himself
is eternal life.
So much have I written to you
about those
    who are trying to lead you astray.
But as for you,
    the anointing you received from him
remains in you,
and you do not need anyone to teach you;
since the anointing he gave you
    teaches you everything,
and since it is true, not false,
remain in him just as he has taught you.
Therefore remain in him now, children,
so that when he appears
    we may be fearless,
and not shrink from him in shame
at his coming.

  

1 John 4: 11-18

My dear friends,
if God loved us so much,
we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God,
but as long as we love one another
God remains in us
and his love comes to its perfection in us.
This is the proof that we remain in him
and he in us,
that he has given us a share in his Spirit.
We ourselves have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son
as Saviour of the world.
Anyone who acknowledges
    that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have recognised for ourselves,
and put our faith in,
    the love God has for us.
God is love,
and whoever remains in love
    remains in God
and God in him.
Love comes to its perfection in us
when we can face
   the Day of Judgement fearlessly,
because even in this world
we have become as he is.
In love there is no room for fear,
but perfect love drives out fear,
because fear implies punishment
and no one who is afraid
   has come to perfection in love.
Let us love, then,
because he first loved us.

    

    

Excerpt from Tell My People

The Holy Spirit

Jesus: "My beloved friend, tell My people to pray daily to the Holy Spirit. They are to pray for an increase in His gifts. My people must realize that the Holy Spirit comes to transform them. The Spirit desires to transform you more and more according to My image. Those who are docile to His touch become increasingly shaped in My likeness. He performs this marvel within Mary's Immaculate Heart. The more one dwells in My Mother's Heart, the more active are the workings of the Spirit. The Spirit leads Mary to place you within My own Heart. In both Our Hearts, then, your transformation continues. The more you are formed after My own Heart, the more I lead you to the bosom of My Father. Tell My people all this. Tell them to pray daily for a greater appreciation of these wondrous gifts. I am Lord and Master. All who come to My Heart will be on fire to receive the gifts of the Spirit in ever greater measure! I love and bless My people!"

Reflection: The Holy Spirit is given to us to fashion us ever more according to the likeness of Jesus. And the more we are like Jesus, the more Jesus leads us to the Father. Do we, each day, pray to the Holy Spirit to be more open to His transforming influence? Do we strive each day to grow in union with Mary? The greater our union with our Mother, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the greater is the transforming action of the Holy Spirit within us.

end of Tell My People

  

  

                Excerpt from Response in Christ
                                        by Fr. Edward J. Carter, S.J.

 

                                                                            TWELVE     Life in the Holy Spirit
                   

 The Holy Spirit is with us, therefore, in a manner which elevates our human existence, gives us the enlightenment necessary for the perfection of this existence, and strengthens our wills for action according to this enlightenment.

The Holy Spirit can be present to the Christian in so many different situations. He is present to the young woman who is receiving a call to religious life. He is present to her in the pain and the joy of her decision. He strengthens her in the sense of loss she experiences as she plays with the children of her sister and realizes, if she follows the religious vocation, that she will never have children of her own. The Spirit, at the same time, enlightens this woman as to what her sacrifice can allow her to do for Christ, the Church and the world.

The Holy Spirit is present to the young man who aspires to be a missionary priest. He gives this person the generosity to sacrifice so many human values, homeland included. He gives him the courage to follow his convictions despite the possible lack of comprehension of loved ones.

The Holy Spirit is present to the Christian who is perpetually bedridden. He gives the light which is necessary to see the great value such a life can possess. He gives the strength for the person to live according to this light.

The presence of the Spirit makes itself manifest in the growing number of lay people who are giving themselves to a fuller Christian life and to various types of apostolic involvement. The Spirit is revealing to this laity, perhaps as never before, that they are called to greatness in Christ as are the priest and the religious.

The Holy Spirit wants to be present to all the People of God in an ever increasing degree. He wants to be present to them in their joy and their happiness, in their pain and sorrow, in their successes and failures, in their hopes and disappointments. This presence of the Spirit has as its goal the greater assimilation to Christ of the People of God, individually and collectively. In the Spirit, the People of God are called upon to reincarnate Christ ever more perfectly as the redemption is continued and brought closer to its culmination in Christ's second coming, the parousia.

It is extremely important that the members of the People of God realize more vividly that the Holy Spirit wants to be more vitally present to them. It is not only the hierarchical ministers who are guided by the Spirit. "For there are charismata, that is, the impulsion and guidance of God's Spirit for the Church, in addition to and outside her official ministry."2

NOTE:

2. Karl Rahner, The dynamic Element in the Church (New York: Herder & Herder, 1964), p. 49.

    end of excerpt

 

 

                Song: A Priest is a Gift from God

Excerpt of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, by Louis J. Puhl, S.J. pp. 141-146

  

313. RULES FOR DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS
I

Rules for understanding to some extent the different movements produced in the soul and for recognizing those that are good to admit them, and those that are bad, to reject them. These rules are more suited to the first week
  

314.  I.  In the case of those who go from one mortal sin to another, the enemy is ordinarily accustomed to propose apparent pleasures. He fills their imagination with sensual delights and gratifications, the more readily to keep them in their vices and increase the number of their sins.

    With such persons the good spirit uses a method which is the reverse of the above. Making use of the light of reason, he will rouse the sting of conscience and fill them with remorse.

315.  2.  In the case of those who go on earnestly striving to cleanse their souls from sin and who seek to rise in the service of God our Lord to greater perfection, the method pursued is the opposite of that mentioned in the first rule.

    Then it is characteristic of the evil spirit to harass with anxiety, to afflict with sadness, to raise obstacles backed by fallacious reasonings that disturb the soul. Thus he seeks to prevent the soul from advancing.

    It is characteristic of the good spirit, however, to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations, and peace. This He does by making all easy, by removing all obstacles so that the soul goes forward in doing good.

316.  3.  SPIRITUAL CONSOLATION.  I call it consolation when an interior movement is aroused in the soul, by which it is inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord, and as a consequence, can love no creature on the face of the earth for its own sake, but only in the Creator of them all. It is likewise consolation when one sheds tears that move to the love of God, whether it be because of sorrow for sins, or because of the sufferings of Christ our Lord, or for any other reason that is immediately directed to the praise and service of God. Finally, I call consolation every increase of faith, hope, and love, and all interior joy that invites and attracts to what is heavenly and to the salvation of one's soul by filling it with peace and quiet in its Creator and Lord.

317.  4.  SPIRITUAL DESOLATION.  I call desolation what is entirely the opposite of what is described in the third rule, as darkness of soul, turmoil of spirit, inclination to what is low and earthly, restlessness rising from many disturbances and temptations which lead to want of faith, want of hope, want of love. The soul is wholly slothful, tepid, sad, and separated, as it were, from its Creator and Lord. For just as consolation is the opposite of desolation, so the thoughts that spring from consolation are the opposite of those that spring from desolation.

318.  5.  In time of desolation we should never make any change, but remain firm and constant in the resolution and decision which guided us the day before the desolation, or in the decision to which we adhered in the preceding consolation. For just as in consolation the good spirit guides and counsels us, so in desolation the evil spirit guides and counsels. Following his counsels we can never find the way to a right decision.

319.  6.  Though in desolation we must never change our former resolutions, it will be very advantageous to intensify our activity against the desolation. We can insist more upon prayer, upon meditation, and on much examination of ourselves. We can make an effort in a suitable way to do some penance.

320.  7.  When one is in desolation, he should be mindful that God has left him to his natural powers to resist the different agitations and temptations of the enemy in order to try him. He can resist with the help of God, which always remains, though he may not clearly perceive it. For though God has taken from him the abundance of fervor and overflowing love and the intensity of His favors, nevertheless, he has sufficient grace for eternal salvation.

321.  8.  When one is in desolation, he should strive to persevere in patience. This reacts against the vexations that have overtaken him. Let him consider, too, that consolation will soon return, and in the meantime, he must diligently use the means against desolation which have been given in the sixth rule.

322.  9.  The principal reasons why we suffer from desolation are three:

    The first is because we have been tepid and slothful or negligent in our exercises of piety, and so through our own fault spiritual consolation has been taken away from us.

    The second reason is because God wishes to try us, to see how much we are worth, and how much we will advance in His service and praise when left without the generous reward of consolations and signal favors.

    The third reason is because God wishes to give us a true knowledge and understanding of ourselves, so that we may have an intimate perception of the fact that it is not within our power to acquire and attain great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation; but that all this is the gift and grace of God our Lord. God does not wish us to build on the property of another, to rise up in spirit in a certain pride and vainglory and attribute to ourselves the devotion and other effects of spiritual consolation.

323.  10.  When one enjoys consolation, let him consider how he will conduct himself during the time of ensuing desolation, and store up a supply of strength as defense against that day.

324.  11.  He who enjoys consolation should take care to humble himself and lower himself as much as possible. Let him recall how little he is able to do in time of desolation, when he is left without such grace or consolation.

    On the other hand, one who suffers desolation should remember that by making use of the sufficient grace offered him, he can do much to withstand all his enemies. Let him find his strength in his Creator and Lord.

325.  12.  The enemy conducts himself as a woman. He is a weakling before a show of strength, and a tyrant if he has his will. It is characteristic of a woman in a quarrel with a man to lose courage and take to flight if the man shows that he is determined and fearless. However, if the man loses courage and begins to flee, the anger, vindictiveness, and rage of the woman surge up and know no bounds. In the same way, the enemy becomes weak, loses courage, and turns to flight with his seductions as soon as one leading a spiritual life faces his temptations boldly, and does exactly the opposite of what he suggests. However, if one begins to be afraid and to lose courage in temptations, no wild animal on earth can be more fierce than the enemy of our human nature. He will carry out his perverse intentions with consummate malice.

326.  13.  Our enemy may also be compared in his manner of acting to a false lover. He seeks to remain hidden and does not want to be discovered. If such a lover speaks with evil intention to the daughter of a good father, or to the wife of a good husband, and seeks to seduce them, he wants his words and solicitations kept secret. He is greatly displeased if his evil suggestions and depraved intentions are revealed by the daughter to her father, or by the wife to her husband. Then he readily sees he will not succeed in what he has begun. In the same way, when the enemy of our human nature tempts a just soul with his wiles and seductions, he earnestly desires that they be received secretly and kept secret. But if one manifests them to a confessor, or to some other spiritual person who understands his deceits and malicious designs, the evil one is very much vexed. For he knows that he cannot succeed in his evil undertaking, once his evident deceits have been revealed.

327.  14.  The conduct of our enemy may also be compared to the tactics of a leader intent upon seizing and plundering a position he desires. A commander and leader of an army will encamp, explore the fortifications and defenses of the stronghold, and attack at the weakest point. In the same way, the enemy of our human nature investigates from every side all our virtues, theological, cardinal, and moral. Where he finds the defenses of eternal salvation weakest and most deficient, there he attacks and tries to take us by storm.

  

328. RULES FOR DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS
II

Further rules for understanding the different movements produced in the soul. They serve for a more accurate discernment of spirits and are more suitable for the second week
  

329.  I.  It is characteristic of God and His Angels, when they act upon the soul, to give true happiness and spiritual joy, and to banish all the sadness and disturbances which are caused by the enemy.
   It is characteristic of the evil one to fight against such happiness and consolation by proposing fallacious reasonings, subtilties, and continual deceptions.

330.  2.  God alone can give consolation to the soul without any previous cause. It belongs solely to the Creator to come into a soul, to leave it, to act upon it, to draw it wholly to the love of His Divine Majesty. I said without previous cause, that is, without any preceding perception or knowledge of any subject by which a soul might be led to such a consolation through its own acts of intellect and will.

331.  3.  If a cause precedes, both the good angel and the evil spirit can give consolation to a soul, but for a quite different purpose. The good angel consoles for the progress of the soul, that it may advance and rise to what is more perfect. The evil spirit consoles for purposes that are the contrary, and that afterwards he might draw the soul to his own perverse intentions and wickedness.

332.  4.  It is a mark of the evil spirit to assume the appearance of an angel of light. He begins by suggesting thoughts that are suited to a devout soul, and ends by suggesting his own. For example, he will suggest holy and pious thoughts that are wholly in conformity with the sanctity of the soul. Afterwards, he will endeavor little by little to end by drawing the soul into his hidden snares and evil designs.

333.  5.  We must carefully observe the whole course of our thoughts. If the beginning and middle and end of the course of thoughts are wholly good and directed to what is entirely right, it is a sign that they are from the good angel. But the course of thoughts suggested to us may terminate in something evil, or distracting, or less good than the soul had formerly proposed to do. Again, it may end in what weakens the soul, or disquiets it; or by destroying the peace, tranquility, and quiet which it had before, it may cause disturbance to the soul. These things are a clear sign that the thoughts are proceeding from the evil spirit, the enemy of our progress and eternal salvation.

334.  6.  When the enemy of our human nature has been detected and recognized by the trail of evil marking his course and by the wicked end to which he leads us, it will be profitable for one who has been tempted to review immediately the whole course of the temptation. Let him consider the series of good thoughts, how they arose, how the evil one gradually attempted to make him step down from the state of spiritual delight and joy in which he was, till finally he drew him to his wicked designs. The purpose of this review is that once such an experience has been understood and carefully observed, we may guard ourselves for the future against the customary deceits of the enemy.

335.  7.  In souls that are progressing to greater perfection, the action of the good angel is delicate, gentle, delightful. It may be compared to a drop of water penetrating a sponge.
    The action of the evil spirit upon such souls is violent, noisy, and disturbing. It may be compared to a drop of water falling upon a stone.
    In souls that are going from bad to worse, the action of the spirits mentioned above is just the reverse. The reason for this is to be sought in the opposition or similarity of these souls to the different kinds of spirits. When the disposition is contrary to that of the spirits, they enter with noise and commotion that are easily perceived. When the disposition is similar to that of the spirits, they enter silently, as one coming into his own house when the doors are open.

336.  8.  When consolation is without previous cause, as was said, there can be no deception in it, since it can proceed from God our Lord only. But a spiritual person who has received such a consolation must consider it very attentively, and must cautiously distinguish the actual time of the consolation from the period which follows it. At such a time the soul is still fervent and favored with the grace and aftereffects of the consolation which has passed. In this second period the soul frequently forms various resolutions and plans which are not granted directly by God our Lord. They may come from our own reasoning on the relations of our concepts and on the consequences of our judgments, or they may come from the good or evil spirit. Hence, they must be carefully examined before they are given full approval and put into execution.

end of excerpt of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

    

 

Romans 5: 12-21

Well then; it was through one man that sin came into the world, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. Sin already existed in the world before there was any law, even though sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Nonetheless death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not the breaking of a commandment, as Adam's was. He prefigured the One who was to come . . .

    There is no comparison between the free gift and the offence. If death came to many through the offence of one man, how much greater an effect the grace of God has had, coming to so many and so plentifully as a free gift through the one man Jesus Christ! Again, there is no comparison between the gift and the offence of one man. One single offence brought condemnation, but now, after many offences, have come the free gift and so acquittal! It was by one man’s offence that death came to reign over all, but how much greater the reign in life of those who receive the fullness of grace and the gift of saving justice, through the one man, Jesus Christ. One man’s offence brought condemnation on all humanity; and one man’s good act has brought justification and life to all humanity. Just as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience are many to be made upright. When law came on the scene, it was to multiply the offences. But however much sin increased, grace was always greater; so that as sin’s reign brought death, so grace was to rule through saving justice that leads to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Romans 8: 5-9

Those who are living by their natural inclinations have their minds on the things human nature desires; those who live in the Spirit have their minds on spiritual things. And human nature has nothing to look forward to but death, while the Spirit looks forward to life and peace, because the outlook of disordered human nature is opposed to God, since it does not submit to God's Law, and indeed it cannot, and those who live by their natural inclinations can never be pleasing to God. You, however, live not by your natural inclinations, but by the Spirit, since the Spirit of God has made a home in you. Indeed, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

    

Psalm 150: 1-6

Alleluia! 

Praise God in his holy place, 
praise him in the heavenly vault of his power, 
praise him for his mighty deeds, 
praise him for all his greatness. 

Praise him with fanfare of trumpet, 
praise him with harp and lyre, 
praise him with tambourines and dancing, 
praise him with strings and pipes, 
praise him with the clamour of cymbals, 
praise him with triumphant cymbals, 
Let everything that breathes praise Yahweh. 

Alleluia!

 

Luke 22: 19

Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.

 

                Epiphany, appearance of a divine being
                        manifestation

                The feast of the Magi —

                the wise men was formerly celebrated

                January 6 in the Western rite —

                January 5 in the Eastern rite

                It is now celebrated on the Sunday nearest
                    January 6 —

2 Timothy 1: 9-10

who has saved us and called us to be holy-not because of anything we ourselves had done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has been revealed only by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus. He has abolished death, and he has brought to light immortality and life through the gospel,

 

2 Thessalonians 2: 8-12

and the wicked One will appear openly. The Lord will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and will annihilate him with his glorious appearance at his coming. But the coming of the wicked One will be marked by Satan being at work in all kinds of counterfeit miracles and signs and wonders, and every wicked deception aimed at those who are on the way to destruction because they would not accept the love of the truth and so be saved. And therefore God sends on them a power that deludes people so that they believe what is false, and so that those who do not believe the truth and take their pleasure in wickedness may all be condemned.

    

1 Timothy 6: 14-16

to do all that you have been told, with no faults or failures, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 

who at the due time will be revealed 
by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, 
the King of kings and the Lord of lords, 
who alone is immortal, 
whose home is in inaccessible light, 
whom no human being has seen 
    or is able to see: 
to him be honour and everlasting power. 
    Amen.

  

1 John 4: 1-4

My dear friends,
not every spirit is to be trusted,
but test the spirits
   to see whether they are from God,
for many false prophets
   are at large in the world.
This is the proof of the spirit of God:
any spirit
   which acknowledges Jesus Christ,
      come in human nature,
is from God,
and no spirit
   which fails to acknowledge Jesus
is from God;
it is the spirit of Antichrist,
whose coming you have heard of;
he is already at large in the world.
Children, you are from God
and have overcome them,
because he who is in you
is greater than he who is in the world.

  

1 John 5: 5

Who can overcome the world
but the one who believes
    that Jesus is the Son of God?

   

1 John 5: 11-12

This is the testimony:
God has given us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life,
and whoever has not the Son of God
    has not life.
 

   

 

1 John 1: 5

This is what we have heard from him
and are declaring to you:
God is light,
    and there is no darkness in him at all.
 

 

 

 

Excerpt from Response in Christ
                                        by Fr. Edward J. Carter, S.J.

   

ELEVEN Other Christian Virtues

 

We have been considering faith, hope and love. Love is served by faith and hope, and the three together are the most important of the Christian virtues. Yet they cannot stand alone. Other virtues are needed to remove impediments to the exercise of love and to allow for love's expression in the various dimensions of human existence. Taken together, the theological and moral virtues are positive dispositions of the Christian person. They may also be conceived of as certain attitudes1 which determine the manner in which the Christian takes his stance before God, man, and the rest of creation.

In our continued treatment of various Christian virtues, let us remember that they must always be seen in their relationship with Christ.2 Each of them according to its individual finality is meant to deepen our incorporation into Him. Each of them in its own way allows us to live out Christ's death-resurrection. 

1.  Humility

Humility essentially is truth. It is the realization of what we are as creatures of God. It is also the correct implementation of this realization in our Christian lives. Humility therefore is not an exercise in self-depreciation. Humility is not telling myself that I am no good, that I really have nothing of any significance to contribute to the service of God and man. Again, humility is truth. It is compatible with the recognition that God has given a person certain gifts, even great gifts, of nature and grace. Indeed, God wants us to recognize these gifts. Otherwise we do not thank Him for them as we should, nor properly develop these gifts according to His will. But if God wants us to recognize the good which is in us, He also wants us to realize the source of this goodness. Although we have to cooperate with His graces, God is the one who is chiefly responsible for what we are. If a person has advanced in the Christian life beyond another, it is ultimately because God has given that person greater graces.

    It should be obvious then why the spiritual masters throughout the history of Christian spirituality have emphasized humility. God is a God of truth. He will not contribute to our living according to a lie. If we attribute the good within us mainly to our own efforts, this establishes an obstacle to God's grace. In the Letter of James we read: ". . . as scripture says: God opposes the proud but he gives generously to the humble. Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. . . Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up." (Jn 4:6-10).

    If humility is truth, and therefore allows for the proper recognition of my gifts, it also necessitates my admitting to the evil within me. This is also part of the truth. This truth also must be acted upon; for Christian humility not only allows me to admit that there is evil in me, but it also tells me that as a creature of God I should conform myself to His will and strive to eradicate and control the evil as far as this is possible. In summary, humility allows the Christian to evaluate properly both the good and evil in himself.

    Humility likewise allows us properly to accept the human condition with all its various ramifications. One aspect of the human condition is the fact that we suffer at times because of the human limitations and sinfulness of others. To rebel in these situations is to fail to realize what it means to be part of the human condition. It is a failure to relate properly in truth to reality. It is a failure in humility. Christ, the sinless one, the perfect one, suffered tremendously because of the human condition, but He did not rebel. He realized what it meant to be man. He realized that to be man means to accept the fact that one at times is going to suffer because of the evil of others. Christ did not flinch. As man He fully accepted His creaturehood with all its ramifications; He was truly humble.

    Another sign of Christian humility is one's willingness to live out the various implications of being social persons. A proud person is an independent person who in many ways refuses to admit the social dimension of his being. He does not readily admit that he needs others. He also can refuse to admit his obligation to help others. To be available to others in their manifold needs demands a price. A proud person, closed in upon his own self-interests, often is not willing to pay this price. Whether it is a question of receiving from others or giving to others, humility helps to remind us of a truth we have mentioned before: no man is an island.

    Humility also bids a person to accept himself as he has come forth from the creative hand of God. God has given us certain fundamental talents. These can be great. They can also be ordinary. God has also given each of us a certain basic temperament and personality, and we must realize that He leads us on in Christian holiness according to this fundamental structure.3 This is not to say that we are not to improve upon our essential structure as indicated; it is rather a question of not striving to become what God does not intend us to be.

    Humility likewise leads a person to seek and fulfill God's appointed task for him in life. To act in this way is to exercise humility because it is a realization of what it means to be God's creature. We cannot always be as sure of our role in life as we would like. But if we utilize prayer and the other means available we can be as certain as God wants us to be, and this is what matters. Within this God-given role, we should try to give our reasonable best each day despite the possible monotony, frustration or hiddeness of our work. We must give our attention primarily to the task of the present. All of us are tempted at times to live too much in the past or too much in the future. This can be caused by a lack of humility (although not necessarily so). For to fail to live properly in the present can mean that we are dissatisfied with the tasks and circumstances which Providence here and now put before us. If this is the truth of the matter, it means we are failing to some extent to act as a creature before our Creator. It is to fail in humility.

    A truth attached to the practice of Christian humility which we find difficult to accept is the fact that we must be willing to accept humiliations properly. This generally is always difficult for us despite the presence of God's grace. It perhaps is made more difficult in the type of culture which surrounds us. But the difficulty involved cannot relieve us of the necessity of reacting properly to insults and humiliations. We should not give occasion for humiliations, but our humility will never be a solid one unless we properly accept these when they do occur. Christ has shown the way. "Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, "Hail, king of the Jews! " And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it." (Mt 27:28-30).

    But, of course, it is not only in regard to reacting properly to insults and humiliations that Christ has given us an example. Humility in all its aspects is perfectly summed up in the man Jesus: "In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus: His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross." (Ph 2:5-8).

2. Courage

Christian courage or fortitude is that virtue which disposes us to face maturely the difficult in Christ's service. The necessity of this virtue is evident from our own inner experience. We all have a tendency to shrink from that which poses a difficulty or which frightens us. Numerous Christians never develop their life in Christ to its destined potential precisely because they do not bring themselves to confront the arduous when God's will leads in this direction.

    We should not think that courage is usually to be exercised concerning matters of great moment.  As with the exercise of all the Christian virtues, courage customarily finds its expression within the prosaic framework of everyday life. This type of setting demands its own kind of courage. To confront properly the rather uneventful duties of our vocation day in and day out demands fortitude. All states of life are confronted with this challenge. To evade the challenge is to thwart our growth in Christ.

    At times Christian courage must be exercised concerning matters of greater moment. An example is the decision involving one's state of life. This type of decision can demand the greatest fortitude in certain instances. It is commonly known that some Catholic parents oppose the religious or priestly vocations of their children. This is particularly true as regards their daughters. Those who have experienced this opposition know the great suffering involved and the courage which is necessary to follow God's will faithfully.

    After the Christian has chosen a particular state of life, numerous occasions can arise which demand more than ordinary courage. It can be a question of choosing a particular type of work.  Such a choice can demand sacrifices. Many of the lay men and women who have taught in Catholic schools are an example of the point we are making. Often they have made financial sacrifices in order to make their particular contribution to the Church's work.  Of course, these decisions of courage and sacrifice must be compatible with one's existing obligations, towards one's family, for example.

    There are many other possibilities of decision-making which can demand considerable, even great, courage. Those who hold important positions in the Church, in government, in industry, and in the military, offer examples. Their decisions can affect the lives of many, even of millions. Often these decisions are not necessarily popular ones. Whatever the case may be, those who have to decide in these momentous matters are aware of what true courage can demand.

    There is another obvious area for the application of the virtue of courage. Any committed Christian who seriously gives himself to the development of his Christ-life will be exposed to some extent to interior trials of one type or other. It may be a question of severe temptation, of dryness in prayer or a seeming inability to pray at all, of an apparent darkening of faith, of the passive purifications which accompany certain mystical graces. There are numerous possibilities.  Whatever form the difficulty may assume, the dedicated Christian realizes the need of fortitude. He knows that growth in the Christ-life is not always a smooth development.

    We have described some of the existential situations which involve the use of Christian courage or fortitude. God has infused this virtue along with our fundamental life of grace. No matter how great the difficulty which may face us, we have to believe in this capacity of strength which God has instilled in us and act accordingly. St. Paul gives us an example of how the Christian is to confront the arduous: "We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been  persecuted,  but  never  deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body." (2 Co 4:7-10). 

3. Temperance

If fortitude allows us to relate properly to the difficult, the virtue of temperance permits us to regulate properly the pleasurable in our lives. Temperance moderates and controls the tendency we have toward sense-pleasure. In giving us this virtue, God has actually provided for our greater enjoyment of sense-pleasure. For moderation increases our capacity to enjoy. The temperate person can enjoy a glass of beer more than a drunkard. He uses drink as a rational being is supposed to, and he accordingly receives the enjoyment which God has attached to the proper use of things.

    Since our two strongest inclinations in this matter of sense-pleasure are toward food and drink and the use of our sexual powers, temperance is especially concerned with these areas. Human experience emphasizes the great necessity of this virtue. God has attached great pleasure to the functions of taste and sex precisely because the preservation of the human race depends on them. Because of the type of pleasure connected with taste and sex, a lack of control here can lead to grave excesses and create great obstacles to the Christian life. As regards excesses involving the palate, the obvious one is the misuse of alcoholic beverages. In numerous cases the abuse of strong drink is due to the disease of alcoholism. It is not to our purpose to discuss this problem here. There already exist many fine treatments of this question which the interested reader can consult.

    Temperance or control of one's sexual faculties is, we know, called chastity. All are called to their form of chastity – the non-married laity, the married, the priest and the religious. It is a question of using or not using sex according to God's will. But as contemporary thought on chastity in the various states of life emphasizes, this virtue should always be seen in terms of love. Whatever one's vocation, the practice of his particular kind of chastity is meant to enable him to love ever more authentically God and man. When the Christian practices chastity according to his state in life, he is meant to give testimony to this fact. The truly chaste person is one who is trying to love properly.

    There are various other types of sense-pleasure besides those involving taste and sexual enjoyment. God has provided for our recreation and relaxation in so many ways, and often the senses are involved. God wants us to have our proper share of this type of enjoyment, and the exercise of the virtue of temperance insures that we pursue our enjoyment according to His will. Let us allow ourselves needed pleasure and recreation. On the other hand, we who live in an affluent society have to be aware that our culture is peculiarly open to excess in this matter of sense-pleasure. If we do not avoid this excess, we not only harm ourselves, but in various ways we lessen our capacity to serve others. For instance, there are some Christians who waste precious time in the pursuit of excessive pleasure. If they devoted this time in some form of service to their fellowman, would not this be a different world?  When we seriously consider the matter, is it not really tragic that a Christian can waste so much time in frivolous and useless activity while so many crucial needs of man go unattended? 

4. Justice

The virtue of justice disposes us to render to others what is their due. One obvious application of justice concerns our respecting the ownership rights of others in regard to their material goods. Justice also forbids us to inflict physical harm on others without sufficient reason. An example of this type of justifying reason would be the case of legitimate self-defense. Justice also bids us to honor the good name of others by avoiding sins of slander and calumny. Many seemingly do not realize the damage they can do through talk of this kind.

    The world of work, professional service and commerce also involves various applications of justice. The laborer must give an honest day's work and the employer is obligated to render a just wage. The teacher must realize his duty to his students by properly preparing his classes and by progressing in the knowledge of his field.  The doctor must maintain proper medical knowledge in justice to those he serves. Manufacturers of goods as well as wholesale and retail distributors must establish just prices.

    The Christian must also be aware of his obligations in relationship to the great social problems which plaque his own and other nations. There is the blatant evil of world poverty which affects every country in the world to some degree. For us Americans there is also the grave problem of racial inequality, a problem which has deeply scarred our national life. It is a sad, sad fact that too often those who claim to be good Christians have violently opposed the struggle of the black man to attain his rights. We have an example of this in the opposition to open housing which has too many times issued forth from predominantly white Christian neighborhoods.

    As regards these pressing problems involving social justice, there is no time like the present for concrete action. We catholics have too long possessed the social teaching of the Church without giving a sufficient response in concrete action. Pope John XXIII has wisely told us:

    If it is indeed difficult to apply teaching of any sort to concrete situations, it is even more so when one tries to put into practice the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding social affairs. This is especially true for the following reasons: there is deeply rooted in each man an instinctive and immoderate love of his own interests; today there is widely diffused in society a materialistic philosophy of life; it is difficult at times to discern the demands of justice in a given situation.

    Consequently, it is not enough for men to be instructed, according to the teachings of the Church, on their obligation to act in a Christian manner in economic and social affairs. They must also be shown ways in which they can properly fulfill their duty in this regard.

    We do not regard such instructions as sufficient, unless there be added to the work of instruction that of the formation of man, and unless some action follow upon the teaching, by way of experience.4 

5. Obedience

Obedience disposes the Christian to relate properly to authority. In turn, all authority has been established by God. Concerning civil authority, St. Paul comments: "You must all obey the governing authorities. Since all government comes from God, the civil authorities were appointed by God, and so anyone who resists authority is rebelling against God's decision, and such an act is bound to be punished." (Rm 13:1-2). If God has established authority in civil society, He also, obviously, has established authority within the Church. In the words of Vatican II: "Therefore, the sacred council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and that he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and him who sent Christ (Cf. Lk 10-16)."5  This authority of bishops is shared by others in the Church, such as pastors and religious superiors.

    In our second chapter we have already treated to some extent authority and obedience within the Church. It is a question here of continuing that discussion.

    Authority in the Church is aimed at building up the Body of Christ. It is concerned with developing the Christ-life within the members of the People of God. It is concerned with making the Church a more authentic continuation of the redemptive Incarnation. To do this properly, authority must realize its service role. The People of God do not exist for the sake of authority, but rather authority exists for the People of God. The People of God, in obedience to authority, are aided in their growth in Christ; for authority is meant to help channel the will of God and aid in its implementation. God has indeed chosen to manifest His will partly through Church authority. In this He respects man's nature. Man has a social dimension and therefore is meant to live in community. Life in community, in turn, demands authority.

    For too many years, however, authority in the Church has to some extent failed to realize its service function. Happily, a new theology of authority and of person is emerging to correct the situation. Formerly there was too much emphasis given to authority and to external law in the Church to the detriment of other values such as personal dignity, freedom and initiative.

    Actually, authority is at the service of the freedom possessed by the members of the People of God.6 Christ has come to perfect our freedom. He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us to the fullness of freedom through the exercise of our Christ-like. We are meant to become more free the more we open ourselves up to God's self-communication in Christ. The more we choose God in Christ the freer we become, for we were created free in order to choose God and His will in all its various dimensions of our lives.

    Authority in the Church must respect the People of God's freedom in Christ. Those exercising authority must realize that the members of Christ grow primarily through the interior workings of the Holy Spirit. This is why there must be some sort of continual dialogue between these possessing authority and those whom they serve. Otherwise, how can the holders of authority know the various ways according to which the Holy Spirit seems to be leading the People of God? Thus unaware, how can authority perform one of its tasks: confirming and helping to direct these workings of the Spirit?

    Because authority is meant to assist the workings of the Holy Spirit – the perfecter of freedom – as He leads the People of God, the external law of the Church should become much more general. This is so because of the unique individuality of each member of the Church. The Holy Spirit, it is true, will lead all according to the basic pattern of the mystery of Christ. But He also respects the uniqueness of each person. When Church law becomes too detailed, it tends to hamper the workings of the Holy Spirit in respect to this uniqueness. Happily, the reform of Church law gives every indication of becoming much less detailed.

    In describing the nature and purpose of authority in the Church, we have at the same time been discussing its necessity. In God's plan the role of authority in the Church is one which cannot be dispensed with. Consequently, if we do not relate properly through obedience to Church authority we will never achieve the desired maturity in Christ.

    Finally, we  make  this  observation.  The present-day Church needs to be protected against two different classes of people. First, the Church is harmed by that group who want authority-obedience to be exercised in exactly the same way as in the past. These people are failing to read the signs of the times properly. Secondly, the Church is harmed by that group who practically want to abolish all authority in the Church, or at least see no necessity for their individual conformity. Does this group really accept the Church as instituted by Christ?

    At this point we briefly mention the religious state, since its members are called in a special way to the exercise of Christian obedience. In general, we can state that what has been posited concerning authority-obedience in the Church at large also holds true for authority-obedience in religious life. It is a question of intensification.

    There are several points we wish to emphasize from our above discussion. First, if religious superiors are truly convinced that their exercise of authority is meant to promote the growth in Christ of their religious, they must realize that their authority cannot in all aspects be exercised as in the past. There must be added attention given to the fact that the religious grows in Christ when he or she is allowed to exercise initiative and responsibility as much as possible. Religious superiors must also realize that God has given each religious certain capacities and desires as regards one's work. These are one indication of God's will for an individual, as long as such factors are balanced by other manifestations of the divine will. Sometimes these manifestations of God's will are contradictory, and a prudent decision has to be made. Superiors must likewise be aware of another very important factor we mentioned above. The Holy Spirit always leads a person to further growth in Christ in a manner which is to some extent always different from His guidance of others. Again, this truth is rooted in the uniqueness of each person and each person's graces.

    All this points to the necessity of a certain basic dialogue between superior and subject. How else will the superior fully know of the capacity of the religious for initiative and responsibility?  Or how will the superior know of the subject's interests, of how the Holy Spirit seems to be leading this individual?

    We have a second point for emphasis. Just as the law of the Church for all her members should become more general, less detailed, and more rooted in the spirit of the gospel, so the renewed rules and constitutions for a religious order or congregation should be likewise conceived. The purpose is the same as pointed out for the Church at large. When rules for religious become too many and too detailed, those tend to thwart the action of the Holy Spirit within individuals.

    If religious superiors have an obligation to govern according to the signs of the times, religious subjects have a corresponding duty to obey according to the same signs. The renewal in the Church is calling for a greater maturity on the part of Christians. Religious, then, have to realize they are called to a greater maturity in the practice of their obedience. For instance, they have to be willing to develop their initiative as much as possible, while at the same time having the disposition to bear with the suffering involved if obedience leads away from the particular line of action which initiative had taken.

    The mature religious realizes also that as the external rules and structure of his life become less detailed and rigid, his sense of obedience will lead him to assume a greater personal responsibility for growth in Christ. For authority relaxes external structure in order to promote greater individual freedom and responsibility in spiritual growth. One is not therefore being truly obedient if he does not assume this responsibility.

    The mature religious also realizes that the contemporary practice of obedience involves a certain tension. On the one hand religious superiors are allowing for increased initiative, freedom and responsibility on the part of subjects. On the other hand, the individual religious must realize that he is to assimilate these new dimensions according to the framework of community. This is not always easy. Increased opportunities for the exercise of freedom, responsibility and initiative can be abused, and the individual can come to prefer his misconceived self-fulfillment to the good of the religious community and to the good of the Church. After all, renewal in the concepts of authority and obedience is aimed at making a more Christ-like Christian, and therefore a more selfless one, one who thinks less and less of himself and his self-fulfillment, and, consequently, one who truly finds his life and fulfillment in a greater service of love rendered in Christ to God and man.  

6. Sociableness

Because the Christian life is expressed socially within the Church and within the wider community of mankind, sociableness is a very necessary attitude. Sociableness is a characteristic which makes our Christianity acceptable and pleasing to others. It allows the various Christian virtues, especially love, to be projected attractively in one's dealings with others. The necessity of this is immediately evident. Each of us, according to his unique person, is a continuation and expression of Christ. Christ is the supremely acceptable one. In our loyalty to Christ, Who reincarnates Himself in us, we have the responsibility of making ourselves pleasing and acceptable to others as far as possible. We do this sincerely, authentically, without presenting a facade, and without sacrificing principle, with Christ as the Model.

    There are various attitudes connected with sociableness. Perhaps the most important is kindness. Without kindness, how can I ever really make myself present to another and open myself to that other's presence? Kindness is closely akin to respect for another, and for all that the other is and can become. "Kindness means that one is well disposed toward life. Whever he encounters a living being, the kind man's first reaction is not to mistrust and criticize but to respect, to value, and to promote development."7 A logical consequence of kindness is approachability. Who is afraid to approach a kind person? Contrariwise, even the bold and the daring hesitate to confront one who is unkind.

    Joyousness is another aspect of sociableness. We all do not have the same type of temperament. Some are much more effervescent than others, and their expression of Christian joy will obviously posses a greater ebullience. The more subdued will radiate joy through a form which closely resembles serenity. Whatever the case may be, we are not fully Christians unless we contribute our share of joy to our social encounters with another, several, or many. Closely allied with joy is the ability to jest and see the humorous side of life. He who never jests is a bore, and he who cannot observe the humorous aspect of the human condition does not see life in its completeness.

    Politeness and gratitude are other characteristics which should obviously mark our encounter with others. And the necessity of truthfulness as a basic ingredient of man's social relationships is succinctly pointed out by Guardini: ". . . our whole existence depends upon truth. . . The relations of people to each other, social institutions, government – all that we call civilization and man's work in its countless forms – depend on a respect for truth."8

    There is another Christian attitude which is of obvious importance in our dealings with others. We speak of empathy. To a great degree others experience our love for them through their observation of our ability to share their feelings and ideas. Of course, this sharing can extend over the entire gamut of emotions and ideas. Often, however, it is at those times when a person is experiencing sorrow or some other burden that he seeks the empathy of another. As we respond to a person in this particular need, we are truly imitating Christ Jesus: "Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.' " (Mt 11:28). 

7. Prudence 

a)  Prudence in General 

Prudence is that virtue which governs us in making the proper choices and decisions in the exercise of our Christ-life. It aims at using the proper means to express our love of God and man. Prudence governs the seeking of God's will in all the areas of one's Christian existence. Prudence is the guiding virtue of the entire Christian life. Its importance is obvious, and it rightfully holds first place among all the moral virtues. Although not as important as the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, its direction also extends to these virtues. Prudence tells us how to exercise faith, hope and love.

    Prudence is to influence every aspect of our participation in Christ's death-resurrection. It guides me as how best to avoid sin. Among other means, it bids me to learn from the past. What were the circumstances which led me to fail in love through this or that sin? Even when it has not been a question of sin, prudence still leads me to learn from those past mistakes which have hindered me from making a greater contribution to Church and world.

    Prudence is always our guide as we also strive to put on Christ more perfectly through positive action. What state of lifes does God wish me to enter?  What kind of work does He desire of me within that vocation? Here and now should I pray or engage in some external service for my neighbor? Among the various forms of expressing love, how am I to love God and others at this particular time? Am I working too much or too little? Am I too concerned for my health or not sufficiently concerned? Prudence helps answer these and all other questions concerning our Christ-life.

    Some people have a misconceived idea of what prudence is. They think it is merely an attitude of caution, an instinct which always leads us to take the safer path. True, prudence can lead me to choices of this nature if God’s will seems to indicate this type of action. But prudence is also concerned with the bold and the daring, with taking risks, with magnanimous action. Again, the guiding principle is God's will. The prudent Christian will also act in this latter manner if, after taking the proper means to discern the divine will, he decides God is leading him in this direction. 

b) Prudence and the New Morality

Christian prudence is always obviously necessary for proper growth in Christ, but it is especially essential for the present age of life within the Church. This is true because of the significant changes in the approach to Christian moral living which we are presently witnessing.

    What are some of the chief characteristics of the new morality?  First of all, it is more interior, very explicity rooted in the transformation which is achieved through incorporation into Christ. Long before the coming of Christ, Jeremiah spoke of this interiority of life within the new convenant: "See, the days are coming – it is Yahweh who speaks – when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not a covenant like the one I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. . . No, this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel when those days arrive – it is Yahweh who speaks. Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people. There will be no further need for neighbor to try to teach neighbor, or brother to say to brother, 'Learn to know Yahweh! ' No, they will all know me. . ." (Jr 31:31-34).

    As the words of Jeremiah indicate, the life of the new covenant established by and in Christ achieves a significant growth in the interiorization of religion. The life of the new covenant, consequently, is to be characterized by much less external law in comparison to life under the old covenant.

    Among the New Testament writers, St. Paul time and again develops the interiorization theme. Throughout the epistles to the Romans and Galatians, Paul stresses that we are justified through the interior law of the Spirit. External law cannot itself justify, that is, give the life of grace, although it has its role to play in the exercise and growth of the Christ-life. In Second Corinthians, St. Paul succinctly refers to the interiority of our life in Christ: "That is why there is no weakening on our part, and instead, though this outer man of ours may be falling into decay, the inner man is renewed day by day." (2 Co 4:16).

    The new approach to Christian morality, then, builds solidly upon what scripture tells us concerning our life in Christ. Christian morality is the expression of this life, and external actions have their intended value only when they are the incarnation of our Christ-life, the life of grace which transforms us. This Christ-life is essentially a life of love. Contemporary moral teaching greatly emphasizes the primacy of love, and continually reminds us that we must strive to be constantly aware that all our exterior conformity – indeed, all our moral actions – be seen in relationship to love of God and man. The new morality, then, strongly rejects legalism, that is, a belief that mere external conformity to law or a mode of life has a power to sanctify.

    However, contemporary moral theology obviously cannot and does not reject external law and structure. It merely desires that these be seen in proper perspective. In the past so much emphasis had been placed on law and structure and authority that the more primary values of the Christian life were too much neglected. Included among these primary values are the fact that we do possess the Holy Spirit and He has given us an inner principle of action, the Christ-life, which is intended to perfect the realities of personal dignity, freedom, initiative and responsibility. External law, structure and authority are important, but they should be seen in their true roles. They are meant to serve our life in the Spirit. They are not ends in themselves, but rather means.

    If external law is to have a secondary role in any age of Christianity, this fact is highlighted today in a world which demands an existential ethic more so than past ages.9 (We prefer the term existential ethics to situation ethics since there is a type of situation ethics which the Church condemns.) Moral theology has always been aware that at times it is extremely difficult to apply universal moral principles to concrete situations. This difficulty has increased in our modem age for various reasons. Life is much more complex than previously. The moral decisions a Christian must make are affected by this complexity. Also, the life of man is changing at an extremely rapid pace in all areas. These factors make it increasingly difficult for the official Church to keep expressing adequately her moral teaching as regards the multiple dimensions of the Christian's moral decision-making. The Christian increasingly must take the responsibility of using what universal moral teaching is available and, with the aid of proper advice as indicated, apply it to his existential situation as best as possible. The existential situation involves many factors – again, more so today than ever – and all these must be adequately considered as universal moral principles are applied. These universal principles at times can seem obviously inadequate because of the complexity of certain situations. With a sincere heart, as we stand before God, we can do no more than try to apply these principles as best we can.

    Some look upon this new approach to Christian moral living as always easier. They think that this approach keeps the shoe from ever becoming too tight, for if it does begin to pinch, the thing to do is to remove the shoe. In other words, these people think that the new morality allows them, in the name of freedom, love and self-fulfillment, to avoid any painful situation. This is a caricature of the new morality. The new morality is rooted in the gospel's spirit of freedom, love, personal responsibility and the fullness of life. It is also rooted in the cross of the gospel. There is no true Christian living which can escape the cross. In fact, the more I try to live the authentic morality of the gospel, the more at times I can be made aware of this.10

     From all that we have said concerning the new morality, it is obvious why the virtue of Christian prudence is more necessary than ever.11 As the realities of freedom, responsibility, initiative and existential ethics make themselves felt more in the Christian life, prudence becomes more and more indispensable. It is prudence which will guide the Christian to a correct and mature exercise of increased freedom, responsibility and initiative.

    If prudence is to perform its task, it must be well informed. If the Christian is to act prudently according to the new morality he must read scripture, especially the New Testament. Why? Because, we reiterate, the new approach to morality is rooted in scripture. It is centered in the person of Christ, in His teaching and His example. To act prudently means we also must look to the teaching Church. It means we must study current theology as time and other circumstances permit. Christian prudence also seeks the counsel of those who have a good knowledge of the Christian life. All this emphasizes what we have already said. If the new morality is more satisfying because it is more authentic, it is not an easy morality. Both to be prepared to live according to this new morality and actually to live according to it demands effort.

    NOTES:

                  1.  Cf. Cf. Romano Guardini, The Virtues (Chicago: Regnery, 1967) p. 4.
                           
        2.  Cf. G. Thils, Christian Holiness  (Tielt, Belgium: Lannoi, 1963), pp. 318-319.
                                    3.  Cf. A. Roldan, Personality Types and Holiness (New York: Alba House, 1967), pp. 136-137.
                                    4. John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, Paulist Press edition, Paragraphs 229-231.
                           
        5. Constitution on the Church, No. 20.
                                    6. Cf. J. Sekora, Calling: A Reappraisal of Religious Life (New York: Herder & Herder, 1968), pp. 70-71.

                                    7. Guardini, Op. cit., p. 89.
                                    8. Ibid., p. 9.
                                    9. Cf. Karl Rahner, The Christian of the Future (New York: Herder & Herder, 1967), pp. 39-48.
                                    10. Cf. Karl Rahner, Nature and Grace  (New York:  Sheed & Ward, 1964), pp. 55-56.
                                    11. Cf. Louis Monden, Sin, Liberty and Law (New York: Sheed &. Ward, 1965), pp. 104-105.

           


               

               

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