Living the Christian Moral LifeApril 4th, 2012
Recently, I finished teaching a catechist course on morality. If the evaluations are any indication, the students seemed to have learned a lot. But the truth is, so did I. Bob Dylan has a famous line- “he who is not busy being born is busy dying.” I think one thing I learned about teaching morality (or any subject) is that you first have to be a learner. You have to love learning and you have to love what you are learning in order to love teaching it. For me, learning is about being born. And teaching involves continually going deeper in what you learn.
I learned there is so much to our understanding of morality. The hot button issues of our day are always food for conversation and dialogue. These issues are the stuff of complex theological debates. Even the fact that we have debates is sometimes a hot button issue. But morality is so much more than that.
To live a moral life is no less than understanding who you are as you stand before God and who you are intended to be. It is that journey to wholeness. It is that journey of relinquishing our egos in order to heal our wounded-ness. And in the process, it is in knowing how much we are loved by God, how unique and special each one of us is as someone created by God. It is that journey of realizing that others are also special to God and that in our specialness, we are all equal but unique. In that sense, we are no more special than anyone else.
Additionally, to live a moral life is that journey of understanding ourselves and our unique gifts and doing the work to develop these gifts. It is knowing and using our gifts to serve others. To live a Christian moral life is no less than living our lifelong baptismal journey. And growth from living out the integration of our spiritual and religious lives, in other words the baptismal journey, comes from the call to holiness (wholeness). God calls everyone to grow and to develop their full potential.
In that journey to holiness and in the discernment of our gifts is where call and vocation meet. You might think the only understanding of making a vocational choice is to become a priest, brother, or sister. Not so! Vocation is first of all about call-who is doing the calling and who is responding. Moral theology wants to maintain the unique perspective of the human person and say that to live and follow our unique Christian callings is a moral responsibility of the highest order. God is to be involved in our lives, in the many choices of our daily lives, big ones and little ones. To say that individual choices are just choices and have nothing to do with being a Christian is to deny the call to discipleship, to conversion, to our essential callings in terms of professions, lifestyles, and spouses. And to do this is to deny living the Christian moral life. To live the Christian moral life is no less than following your vocation.
No wonder answering a call from God is scary business. It is an invitation to grow.