An introduction to the Catholic understanding of Morality.Preview This Lesson
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St. Paul in Prison
by Rembrandt (1627)
What is the aim our existence?
This is the classic philosophical question. Centuries of brilliant thinkers pondered this question and came up with various answers. The Greek philosopher Aristotle’s answer comes as close to the Truth as a pagan can probably get. He said that the aim of our existence is to be happy. There is no higher achievement for man than happiness, and happiness is found through the practice of virtue, or good habits. Developing a virtuous, or moral, character takes a lifetime but it is possible to achieve because it is in our nature. Aristotle’s development of virtues and the attainment of happiness is the basis of his work, Nicomachean Ethics. This work influenced Catholic scholars, especially Saint Thomas Aquinas.
The early Church Fathers recognized God’s inspiration throughout Greek philosophy, and took it as confirmation of the words of Scripture: “then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). Christ opened heaven for every person, because every person was created for one purpose, or end: to be with God in the beatific vision. This makes every person who has, is, and will ever live joined in one purpose and given the same means to reach their end.
How can we be sure that all people have the same end and the same means to reach that end? Because, as it says in Genesis 1:26, we are made in His image and according to His likeness. This is called the imago Dei, and it is the first principle that binds all people together and to God. We are made to reflect God while on Earth and to be reunited with Him for eternity. This is what the Church identifies as the ultimate happiness that Aristotle spoke of. And as Aristotle discusses the importance of virtue in reaching happiness, we know that living a virtuous life is an important part of living as authentic Catholics.
Virtues are habits that move us closer to true happiness and our end. To help us know what acts are considered virtuous, each human act is evaluated. Is it good and move us closer to God? Or is it bad and move us away from God? Is the act always bad? Is it good but can turn bad in some way? Answering these questions is what we know as morality.
Morality is part of our human nature. God made us to be moral so that we could properly reflect Him through our body and soul working together. Morality is the compass that points us toward salvation or damnation. Think about that for a ... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
7th Grade: Morality: Lesson 1: Introduction to Morality is part of the following course(s):