Many people today ask about moral education and specifically about education in Christian morality. Besides its anthropological foundations, it is interesting to consider directly its contents. What does Christian morality consist of? Does it add anything to ethics or “human morality”? What are its main and, if you want to say so, specific contents? Only by taking into account these contents can the educator of the faith consider at the same time the methods and the didactic resources for this education.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that Christian morality responds to man’s vocation: life in the spirit. It highlights both the joy and the demands that this path to life entails
Education for Christian morality is part of “catechesis” in its original sense as formation of Christian life at all ages and not only for children. Christian morality has characteristics that are deduced not only from ethics or rational morality, but also specifically from the proclamation of Christ and the Kingdom of God through the mission of the Church.
The characteristics of Christian moral education, as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
1. The education of faith for life in Christ That life is a participation in the very life of God, thanks to the Holy Spirit, who is “the Spirit of Christ. The work of Christ heals us and restores the image and likeness of God lost through sin.
From baptism, which makes us abandon the “old man” and be reborn in Christ, we have the seed of a full human life – what we call the life of grace – which has its own rules and norms. That is why the baptismal font sometimes takes the form of a mother’s womb: baptism makes us reborn with Christ in the bosom of the Church.
2. Christian moral education therefore emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit, consoler and guest of the soul, light and origin of his gifts that raise human nature to the order of grace. It is truly a new life in Christ through the Holy Spirit, a life that is a participation in the divine life, a “deiform life.
To this end the Holy Spirit bestows his gifts (wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, knowledge, piety and fear of God) that embrace our whole being, raising nature to the order of grace. These gifts produce the “fruits of the Spirit” (“charity, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.
3. As we are seeing, Christian moral education is education for the life of grace, and not only for ethical behavior at the rational level. The horizon of Christian life is that of configuration with Christ, that is, to be interiorly “made to the form” of Christ. In other words, the fullness of the moral life is holiness, in union with the will of God.
For this the Christian “loses his own life” for Jesus, seconding the redemptive work of the Trinity that is given to us in its entirety. All this happens from baptism, which inserts us in the dynamic of the Holy Spirit: a dynamic of love, which leads to an ardent desire for the good and not just any good, but the good in the perspective of the life of Christ. The life of grace develops from baptism, with the sacraments, prayer, and all the work of the Christian.
4. Christian moral education is also an education in the Beatitudes. The just (or the holy) is happy with the happiness that comes from adhering to God. The true disciple is the one who freely chooses this path of the Beatitudes, which are the “face of Christ. They are a guarantee of a “paradoxical” happiness, since they not only offer happiness to man, but they guarantee it for the poor in spirit, the meek and the afflicted, the hungry for justice and the merciful.
5. Christian moral education is an education about sin. Education about sin and forgiveness and forgiveness. Sin is perdition because it is, from the heart of man, an offense to God and to one’s neighbor, by injuring the order of love.
Therefore, sin-and we are all sinners-needs conversion: to accept God’s mercy in order to attain salvation, which comes with the forgiveness of sins and the definitive victory over the consequences of sin which are pain and eternal death.
No one saves himself, by his own knowledge or efforts, nor can man save himself together with other men without God. Welcoming God’s mercy makes us merciful to others.
6. Christian moral education is an education in the virtues and, with them, in discernment. An education in virtue goes beyond an education in values, but virtues, values, and standards must be present in all ethical education.
In the human or moral virtues, prudence stands out, a virtue that acts as a bridge between the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, strength and temperance) and the theological virtues (faith, hope and charity).
7. At the heart of education for the “new life” of the Christian is “the double commandment of charity”, developed in the Decalogue of the Commandments. This means that the Christian moral life is a participation in the very love of Jesus. This is charity, the fruit of the Holy Spirit who makes possible what seems humanly impossible.
8. Christian moral education is an education for the Eucharistic life and its fruit is an ecclesial life. In the Eucharist Jesus makes us his own and becomes our food for the journey of life until his second coming and for carrying out the very mission he has received from the Father.
Only with the Eucharist, the center of all the sacraments, are we able to carry out what has been said so far: to live in Christ through the Holy Spirit, to progress in the life of grace and in the way of the beatitudes and virtues, to reject sin and to always discern the good in our actions, living charity with God and others.
Since the Eucharist is received from the Church and bears fruit in our growth in the life of the Church, the moral life of the Christian does not develop in an individual way but in the “communion of saints” which is the Church.
The Christian vision of the person (Christian anthropology) makes it possible to understand and live the reality that each person carries in his or her own being a call to self-realization according to the image of Christ. This means a tension to act according to truth and goodness by “entering” freely into the life of Christ and participating in his own self-giving.
From his encounter with Christ and his progressive identification with him, every believer, moved by the constant action of the Holy Spirit, can, through his own life, proclaim to the world the good news of universal salvation, accomplished by the Lord.