Thursday, November 09, 2006

Catholic Moral Theology

Mystical/Liturgical Foundations for a Catholic Morality by James Keating

Introduction

Catholic moral theology has for the most part taken a natural law approach to understanding what moral living looks like. Since the Second Vatican Council, however, there has been exploration into a more explicitly theological approach to moral theory and application. This can be seen in works that more intentionally incorporate Christology or Scripture, for example. Moralists can also base their view of what is good for the human person upon the reality of sacramental incorporation. These approaches endeavor to simply highlight the supernatural side of moral formation, which has been less frequently examined. What needs to be especially highlighted is the way our humanity is sublated into what is really and concretely a new life in Christ. Through Baptism in water and the Holy Spirit, a person's life begins in Christ. This is the life that is "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3), meaning that it is a mystery.The sacramental human life is one that is immersed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Due to many human limitations, especially our sinful [End Page 65] tendencies, we create an artificial opposition between grace and nature. In the same way that the Church must keep the two natures of Christ united in his one person, so, too, must Catholic moral theology as "life in Christ" maintain the unity of faith and moral virtue by drawing more explicitly from the Church's celebration of the Christian mysteries. -- Excerpt Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 8.2 (2005) 65-88

James Keating, PhD, editor of the Josephinum Journal of Theology, is associate professor of moral theology in the school of theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, OH.

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