‘Pope Gregory the Great’ Pier Francesco Sacchi (1485-1528)

Course Description

This course in Moral Theology is designed to bring the beginner to a deeper encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ and to more fully live a life of Christian discipleship. It is Jesus Christ who reveals the true nature of the human person in his act of self-giving love on the Cross. The Christian vocation to holiness is Christ’s call to all people to share in his own divine Sonship and divine life. In this course, students will study the meaning of this vocation to holiness, and how to live it out effectively.

In the Gospels we hear the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Keep the commandments” (Mt 19:16-17). This course is designed to explore the meaning and implications of this question and Jesus’ reply. We will see that far from being an oppressive shackle, living the commandments actually enable the full expression of a person’s freedom and dignity. We will also look at the true nature of happiness, the beatitudes as the most profound expression of the Christian life, as well as the movements of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

An integral aspect of this course will involve examining the distinction between nature and grace. This will initially consist of an exposé of the theology of grace and the supernatural life, gratuitously given at baptism. By this students will engage with what is arguably the most important question in twentieth century theology, namely the possibility of the human person’s natural desire for the vision of God.

Like our course on Moral Philosophy this course will also look at the nature of law, but with greater emphasis on the divinely revealed law. We will study the difference between the laws of the Old and New Testaments and will see that according to St. Paul it is the gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to keep the law.

So join us for this edifying course in Moral Theology.

Course Objectives

  1. To obtain a firm grasp of the nature of Moral Theology.
  2. To be able to distinguish between nature and grace.
  3. To learn about the natural and supernatural ultimate last end of the human person.
  4. To learn about the natural and supernatural virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the beatitudes.
  5. To gain an understanding of the nature of law: both revealed law and natural moral law.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Texts Recommended for Purchase by Course Participants:

Ashley, Benedict. Living the Truth in Love: A Biblical Introduction to Moral Theology. New York: Alba House, 1996.

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Homebush: St Pauls, 1994.

Popular Level Reading:

Guardini, Romano. Learning the Virtues that Lead you to God. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1987.

Mattison, William C. Introducing Moral Theology: True Happiness and the Virtues. Grand Rapids, MI: Bazos Press, 2008.

May, William E. An Introduction to Moral Theology. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2003.

Pieper, Josef. The Four Cardinal Virtues. Translated by Richard Winston. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966.

Servais Pinckaers. The Sources of Christian Ethics. London: Continuum / T&T Clark, 1995.

Pope Benedict XVI. The Virtues. Edited by Jacquelyn Lindsey. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2010.

Ratzinger, Joseph. On Conscience. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007.

Ratzinger, Joseph, Heinz Schürmann and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Principles of Christian Morality. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.

Wadell, Paul J. The Primacy of Love: An Introduction to the Ethics of Thomas Aquinas. New York: Paulist Press, 1992.

Thematic Works for this Course:

Catholic Church. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery. New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Annas, Julia. The Morality of Happiness. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Aquinas, Thomas. Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas Aquinas. Edited by Paul A Böer Sr. Translated by Rev. Joseph B. Collins. Veritatis Splendor Publications, 2012.

_________. ‘Light of Faith’: The Compendium of Theology. Sophia Institute, 1993. (Reprint of Herder edition 1958).

_________. Summa theologiæ, vol. 2-4. Westminster, Maryland: Christian Classics, 1981.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Beatitude: A Commentary on St. Thomas’ Theological Summa, Ia IIae, qq.1-54. Translated by Patrick Cummins. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1956.

Cessario, Romanus. Introduction to Moral Theology. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2001.

Guardini, Romano. Eternal Life: What You Need to Know about Death, Judgment, and Life Everlasting. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1989.

Hall, Paula. Narrative and Natural Law: An Interpretation of Thomistic Ethics. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994.

Harak, G. Simon. Virtuous Passions: The Foundations of Christian Character. New York: Paulist Press, 1993.

Hollenbach, David. The Common Good and Christian Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

O’Donovan, Oliver. The Just War Revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Pieper, Josef. The Concept of Sin. South Bend, IN: Augustine’s Press, 2001.

_________. Faith, Hope, Love. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997.

_________. The Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2003.

_________. Happiness and Contemplation. South Bend, IN: St Augustine’s Press, 1998.

Pinches, Charles R. Theology and Action.: After Theory in Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Pinckaers, Servais. Morality: The Catholic View. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2001.

_________. The Sources of Christian Ethics. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1995.

Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars. New York: Basic Books, 1992.

West, Christopher. Good News about Sex and Marriage. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2004.

Winner, Lauren. Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.

Wojtyla, Karol. Love and Responsibility. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993.

Woodbury, Austin. Basic Morals. Sydney: Aquinas Academy (unpublished text), 1962.