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Preface and User’s Guide

Like The Way of the Lord Jesus, volume one, Christian Moral Principles, this book is intended primarily but not solely for use as a seminary textbook. Also like that volume, it aims to treat its subject matter in accord with Catholic doctrine as it has been developed by the Second Vatican Council and recent papal teaching.

This volume treats the specific moral responsibilities common to all or most lay people and those common to clerics, religious, and lay people. A third volume is projected to deal with the special responsibilities of certain groups—physicians, lawyers, business people, and so forth—and a fourth, to treat the special responsibilities of clerics and religious.

Users of this volume might find it helpful to begin by reading the summaries at the beginning of each of the eleven chapters. While these do not briefly state all the main points, as the summaries at the end of volume one’s chapters do, the summaries here do provide a look ahead by listing the matters treated in each chapter, and so complement the table of contents and the indexes. (Directions for using the indexes will be found on page 914.)

Like volume one’s chapters, those of this volume are divided into questions, and, while most questions in this volume are longer than any in volume one, a complete question usually remains the smallest unit in which a reader can expect to find everything needed for an accurate understanding of any smaller unit. Generally, too, the introductory material at the beginning of questions and the numbered sections within them does not stand on its own, and so readers will do well to avoid drawing practical conclusions or launching criticisms on the basis of that introductory material (or the chapter summaries) considered in abstraction from the section, question, or chapter as a whole.

Personal Vocation and the Renewal of Moral Theology

Although this volume is meant to help Catholics shape their lives in accord with the faith they share, it is subtitled “Living a Christian Life” rather than “Living the Christian Life,” because Christian lives differ. Each saint is unique, and the uniqueness of the saints is not incidental to their sanctity. General moral norms are indispensable, but they are not sufficient to guide anyone’s life. The Father, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit call each Christian to play his or her own part in their work of creation, redemption, and sanctification. To make known that personal calling and to enable each man, woman, and child to respond to it, God supplies each person with a unique set of gifts and opportunities. In these, each Christian can and should discern God’s will; having discerned it, he or she should accept and fulfill it.

The whole of the unique life to which God calls each Christian is his or her personal vocation. Personal vocation was treated as a principle of Christian morality in volume one, especially in chapters twenty-three, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, and thirty-one. In this volume, specific responsibilities pertaining to personal vocation—to find, accept, and fulfill it—are treated in chapter two, question E. Moreover, throughout the present volume personal vocation serves as a principle, since a person’s vocation determines how he or she must fulfill many responsibilities, especially affirmative ones.

Inadequately understood, vocation often has been limited to a Christian’s calling by God to a certain state of life: priesthood or religious life, marriage, or a single life in the world. These alternative states of life are important elements of different personal vocations, but so are other sets of morally acceptable alternatives, such as the various kinds of work, association with others, hobbies, and so on. Indeed, each Christian’s personal vocation embraces the whole of his or her life, not merely part of it, for God calls each believer to love and serve him with the whole of his or her heart, mind, soul, and strength. Thus, Vatican II adopts the inclusive understanding of vocation partly because it is conducive to the integration of faith and daily life, whose bifurcation, the Council teaches, “deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age” (GS 43).

The alternative to living one’s whole life in response to one’s personal vocation is instead to have some interests, make some commitments, and carry out some projects apart from faith in Jesus and hope for his kingdom. Even if such independent interests, commitments, and projects are morally acceptable in themselves, they are likely to be influenced by the prevalent cultural environment, which in affluent countries is a form of post-Christian, secular humanism. Due to that influence, interests, commitments, and projects which have not been integrated with faith and hope generate tensions and eventual conflicts with these principles of Christian living. Thus, John Paul II, in greatly developing Vatican II’s teaching on personal vocation, treats it as an essential element in every Catholic’s spirituality—as something on a par with prayer and devout reception of the sacraments.

But if personal vocation, understood in this way, is essential, why has the Church begun to stress it only recently? The answer is twofold.

On the one hand, while the inclusive concept of personal vocation has emerged only recently, what is grasped by that concept is entirely traditional. For the core of the inclusive understanding of personal vocation is simply this: at every juncture, one should ask, “What is God’s will for me?” and, having discerned his will, one should accept it and strive to fulfill it faithfully. But, according to the New Testament, doing the Father’s will is the principle of Jesus’ life (see Jn 4.34, 5.30, 6.38; cf. Mt 26.39-42, Heb 10.7), and Jesus recognizes as kin those who follow the same principle (see Mt 12.50, Mk 3.35). Moreover, from the beginning, Christians have been exhorted to shape their entire lives by faith rather than by the prevalent cultural environment: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12.2; cf. 1 Pt 4.2).

On the other hand, contemporary culture challenges Christians in a unique way. As the faith spread during Christianity’s first millennium, it influenced culture, so that eventually most Christians’ roles in the family, the economy, and civil society more or less belonged to their lives of faith. Moreover, throughout most of Christianity’s first two millennia, few people had much choice about where they would live, what work they would do, or with whom they would associate. States of life involving virginity or celibacy for the kingdom’s sake were considered personal vocations for those having the special gifts they require. But for others it was hardly necessary to discern a personal vocation; it was sufficient that they accept as God’s will the responsibilities which were theirs willy-nilly. The contemporary world, however, presents Christians with a new situation. The secularization of culture in modern times gradually affected roles, first in the economy and civil society but more recently even in the family, opening the gap, which Vatican II deplores, between faith and daily life. Furthermore, many factors—such as scientific and technological progress, growing wealth, more complex social structures, and the liberal-democratic form of government—greatly increased the options available to people, especially those in the middle and upper classes in affluent societies. Such people no longer can live good Christian lives by passively accepting roles and responsibilities which are thrust upon them; they must reflect critically on culturally defined roles, examine their gifts and opportunities in the light of faith, discern what God asks of them, and commit themselves to doing it. Therefore, it has become necessary to stress personal vocation as the organizing principle of a good Christian life.

Vatican II calls for a renewed moral theology, which would deal more adequately with affirmative responsibilities by equally emphasizing two things: the nobility of the heavenly calling of Christians and “their obligation to bear fruit in charity for the life of the world” (OT 16). The preceding explanation clarifies one of the causes of the need for renewal perceived by the Council. Partly because the faithful had fewer options and many of their responsibilities pertained to culturally defined roles, classical moral theology—that is, the moral theology which developed after the Council of Trent and persisted until Vatican II—took most affirmative responsibilities for granted, and concentrated on clarifying the outer limits: mortal sin and its avoidance. Until fairly recently, such theology together with other means of spiritual formation—especially the instruction conveyed by the liturgy—provided most of the moral guidance which the faithful needed. But as secularization progressed and the faithful faced an increasing number of important choices, classical moral theology became less and less adequate, and its inadequacy became more and more obvious.

More guidance plainly is needed, especially with regard to affirmative responsibilities, whose articulation must take into account the diversity of personal vocations. Yet, while Vatican II calls for renewal in moral theology, the Council’s documents include no systematic treatment of moral questions. Moreover, although Scripture, tradition, and current Church teaching, taken together, certainly contain, at least implicitly, everything Catholics need to shape their lives, the wealth of material must be gathered up and synthesized. The present volume presents the results of an attempt at the necessary synthesis, including the articulation of numerous affirmative norms with many of the nuances required by the diversity of personal vocations.

Christian Morality: Beyond Legalism and Secular Humanism

Classical moral theology was deficient not only in its treatment of affirmative responsibilities but in another, more serious way: the moral theologians failed to see clearly that moral norms are truths about what really is good for people or harmful to them. So, moralists treated the norms of morality as laws imposed by God, much as human laws are imposed by human authorities—a system of rules restricting individuals’ freedom to live according to their personal preferences. Imbued with this view, both moral theology and pastoral practice sought to minimize what was regarded as the burden of morality, for example, by leaving those with erroneous consciences in good faith, so that they would not become disobedient to God’s law. This legalistic approach tended to overlook the damage which people do to human goods when they act badly, even though in good faith.

A clear and consistent avoidance of legalism is especially important for contemporary moral theology because Christianity is in competition with secular humanism, which both claims to promote human goods in this world and ridicules the gospel for its otherworldliness. Indeed, by promising peace on earth together with freedom from injustice and misery, the various forms of secular humanism retain a residue of the gospel. At the same time, by accommodating the inclinations of fallen humankind, secular humanism offers redemption without the cross. Thus, it poses a powerful challenge to Christian faith.

This challenge also is unprecedented. Many world views differ from monotheism inasmuch as they developed without the light of divine revelation and so lack clear understandings of God the creator and human persons made in his image. Nevertheless, almost every world view acknowledged something divine, some more-than-human source of meaning and value. Therefore, most people have taken it for granted that human beings are aware of many values which no human has made or can change, and that these values always must be respected by humans in acting, lest their actions fail to mesh with reality and become self-defeating. However, guided by divine revelation, Jews, Christians, and Moslems have excluded from their world views all superhuman sources of meaning and value apart from God the creator. Consequently, when post-Christian humanism denies God, it makes a claim which is radically new in comparison with all previous human understanding and belief: that conscious thoughts, feelings, and choices of human persons—and, perhaps, of the higher animals—are the sole source of all meaning and value whatsoever.

According to this view, the material universe, by a blind and aimless evolutionary process, tosses up life, sentient life, and finally homo sapiens. Only with the higher animals and human beings, the secular humanist supposes, do good and bad emerge, as conscious beings feel differently about various experiences, develop interests, act on them, and use things, including their own bodies and one another, to pursue their ends. While secular humanists grant that there are values outside consciousness—such as health, human mental capacity, natural beauty, natural resources, efficient technologies, and excellent works of art—they tend to treat, and if consistent do treat, all these values as derivative from and instrumental to states of consciousness, so that only these latter can have independent and intrinsic value. For each individual, states of consciousness which he or she would rather experience than be without are good, and those which he or she prefers being without are bad. Consequently, according to a consistent secular humanism, all reasoning about values, including all moral arguments about right and wrong (good and evil, virtue and vice), ultimately hangs on the preferences of some individual or some particular group of individuals. While some of these preferences arise from nature—most everyone prefers feeling well to the miseries of ill health—some are determined by individual choice and others by cultural conditioning. Thus, this understanding of values and moral argumentation leads to the subjectivism and relativism prevalent today, including the subjectivist view that autonomous conscience is the ultimate standard of right and wrong, and the relativist view that a Christian can implement faith and love adequately by conforming to the contemporary standards of most respectable people in his or her society.

Christian teachers should recognize the seriousness of the challenge of secular humanism and bear in mind that only an authentic Christian humanism can compete successfully with it. The same insight is important to the faithful in living their Christian lives. Without it, they will mistakenly regard faithfulness as dehumanizing; when sacrifice becomes necessary, this mistake will sap their energy and undermine their will to persevere.

Thus, it is important for the faithful to understand that Christian moral norms are a matter of objective truth, to be embraced as a gift and lived with joy, not a matter of mere rules, to be applied or evaded legalistically. Accordingly, in this volume specific moral norms are proposed as truths about what is humanly good, so that the requirements of Christian life will be recognized as necessary for human flourishing, whose possibility is real though limited in this world, and whose perfection belongs to the hoped-for heavenly kingdom.

Unlike students of a textbook of classical moral theology, then, readers of this book will not find in it (any more than in the Summa theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas) a spectrum of “probable opinions”—diverse rules legalistically conceived—among which faithful Catholics would be free to choose. For, inasmuch as morality is a matter of truth rather than of rules, a book of moral theology need not provide a survey of opinions marking the limits between the probably permissible and the certainly forbidden. Rather, it should provide clear and coherent guidance for living a Christian life, and readers should evaluate the guidance it provides by examining and reflecting on the theological sources it uses and studying the arguments it offers. Consequently, readers will find here grounds for accepting the norms proposed as true, and it will be up to each reader to think through the case for each norm.

If a norm and the case for it clarify what Christians should do and why, a reader will be able to understand it. But if not, the norm should not be treated as a more or less “probable theological opinion.” Indeed, in a work of this scope, some mistakes are inevitable. Nevertheless, since the grounds for various norms often are independent of one another, readers who think one or another, or even many, of the proposed norms mistaken may find most others helpful.

Reply to an Anticipated Criticism

Many norms articulated in this volume are only implicitly present in the witnesses of faith, and on certain matters the norms proposed here are quite demanding in comparison with lenient “probable opinions” with which readers may be familiar. Thus, some readers are likely to feel that the guidance offered in this work creates fresh burdens and is rigoristic. Of course, no moral theology which avoids legalism can be called “rigoristic” in the technical sense, since rigorism properly so-called is a form of legalism which holds that the strictest opinion is the only safe one to follow. However, some may call this work “rigoristic” in a loose sense, meaning that it is too idealistic, since it makes no “realistic” concessions to the practices of contemporary society.

A reply must begin by putting this anticipated criticism into perspective. The moral theology for which Vatican II calls, one “more nourished by the teaching of sacred Scripture” (OT 16), cannot help but seem very demanding today.

For, on the one hand, the New Testament makes it clear that living a Christian life requires self-sacrifice and involves suffering: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Lk 9.23-24; cf. Mt 10.38-39, Mk 8.34-35, Jn 12.25-26). Cooperating in Jesus’ work inevitably leads to suffering, since the world hates and persecutes faithful disciples (see Wis 2.1-20, Jn 15.18-21, Phil 1.27-30, 1 Pt 3.13-17, 1 Jn 3.16, Rv 13.10).

But, on the other hand, in all the affluent nations, contemporary community moral standards on many matters, most obviously but not only those touching on sex and innocent life, are quite permissive. While dissenting moral theologians have not unqualifiedly endorsed those permissive standards, their dissent has made permissiveness appear to be a legitimate option, and has clouded the consciences of a great many Catholics.

Consequently, at the present time any clear and full articulation of the authentic requirements of Christian life is bound to seem hard and unrealistic. That impression will be greater to the extent that those requirements are regarded, wrongly, as a burden imposed, rather than as necessary implications of sharing with the Lord Jesus in service to his kingdom—a communion of persons in which all the good fruits of human nature and effort will be found in their perfection (see GS 38-39). Willingly taken upon oneself, Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden light (see Mt 11.29-30), because for the wholehearted disciple the hard work of Christian life is, not the alienated labor of a slave, but the cooperation of a friend, who understands its point and hopes to share its fruit (see Jn 15.13-15).

Furthermore, insofar as Christians who try to fulfill their personal vocations are cooperating with Jesus, they are not left to their own resources. To take Jesus’ yoke upon oneself is not to relieve him of it but to share it with him. Sharing it, his disciples also share his resources: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever” (Jn 14.16). Again: “I appointed you to bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name” (Jn 15.16). It stands to reason that, since one’s personal vocation is a God-given share in carrying out his plan, he will provide everything needed to fulfill it. Thus, for any who strive to do God’s will, his grace is sufficient, and it is entirely realistic to follow Jesus in life and through death to the glory of his kingdom (see Heb 12.1-2).

Some Other Characteristics of This Work

One form grace takes is the divine gifts of faith, hope, and charity, infused into every Christian at baptism. As the exercise of these gifts is the heart of any authentic Christian life, the articulation of their normative implications must be the focus of a truly Christian, nonlegalistic ethics. Likewise, the truths embodied in the moral virtues must be articulated clearly, and their relationships to faith, hope, and charity explained, in order to provide helpful guidance for Christians who desire to live according to the calling and gifts they have received. Hence, this volume deals practically and synthetically with faith, hope, charity, justice, mercy, and the other virtues; they are used here, as they were by St. Thomas in the second part of the second part of his Summa theologiae, to illuminate and unify the many specific norms of Christian morality.

Another form grace takes is the continuing presence of Jesus to his disciples in their mutual help and support. The Church, including the blessed in heaven, sustains her members, and so they fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens (see Gal 6.2). Any commitment to fulfill an element of one’s personal vocation is a commitment to serve others in some specific way. Hence, this volume does not propose an individualistic ethic but an ecclesial and, more generally, a social ethic. So, in order to be fully practical, it incorporates canon law’s relevant specifications of the responsibilities treated. Also, during the past century, the papal magisterium and Vatican II have articulated a substantial body of social doctrine, which theologians usually have treated apart from the rest of moral theology. This social doctrine is integrated into the moral theology of this volume, especially in chapters six through eleven. But not only there, for some important elements of it appear already in earlier chapters, especially in chapter two’s treatment of the mission of the Church, apostolate, and personal vocation.

If some of those imbued with legalism will consider the guidance proposed in this volume rigorous, others who share that mentality will consider it lax. Those who confuse Christian morality with a law code to be imposed on the Church’s halfhearted rank and file are likely to fear that the norms articulated here, which often are too complex and too qualified to serve as disciplinary rules, will be used to support rationalization. Of course, that may happen, but such a use of the book will be an abuse, to which any authentic moral theology is susceptible. Only those who sincerely desire to live a good Christian life can make proper use of a work which tries to clarify what that involves. As for those who lack that desire, they need conversion, not a list of simpler and stricter rules.

In this volume are treated all the specific moral norms which, even though constantly and most firmly taught by the Church, are now being questioned. What about the dissenting theological views? Their foundations were criticized in Christian Moral Principles, especially in chapters one, three, six, sixteen, twenty-three, and thirty-six. Someone who understands and accepts that criticism can apply it easily to dissenting opinions and arguments regarding the various norms; if someone does not understand it or rejects it, such an application would be unhelpful or unconvincing. Therefore, this volume generally makes no explicit mention of views which differ from clear and firm Church teaching. Nevertheless, they are taken into account insofar as greater effort and space are invested in explaining the norms from which dissent is most widespread.

As a theological textbook, this work attempts to be pastoral, not by treating every topic from the narrow point of view of the pastor’s own duties, but by providing pastors with a body of knowledge which they should communicate in their preaching and teaching, as well as in counseling both in and outside the confessional. No theological textbook, however, can replace catechetical and homiletic materials, which must be carefully prepared and adapted to each particular class or congregation. So, this work is intended to serve as a pastoral resource, a reference book and aid to personal reflection.

Key to References within the Text

As has been explained, theological works should be grounded in sources beyond theology itself. So, nobody should believe theologians, including the author of this book. Instead, an individual should regard them as aids for his or her personal appropriation of the Church’s teaching. Hence, those using this book will need to study its sources. Its chief sources are Scripture, the teachings of the Catholic Church, and the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

This volume is very large. If the sources cited to support the positions taken were not drastically limited, it would be far larger, but not, probably, much more useful. So, there is no attempt in each case to provide references to every source at hand, but only to those which seem directly relevant, and among those usually only to the most important sources.

Quotations from Scripture (except those within other quotations) are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. References are made by means of the following abbreviations:

Acts   Acts of the Apostles
1 Chr   1 Chronicles
2 Chr   2 Chronicles
Col   Colossians
1 Cor   1 Corinthians
2 Cor   2 Corinthians
Dn   Daniel
Dt   Deuteronomy
Eph   Ephesians
Ex   Exodus
Ezk   Ezekiel
Gal   Galatians
Gn   Genesis
Heb   Hebrews
Hos   Hosea
Is   Isaiah
Jas   James
Jb   Job
Jer   Jeremiah
Jn   John (Gospel)
1 Jn   1 John (Epistle)
Jos   Joshua
Lk   Luke
Lv   Leviticus
Mal   Malachi
1 Mc   1 Maccabees
2 Mc   2 Maccabees
Mk   Mark
Mt   Matthew
Phil   Philippians
Phlm   Philemon
Prv   Proverbs
Ps   Psalms
1 Pt   1 Peter
2 Pt   2 Peter
Rom   Romans
Rv   Revelation
Sg   Song of Songs
Sir   Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
1 Sm   1 Samuel
Tb   Tobit
1 Thes   1 Thessalonians
2 Thes   2 Thessalonians
Ti   Titus
1 Tm   1 Timothy
2 Tm   2 Timothy
Zec    Zecariah

DS refers to Henricus Denzinger and Adolfus Schönmetzer, S.J., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum, ed. 34 (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1967). This volume, as its title indicates, is a collection of “creeds, definitions, and declarations on matters of faith and morals.” Texts are in chronological order. Two sequences of numbers appear in the margins; both are indicated in references in the present text. Quotations from this collection, unless otherwise noted, are from: The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, translated by J. F. Clarkson, S.J., J. H. Edwards, S.J., W. J. Kelly, S.J., and J. J. Welch, S.J. (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1973). In the translation texts are arranged topically rather than chronologically; a table (370-75) correlates with the earlier editions of DS.

For quotations from the Vatican II documents, the point of departure was a set of translations provided during the Council by the National Catholic Welfare Conference—the agency of the bishops of the United States, subsequently reorganized into the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference. Those translations were prepared quickly and were originally distributed as the Council completed its work on each document; later they were published in various forms, among which is a convenient, one-volume edition: The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II and the Instruction on the Liturgy with Commentaries by the Council Fathers, compiled by J. L. Gonzalez, S.S.P., and the Daughters of St. Paul (Boston, Mass.: Daughters of St. Paul, 1967). In each instance, the National Catholic Welfare Conference translation has been checked against the official text of the document, and amended or replaced whenever necessary to express more accurately the meaning of the Latin, and also to bring the English into accord with current usage—for example, with regard to inclusive language—and the editorial style generally followed throughout this volume. References to the Vatican II documents use the abbreviations derived from the initial letters of the Latin text of each document, and then the numbers of the articles into which the documents were divided by the Council itself.

AA Apostolicam actuositatem (Laity)
AG Ad gentes (Missions)
DH Dignitatis humanae (Religious Liberty)
DV Dei verbum (Divine Revelation)
GE Gravissimum educationis (Education)
GS Gaudium et spes (Church in the World)
IM Inter mirifica (Communications)
LG Lumen gentium (On the Church)
NA Nostra aetate (Non-Christian Religions)
OE Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Eastern Churches)
OT Optatam totius (Priestly Formation)
PC Perfectae caritatis (Religious Life)
PO Presbyterorum ordinis (Priestly Life)
SC Sacrosanctum Concilium (Liturgy)
UR Unitatis redintegratio (Ecumenism)

Users of the Abbott-Gallagher edition should keep in mind that only the footnotes italicized in that edition are part of the Council documents. So, in that edition the Council’s own notes usually have numbers different from those in the official texts.

S.t. refers to the Summa theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. This work is cited by its five main divisions: 1 (the first part or prima pars), 1-2 (the first part of the second part or prima secundae), 2-2 (the second part of the second part or secunda secundae), 3 (the third part or tertia pars), and sup. (the supplement compiled from an earlier work after Thomas’s death). These main divisions are subdivided into questions (cited by q. with the question number), the questions into articles (cited by a. with the article number), and the articles into a body (c. for corpus) and replies to objections (cited ad 1, ad 2, and so forth). S.c.g. refers to St. Thomas’s Summa contra gentiles, which is divided into four books and these into chapters. This work is cited by book and chapter, separated by a period.

Abbreviations in the Footnotes

AAS refers to Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the journal of the Holy See in which are published the official texts of documents issued by the popes and the Holy See’s congregations. AAS began publication in 1909; its predecessor, from 1865-1908, was Acta Sanctae Sedis (ASS).

CIC refers to Codex iuris canonici, auctoritate Ioannis Pauli Pp. II promulgatus (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983), which contains the law currently in force in the Latin Church. Quotations from the code, unless otherwise noted, are from The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, ed. James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, and Donald E. Heintschel (New York: Paulist Press, 1985).

EV refers to Enchiridion Vaticanum: Documenti ufficiali della Santa Sede: Testo ufficiale e versione italiana, 9 vols. (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 1965-85). References are to volume and page numbers, not to section numbers.

Inseg. refers to Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, 16 vols. (Vatican City: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1963-78), or Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, 12 vols., most divided into 2 or 3 parts (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1978-89). These volumes include original-language versions of virtually all of the two popes’ communications.

In Sent. refers to St. Thomas Aquinas, Scriptum super libros Sententiarum magistri Petri Lombardi. This work is divided into four books (1, 2, 3, or 4), each of which is divided into distinctions (d.), the distinctions into questions (q.), the questions into articles (a.), and the articles (sometimes, but not always) into little questions (qu’la). The ultimate unit is divided into a body (c.) and replies to objections (ad 1, ad 2, and so on). In some cases the text in S.t., sup. is the same as that in In Sent., and the reference to the former is provided in parentheses immediately after that to the latter.

OR refers to the English-language, weekly edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. The reference includes the date of the issue cited and the relevant page number or numbers. When the Italian edition is cited, that is indicated in each instance, and the abbreviation OR is not used.

Pastoral Letters, ed. Nolan, refers to Pastoral Letters of the United States Catholic Bishops, ed. Hugh J. Nolan, 5 vols. (Washington, D.C.: National Conference of Catholic Bishops—United States Catholic Conference, 1983-89).

PE refers to The Papal Encyclicals, ed. Claudia Carlen, I.H.M., 5 vols. (1981; reprint, Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pierian Press, 1990). Quotations from papal encyclicals published before 1982, unless otherwise noted, are from this edition. In it, the encyclicals are numbered consecutively through the five volumes, and each is divided into numbered sections; in references, the number of the encyclical referred to appears first, followed by a period, and then the number or numbers of the relevant section or sections.

PL refers to Patrologiae cursus completus: Series latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 221 volumes (Paris: 1844-55). References include the number of the volume and column or columns.

PG refers to Patrologiae cursus completus: Series graeca, ed. J. P. Migne, 161 volumes (Paris: 1857-66). References include the number of the volume and column or columns.

The Rites refers to The Rites of the Catholic Church as Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Council and Published by Authority of Pope Paul VI (New York: Pueblo, 1976). References are to the page numbers in this collected edition.

Vatican Collection, ed. Flannery, 1: refers to Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., new rev. ed. (Northport, N.Y.: Costello, 1992). Vatican Collection, ed. Flannery, 2: refers to Vatican Council II: More Post-conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P. (Northport, N.Y.: Costello, 1982). In each case, the relevant page number or numbers are indicated immediately after the colon.

Some Further Points to Note

Many popes and Vatican II have commended St. Thomas as a model for work in theology. The reflection carried on in The Way of the Lord Jesus began from his work. Both volumes are even more indebted to him than the numerous citations of his works suggest. Still, the writings of St. Thomas are not theological sources on a par with the teaching of the Church herself. On some important matters, the unfolding teaching of the Church seems to require positions incompatible with those of St. Thomas. In such cases, one must be a better friend of Thomas by disagreeing with him.

Another important theological source is the consensus of the approved authors. Approved authors means the authors of the standard manuals in moral theology which were in use in Catholic seminaries throughout the world prior to Vatican II. Despite the inadequacies of classical moral theology, the consensus of the approved authors on substantive issues has great weight inasmuch as popes and bishops authorized the use of their works for the training of priests. So, where the approved authors agree in proposing as certain a judgment on a moral norm or on the gravity of an act, the magisterium is firmly committed to that position. Therefore, this work regularly relies on the consensus of the approved authors. However, to avoid multiplying references, they usually are not cited as the authority for positions which are still commonly held by those Catholic moral theologians who do not dissent from the Church’s constant and most firm teaching.

Since this volume presupposes Christian Moral Principles, familiarity with that volume is taken for granted throughout. Matters adequately treated in volume one are merely referred to here rather than treated again. In this volume, all references to volume one are indicated by CMP, always followed by a chapter number, often by a letter or number indicating the relevant question or appendix, and sometimes by a number indicating the relevant paragraph within a question.

By contrast, cross references within the present volume indicate no source and include the number of the chapter and letter of the question only if other than those in which the reference occurs.

Inevitably, in a work as large in scope as The Way of the Lord Jesus, some matters were treated in volume one which would better have been left for treatment here, particularly the treatment of the moral authority of law and some of the detail in the chapters on prayer and the sacraments. Also, some matters were not treated in volume one which should have been treated there, and so are treated here. This is particularly so of the treatment of hope and the Church’s mission in chapter three of this volume, the first question of chapter four, and most of chapter six.


The acknowledgments section of the “User’s Guide and Preface” of Christian Moral Principles explains the origin and sponsorship of the moral theology project which has resulted both in that volume and in this one. Dr. Robert J. Wickenheiser, President of Mount Saint Mary’s College, has continued to encourage the work in every possible way.

This project also continues to depend on the substantial help of many persons. The greatest debt is to the three whose names appear on the title page. Joseph Boyle devoted about one hundred and twenty long days, spread over several years, to help with outlining most of the chapters, revising all of them, and drafting a few scattered sections. Jeannette Grisez, my wife, served as administrative assistant and secretary, helping with the work on a daily basis. Russell Shaw both commented in detail on all the chapters and made countless helpful suggestions for their revision; he also drafted the summaries.

Basil Cole, O.P., made suggestions in advance for the integration of canon law into the treatment and also commented on all the chapters. Patrick Lee researched recent theological literature in advance and also commented on all the chapters. John Finnis checked the references to and quotations from Denzinger-Schönmetzer and the documents of Vatican II, and made many helpful suggestions. Similarly, Robert G. Kennedy worked on the references to and quotations from Scripture, and Edward N. Peters on canon law. Joseph Casey, S.J., Kevin Flannery, S.J., and Peter Ryan, S.J., commented on all the chapters, providing many helpful criticisms and suggestions for improvement.

The following helped in lesser but significant ways with at least one, and in some cases with all, of the chapters: Michael Carragher, O.P., Stephen B. Clark, Christopher Derrick, Paul Flaman, John Geinzer, Robert P. George, James Hanink, Brian Harrison, Mark Latkovic, Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap., William Marshner, William E. May, James T. O’Connor, Kevin Perrotta, Dermot Quinn, Patrick Riley, Ray Ryland, William A. Ryan, Alan Schreck, Keith A. Snider, and Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M.Cap.

Various drafts of most of the chapters were used as texts in classes at Mount Saint Mary’s College and Seminary, and the seminarians and collegians participating in those courses helped to improve the work, as did the students who used chapter nine and related materials in the fall of 1991 in a course at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio.

Many thanks to all these persons for their help. Without it, this volume would be far more defective and less adequate than it is.

Mount Saint Mary’s College
Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727-7799
22 November 1992, Solemnity of Christ the King

Jesus “for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding it shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12.2).