Introduction to Morality

As Christ’s disciples we are called to imitate Him striving for perfect obedience to God’s Law and living a life without sin. Living morally is a necessity, it is the path to true holiness and to eternal union with God.

Love is willing the good of the other for the sake of the other.

Christian Morality is being the person God created you to be – a person who chooses to be good. You grow into a moral person by choosing good acts, carefully examining your motives to be sure your intentions are good, and avoiding circumstances that lessen your ability to choose freely.


We are made in the image of God, meaning that you and every person on earth are first and foremost good. When you choose wisely you are acting in accordance with your true nature, ultimately making you happy. Our ultimate destiny is to be eternally happy with God in Heaven.


Jesus gives us a glimpse of this destiny in the Beatitudes (perfect happiness or blessedness)



Think about how many decisions do you make in a day.
  • getting out of bed…
  • most of our decisions are habits that come easily and don’t require much thought.
  • every decision we make has a right or wrong value, even if we rarely think of it that way.


Even small daily choices have the cumulative effect of moving us in one direction or the other, toward God or away. Many small choices also have a way of forming our hearts.

Deeds become habits; habits become character; character becomes destiny.

These choices form our hearts, establish our character, and move us into one future or another.
We live in times in which people like to demand free choice, but also like to evade the responsibilities that come with making choices.

The danger is that it is common that our hearts become more fixed over time and our fundamental character becomes less and less likely to change.

As we get older, it’s harder to change because that’s what choices do to us: they move us in a certain direction, down a certain path; and the further along that path we go, the less likely we are to turn back.


It is essential to examine our conscience regularly and make frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession. Each day we ought to ask the question, “Where am I going with my life?”

If we go on for too long living an unreflective life, it is easy to find ourselves deeply locked in sinful habits that become harder and harder to break. Frequent reflection is necessary and we ought not to make light of small daily decisions.

Examining Decisions:

Morality: “the goodness or evil of human acts”


(Three elements involved)
  1. The object, that is, the specific thing the person is choosing to do.
  2. The intention of the person doing the action.
  3. The circumstances surrounding the act.

In determining whether a human act is morally good or morally bad, we must consider all three elements together. For an act to be morally good, both the object and the person’s intention must be good.

Circumstances play a secondary role, possibly affecting the person’s moral freedom or determining how good or bad the act actually is.

Good intentions or special circumstances can never make some objects morally good. You cannot do evil so that good can come from it.


SIN | Mortal and Venial Sins

Morality and making good decisions at the heart of it involves real relationships. When we choose to do wrong instead of good, we commit sin – and we hurt our relationship with ourselves, others, and God.

Sin is any word we speak, action we perform, or desire we have that is contrary to the Law that God has inscribed in our hearts at the very moment we are conceived.

When we sin we reject God’s will for us to be good and are guilty of disobedience, and are not following the example of Jesus who was obedient to God in all things.

It may seem that most sins hurts only the sinner, but even the most private acts have a social dimension.

There are different kinds of sin.
“All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.”

1 John 5:17

“That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparation nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Luke 12:47-48


A mortal sin is a serious offense against God, one that destroys the virtue of charity within us, which helps us love God and our neighbor. Mortal sin involves serious immoral acts, or what the Church calls “grave matter.” (10 Commandments)

mortal means death and these sins have the power to cause eternal death –eternal separation from God

  • Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent on the part of the person committing the seriously wrong act.
  • You must know how wrong an action is, and then deliberately and freely choose to do it.


Venial sins are less serious than mortal sins because they do not destroy our relationship with God, but they do damage it. They involve a lesser degree of evil, or they may be seriously wrong acts committed without full knowledge of just how wrong they are.

Venial Sins are closely associated with vices (vices are the opposite of virtues, which are habits of good actions). Repeating venial sins brings one in danger of forming bad habits, vices.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that we are responsible only for the sins we directly commit (sins of commission) – there are also sins of omission.

A sin of omission occurs when we fail to do something that is required by God’s moral law.

(example, perhaps you were called to tell the truth and instead you withheld it)



Other Notes from Msgr. Pope:

We live in times in which it is often easy to insulate ourselves from the immediate consequences of the choices we make. Medicine, technology, and social safety nets are all good things in and of themselves, but they do tend to shield us from immediate consequences, and help to cultivate the illusion that consequences can be forever evaded. They cannot.

We also live in times in which, perhaps more than ever before, the community is willing to bear the burden of poor individual choices. Again, this is not in and of itself a bad thing, but it does become an enabler of bad behavior, and fosters the illusion that consequences can be avoided forever. They cannot.

Our own culture is currently struggling under the weight of a colossal number of poor individual choices, ones that have added up to a financial, spiritual, moral, and emotional debt that we cannot pay. Sexual misconduct, divorce, cohabitation, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, the use of hallucinogenic and addictive drugs, the casting off of discipline and parental responsibility, the rejection of faith and ancient and tested wisdom, rebellion, silence in the face of sin and injustice, greed, consumerism, factions, envy, discord, and on and on … all of this is taking a tremendous toll. The consequences are mounting and it is becoming clear that even the most basic functions of society such as raising the next generation, preserving order and stability, and ensuring the common good are gravely threatened.

And what is true collectively is also true for us as individuals. Many poor choices in small matters quickly draw us into self-destructive patterns that get more and more deeply entrenched. Without regular reflection and the reminder of penitential seasons like Lent, it is easy to lose our way.