living a moral life is an imperative

In Making Choices: Practical Wisdom for Everyday Moral Decisions, author and philosopher Peter Kreeft begins by stating “… our civilization is dying because its fundamental foundation and building block, the family, is dying. Parents know today that it’s a moral jungle out there. They fear for their children’s safety, their survival, and their very souls. Body, soul, and spirit are all threatened; health, happiness, and holiness are very difficult to maintain.”

He then follows with “A survey of high school principals in 1958 asked this question: What are the main problems among your students?” The answer was:

  1. Not doing homework
  2. Not respecting property—e.g. throwing books
  3. Leaving lights on and doors and windows open
  4. Throwing spitballs in class
  5. Running through the halls

The same question was asked thirty years later in 1988. The answers then were:

  1. Abortion
  2. AIDS
  3. Rape
  4. Drugs
  5. Fear of violent death, murder, guns and knives in school.

Kreeft goes on to develop a powerful treatise on making moral decisions in an increasingly amoral and ever more immoral world in which we find ourselves living. Kreeft reminds us with a quote from St. Thomas More that “The times are never so bad that a good man cannot live in them” and then states that “the times are bad, but they are not so bad; not so bad that they make it impossible to be good. Bad times are no excuse for bad choices and bad lives.”

So much of what goes for entertainment today is, to put it mildly, vicious, disgusting, and ugly. And what remains is often banal, crude, amoral drivel. Rather than stimulate and strengthen our capability for rational thought, it has become an anesthetic, designed to numb the brain and kill the soul. No matter the medium, one would have to reach far and wide to find any promotion of beauty, charity, hope, love, or heaven forbid old-fashioned goodness.

English philosopher Roger Scruton has written extensively on aesthetics and beauty and what he sees is a “flight from beauty” in our culture. “It is not merely that artists, directors, musicians and others connected with the arts are in a flight from beauty … There is a desire to spoil beauty … For beauty makes a claim on us; it is a call to renounce our narcissism and look with reverence on the world …  Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as if it does not matter.”

But we shouldn’t give up hope or despair for he later writes “It is one mark of rational beings that they do not live only—or even at all—in the present. They have the freedom to despise the world that surrounds them and live another way. The art, literature, and music of our civilization remind them of this, and also point to the path that lies always before them: the path out of desecration towards the sacred and the sacrificial.”

Living a moral life filled with God is not impossible, it is imperative. St. Paul says it well. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” [Phil 4:8].

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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