Grisez never took a course on sacred Scripture, and all of his graduate work was in philosophy. However, he began studying the New Testament with gradually increasing understanding after 1 Pt 5:6–11 caught his attention as he listened to it being read at Sunday Mass on 7 June 1964. He was then completing work on his book on contraception. Writing that book also led to his helping America’s leading Catholic moral theologian of that time, John C. Ford, S.J., with his work on Pope Paul VI’s Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate (on Father Ford and that cooperation click here).
Grisez was drawn further into theology when he worked for Cardinal Patrick A. O’Boyle during 1968–70, helping the Washington Archbishop deal with dissent from Pope Paul VI’s reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching that contraception vitiates marital intercourse.
Dissent by many theologians—which persisted and developed into the rejection of every exceptionless moral norm pertaining to Church teaching—along with the poor rationalizations offered for that dissent led Grisez to discern weaknesses in the formation moral theologians had received from earlier generations of theologians. During the summer of 1971, he began planning a book on Catholic faith and sexual morality. However, as he did so, he found that most of the problems that called for fresh treatment were in fundamental moral theology or ecclesiology rather than in the specific field that had occasioned dissent.
The proposal that there be a new Catechism of the Catholic Church was made and that volume published only under John Paul II in the late 1980s. However, on 11 April 1971, the Congregation for the Clergy issued a new General Catechetical Directory, which Vatican Council II had called for. The Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal John Wright, wanted a catechism published unofficially that would be exemplary in implementing the directory’s guidance.
To serve as editors of that catechism, Cardinal Wright enlisted Rev. Donald W. Wuerl (Wright’s long-time priest-assistant, who was helping him in Rome and working on a doctorate in theology), Rev. Ronald Lawler (a scholarly Capuchin whose theological and catechetical work Wright knew and admired), and Father Ronald’s brother, Thomas Comerford Lawler (a layman, employee of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, patrologist, and experienced editor). From the outset, the three invited others to help, and Father Ronald invited Grisez’s suggestions, one of which resulted in opening the book with a chapter entitled “The Hope of Our Calling.”
Once the editors had settled upon the book’s general outline, they asked John Finnis and Grisez each to draft two of the four chapters (18–21) on Christian ethics. Rather than divide the assignment, Finnis and Grisez agreed to work together on all four. After some preliminary correspondence, they for the first time met and worked together—in Rome during the last week of April 1974. After that, Finnis did most of the drafting. But when the editors circulated drafts of the whole book for comments, Grisez criticized others’ contributions, and in doing so worked more diligently than he had previously on the book’s sources—especially the New Testament and the documents of the Councils of Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II.
The book, The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, was first published in January 1976, with the three editors as co-authors along with fourteen others, including Finnis and Grisez. This catechism was very successful. Eventually there were thirteen translations, four additional complete editions, and several derivative publications. Though small by comparison with the editors’ work, Grisez’s contribution to that volume made it his first theological publication.
While working on The Teaching of Christ’s chapter on the Church, Grisez first realized that each and every constant and firm Catholic teaching that a specific kind of act is the matter of grave sin had been proposed infallibly by the ordinary magisterium. He then persuaded Father John Ford, who had entirely retired from scholarship and was engaged in the pastoral work he greatly enjoyed, to collaborate on an article that they published in Theological Studies in 1978: “Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium” (available here).
As work on the catechism neared completion, some of those contributing to that project were also involved in developing a proposal, accepted by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States in November 1975, to prepare a document on moral values. Bishop John B. McDowell, an auxiliary of Pittsburgh who was chairman of the drafting committee, and Russell Shaw, who worked for the bishops on communication and public relations, involved Grisez in planning how to carry out the project and welcomed his comments on drafts of the document.
The fruit of the project, “To Live in Christ Jesus: A Pastoral Reflection on the Moral Life,” was vigorously opposed not only by dissenting theologians but by a small yet tenacious group of bishops. However, in November 1976 the bishops spent three hours in plenary session working through the committee’s final draft sentence by sentence, making only amendments that had majority support, and approved the document by a vote of 172 to 25. For their forthright moral teaching in this pastoral, the bishops of the U.S. were strongly commended by Pope John Paul II when he addressed them in Chicago on 5 October 1979.
Meanwhile, Grisez became convinced that, for the training of seminarians and the ongoing formation of her clergy, the Catholic Church needed something more than a defense against theological dissent and a more adequate explanation of contested moral teachings. She needed a new fundamental moral theology—one that would incorporate and use a sound ethical theory in a comprehensive, Christ-centered account of the naturally known and revealed truths that ground the norms that ought to shape Christians’ lives. On 12 February 1976, Grisez wrote a letter to Father Ronald Lawler articulating that idea for the first time.
In the letter Grisez also proposed that, to realize the idea, Father Ronald organize and manage a project by a group of scholars, somewhat as the catechism project had been carried out. He soon replied, agreeing about the need and the the sort of publication that would meet it. But he hesitated to undertake the project. Both men were going to New York for the annual meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association and agreed to discuss the idea over breakfast on Friday, 23 April 1976. In the event, they spent that whole, lovely, spring morning talking while walking in Central Park. Their discussion clarified the idea of the project and the need for it but seemed only to increase Father Ronald’s reluctance to undertake it. Nor did subsequent correspondence persuade him to do so.
During the next eleven months, Grisez talked with other scholars about the idea. As he did so, it expanded from one book on fundamental moral theology to a four-volume summa of Catholic moral theology. No other scholar was willing to try to manage the project, but several were ready to help if someone else took the lead. Finally, in April 1977, Grisez realized that the project could not be managed by a committee and concluded that he should undertake it himself—with as much help from others as he could get—but only if several conditions were met.
He was then teaching philosophy at Campion College in Regina, Canada, where theological research and teaching would be impossible for him. The Grisezs would need to move back to the States, and he would need a full-time position in a major seminary where good libraries would be available and he could teach the theology he was working on. He also would need (1) a light teaching load, subordinate to his research and writing; (2) freedom from departmental chores, committee work, and mentoring; (3) an expense fund adequate to cover the costs of necessary travel and research materials, and to provide modest stipends for those who would help with the work; and (4) office space not only for himself but for his wife, Jeannette, who would serve as his secretary.
Since no seminary was likely to provide all that without substantial outside funding, Grisez decided he would undertake the project only if such funding became available. His thought was, If the Lord wants me to carry out this work, he will provide everything necessary. Still, Grisez did not expect the funding to come unless he sought it. So, he began writing letters to friends sketching out what he had in mind. With Jeannette’s efficient help, he prepared a direct-mail appeal to one hundred foundations that supported Catholic causes and to every bishop in charge of a diocese in the United States. On 18 May 1977, the packets, each of which included a ten-page grant application and a covering letter, were mailed.
Open the packet with the covering letter sent to bishops (PDF)
Most bishops never responded and even fewer foundations did. Most of those that did respond declined to support the project. Still, some bishops responded favorably and a few were ready to provide substantial support. Among friends to whom Grisez wrote in advance was Bishop McDowell, who replied very enthusiastically on 16 May. In July he undertook to obtain additional episcopal support for the project. Due to his efforts, several bishops who had not responded and even some who had declined to support the project agreed to do so.
In August McDowell set up a tax-exempt trust for theological studies to receive and hold the contributions, and by the end of that month he was encouraging Grisez to look for the place to do the work. Eventually, support was provided by Cardinals O'Boyle and Wright, forty bishops in charge of dioceses (including six other cardinals), three auxiliary bishops, four wealthy laymen, three small foundations, and two Catholic lay organizations.
In September 1977, Grisez worked on a longer outline of the first volume, which he was then calling Principles of Catholic Moral Theology. After obtaining comments on a first draft from a few friends, he revised the outline in October. Almost twenty-one thousand words on thirty-nine legal-sized pages, it had a general introduction followed by six parts:
Part 1: Our Calling: To Life in the Kingdom of God
Part 2: The Way for Us: The Human Life of Jesus
Part 3: Our Task: To Make Human Goods Abound
Part 4: The Truth for Us: The Word and Words of Christ Jesus
Part 5: Fallen Men and Women in a Broken World
Part 6: Our Life: Human and Divine Life in Jesus and His Spirit
Open the October 1977 Outline of
Principles of Catholic Moral Theology
That outline was sent to the rectors of some seminaries and to some potential donors. Seeking a place to carry on the work, Grisez visited a few major seminaries and corresponded with a couple of others. Some were not really intrested in hosting the project, and some might have done so but only with unacceptable conditions. Another of Grisez’s advance letters to friends, however, was to William A. Ryan, one of the best and last undergraduates Grisez had taught at Georgetown, and one of the few men to whom he had ever suggested becoming a priest. After graduating and serving with the Peace Corps in Africa, Ryan had become a seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Washington, and in the spring of 1977 he was finishing the second of the four years of theology at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary.
Receiving the letter, Ryan at once talked with the Rector, Rev. Harry J. Flynn, who had seen Grisez in action six years earlier, when he gave a lecture at the Seminary on 11 March 1971: “Concerning the Necessary Relationship between Faith in Christ and the Traditional Moral Teaching of the Catholic Church.” So, Flynn wrote Grisez on 19 May 1977—which happened to be the day after the Grisezs mailed the packets seeking support—expressing interest in the project and encouraging Grisez to carry it out, but warning that the Seminary budget could not supply the funding Grisez needed.
From 15 June to 28 July 1977, the Grisezs were in Washington, D.C., finishing research on a book on issues related to euthanasia, which Grisez and Joseph Boyle had been planning for two years (on Joseph Boyle and his work with Grisez click here). On 20 June, the Grisezs visited the Mount, where he discussed the moral theology project with Father Flynn and a few Seminary faculty members. In July, Flynn and Rev. Robert Zylla—a faithful moral theologian who taught at the Mount—came down to Washington for dinner with the Grisezs. So, when Grisez’s October outline arrived at the Mount Seminary, it was well received. And during subsequent months, Grisez updated Flynn about the growing support for the project.
Flynn encouraged Robert Wickenheiser, then President of the Mount, to consider hosting the project. In January 1978, Grisez received an invitation from Wickenheiser to come see him, and their meeting was scheduled at his office on Thursday, 16 February. Grisez expected a complex negotiation, but the President was keen to bring him to the Mount, and the two quickly agreed to work out a way to accomplish that. Five days later, Wickenheiser obtained the Mount Board’s approval and established the Rev. Harry J. Flynn Chair of Christian Ethics.
During the next four months, Grisez finished teaching his spring-semester classes at Campion and drafting the book on euthanasia-related issues, and Jeannette Grisez prepared the manuscript to send to University of Notre Dame Press, which had already accepted the book. The Grisezs sold their Regina house and prepared to move to Maryland. But there was little progress on the contract with the Mount. Campion generously agreed that Grisez could take his sabbatical in 1978–79 and either return from it or not.
In May the Grisezs moved to Maryland, and Wickenheiser finally broke the jam by allowing Grisez to draft his own contract. His draft was accepted with only minor changes and signed on 23 June 1978. Still, it included a contingency clause: it would be effective only when agreement was reached between the Mount and the Trust for Theological Studies—which did not happen until early October.
Meanwhile, as they had earlier when writing a book on free choice, Grisez and Joseph Boyle lived and worked at Capuchin College, near the Catholic University of American in Washington, D.C. From 26 June to 3 August, they spent nearly all their time working through Grisez’s October 1977 outline. As they finished discussing a topic, Grisez dictated to a tape recorder notes that Jeannette transcribed—over 75,000 words filling more than 150 pages.
Open the Notes (PDF)
As Boyle and Grisez worked through the previous year’s outline, they also made a radically different general outline, which Grisez reworked and developed during the next few months as he began his research. Finished in November 1978, the new outline filled fifty legal-sized pages with nearly thirty thousand words. The projected volume, now called Christian Moral Principles, consisted of thirty-four chapters, the first a general introduction and the others divided into six parts:
Part 1: Completion in Christ and Human Fulfillment
Part 2: The Redemptive Act and Christian Life
Part 3: The Church of Christ as Moral Teacher
Part 4: Forming a Christlike Character
Part 5: Obstacles to Full Life in Christ
Part 6: Christ’s Way to Completion in Him
Open the November 1978 Outline of
Christian Moral Principles (PDF)
Grisez worked during the next eight months as steadily and as hard as he ever had before, researching topics he had not previously dealt with and preparing to write the book. Among other things, he studied the entire New Testament, using two or three commentaries on each book. Doing so, especially working through the four Gospels at one time, was an unexpectedly profitable religious experience for him.
During those months, Grisez also sought advice and help from dozens of people. From 29 November to 15 December, he visited people in the midwest and northeast whose help he sought to enlist. In Oxford just after Easter 1979, John Finnis spent almost two weeks helping Grisez understand the central documents of Vatican II. In St. Paul from 3–12 June, Joseph Boyle provided additional important help finishing the outline that Grisez would follow in drafting. There would be 35 chapters in seven parts:
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION
1: Knowledge, Revelation, and Interpretation
2: Theology—Its Parts and Method
3: Renewal in Moral Theology and This Book
PART TWO: COMPLETION IN CHRIST AND HUMAN FULFILLMENT
4: Completion: Perfect Fellowship among Divine and Human Persons
5: The Goods Which Fulfill Human Persons
6: Love: The Divine Fullness Which Fulfills
7: Completion: Divine Gift and Human Goal
PART THREE: CHRIST’S REDEMPTIVE ACT AND CHRISTIAN LIFE
8: Free Choice: The Human Capacity To Be of Oneself
9: Human Acts: The Part of Christian Life Which Is in Our Power
10: Original Sin: The Human Condition to Be Redeemed
11: The Life of Christ as the Principle for Our Lives
12: Following Jesus: Our Life of Christian Acts
PART FOUR: THE CHURCH AS MORAL TEACHER
13: Living One’s Christian Life within the Church of Christ
14: Conscience and Natural Law
15: The Truth of Christ Lives in His Church
16: The Significance of Theological Dissent
PART FIVE: NORMS FOR LIVING A CHRISTLIKE LIFE
17: Considerations Prior to Christian Norms
18: Christian Love as the Principle of Christian Life
19: Concepts Essential to Describe Christian Moral Norms
20: Normative Principles, Virtues, Vices, and Beatitudes—Part I
21: Normative Principles, Virtues, Vices, and Beatitudes—Part II
22: Normative Principles and Specific Moral Norms—Part I
23: Normative Principles and Specific Moral Norms—Part II
24: The Practicability of Christian Morality
PART SIX: SIN: THE OBSTACLE TO FULFILLMENT IN CHRIST
25: What Sin Is and What It Is Not
26: Distinctions among Sins: Sins of Thought
27: Grave Matter, Light Matter, and Fundamental Option
28: Limitations, Defect, and Perversion of Conscience
29: Full Consent and Sin of Weakness
30: The Way of Sin: From Imperfection to Hell
PART SEVEN: CHRIST’S WAY TO COMPLETION IN HIM
31: Christian Perfection and the Primacy of Prayer
32: The Sacraments in General and Baptism
33: Confirmation, the Apostolate, and Personal Vocation
34: Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and the Life of Self-Denial
35: Eucharistic Life as Completion in Christ
On 18 July 1979, Grisez began drafting the first part, and on 14 August that part was finished. As he completed each chapter, Jeannette retyped his carefully edited but messy and sometimes barely legible sheets into pages of an almost perfect master, which she then duplicated for his seminary students and others to whom he would supply the draft as it was written. On 15 August be began drafting part two and finished it on 3 September, which was Labor Day. On Saturday, 8 September, the Grisezs moved to the campus of Mount Saint Mary’s College (where they lived until January 1986 in an apartment within a dormitory whose other occupants were undergraduate students, whose noisiness and misbehavior greatly upset Jeannette). The following Tuesday, he first met with his initial class of seminarians.
Taking hardly any time to relax, the Grisezs worked still harder than ever before into the spring of 1980. During the holidays between semesters, they were in St. Paul, where Joseph Boyle helped Germain with problems in the remaining chapters while their wives visited. When the Grisezs moved from Canada to Maryland in May 1978, their third son, Joseph, then twenty-one, had stayed in Regina. On 23 March 1980, he was killed when the tractor-tanker rig he was driving over a winter road to northern Saskatchewan jackknifed and crushed him. With only a brief interruption for his funeral, the work went on on until Germain finished drafting chapter thirty-five on 21 April and Jeannette had the final part ready a few days later.
When Grisez began using this material with his first-theology seminarians, he found that he had expected far too much. Some were less able and many less willing than he had thought they would be to study and understand what he was writing. The bad effect of their limitations was exacerbated by their conversations with a significant minority of seminary faculty and upperclassmen who shared dissenting views as well as by a culture less conducive to authentic intellectual life than any Grisez had previously experienced.
Moreover, in the summer of 1979, Rev. Harry Flynn had been replaced as Rector by Msgr. Richard McGinnis, whose primary goal was to keep seminarians happy until they were ordained. He was also convinced that the legalistic and simplistic moral theology he had effortlessly “learned” as a seminarian had been perfectly adequate. Unable to fire Grisez, whose contract with the Mount was watertight, McGinnis ordered him to make the course easier for the seminarians, and Grisez also realized that he would have to do so if his work was to serve as a textbook for seminarians elsewhere.
From 15 June to 15 August 1980, therefore, Grisez and Joseph Boyle worked out the greatly simplified outline that shaped the published version of Christian Moral Principles. For most chunks of Grisez’s first draft, they found suitable places in the new outline. For the 1980–81 seminary class, they created a syllabus shaped by the new outline but using the first draft as the textbook and assigning relevant readings from it. In carrying out this revision, however, some sound and helpful passages had to be sacrificed, others had to be abbreviated, and a good deal of new writing had to be done.
In reading any part of the half-million word manuscript that appears below, one should bear in mind that it is only a first draft and was written in just nine months. Of course, there are in it errors and passages that are unclear and possibly misleading, which would have required revision even had Grisez and Boyle not radically reconstructed the book. Passages in it that are even implicitly inconsistent with the published book do not express Grisez’s considered views. But passages in it that are entirely consistent with his later publications yet never repeated elsewhere can rightly be used to round out accounts of his thought.
This unit includes copyright notices, the table of contents, a brief preface, and a key to references within the text. Those about to read any substantial portion of the work will do well to print out this unit so that they will be able easily to refer to it.
Open the Front Matter (PDF)
The first chapter of Part One is ten pages long and is divided into ten sections:
B. Human cognition
C. Rational knowledge about God
D. Divine revelation—its possibility
E. Modern thought ignores divine mysteriousness
F. Divine revelation as living communication
G. Interpretation—introductory clarifications
H. Need for interpretation
I. Interpretation of sacred Scripture
J. Interpretation of other documents
Open Chapter 1 (PDF)
The second chapter of Part One is thirteen pages long and is divided into ten sections:
A. “Theology” and positive theology
B. Systematic theology and its parts
C. Inappropriate methods for systematic theology
D. A more appropriate method for systematic theology
E. Theological method and difficulties
F. Theological method and dialogue
G. Method of moral theology
H. Systematic theology and interpretation
I. Faith—the presupposition of systematic theology
J. The limits of reinterpretation
Open Chapter 2 (PDF)
The third chapter of Part One is nine pages long and is divided into ten sections:
A. Limitations of modern Catholic theology in general
B. Limitations of modern Catholic moral theology
C. The soundness and dynamism of the Church
D. Present opportunities-which call for renewal
E. Integral Christian humanism as the Catholic ideal
F. The renewal for which Vatican II calls
G. The plan of this book and its moral point of view
H The problem of language and its importance
I. The provisional character of this work
J. Prayer and theological work
Open Chapter 3 (PDF)
The first chapter of Part Two is thirteen pages long and is divided into fifteen sections:
B. The problem of human fulfillment—thisworldly approaches
C. The problem of human fulfillment—otherworldly approaches
D. The problem of human fulfillment—a more plausible approach
E. The Christian promise of fulfillment
F. Christian fulfillment—both already and not yet realized
G. The glory of God as His purpose in creating
H. Completion in Christ as the glory of God
I. Completion in Christ: the family of God
J. The vision of God—human sharing in divine life
K. Other aspects of heavenly fellowship
L. The resurrection of the dead
M. The enduring reality of human actions
N. The mutuality of the sharing of goods in heaven
O. Hell—the alternative to willing cooperation toward completion
Open Chapter 4 (PDF)
The second chapter of Part Two is thirteen pages long and is divided into twelve sections:
A. The goodness of creation and evil as privation
B. Evils which raise further questions
C. Hedonism unacceptable as a Christian account of human good
D. To be fully is to be good
E. Human goods—our contribution to completion in Christ
F. A preliminary indication of the goods
G. Human goods pertaining to the existential domain
H. Human goods pertaining to other domains
I. How human goods will be found in heavenly fulfillment
J. Is human life really an intrinsic good of the person?
K. How does one know that these are the goods?
L. Brief notes on some questions to be treated later
Open Chapter 5 (PDF)
The third chapter of Part Two is fifteen pages long and is divided into ten sections:
A. Introductory remarks
B. What human love is
C. Selfish and unselfish love
D. The problem of the one and the many
E. The Holy Trinity: mystery of love
F. Practical implications of the doctrine of the Trinity
G. God’s creative and redemptive action as a work of love
H. God’s love divinizes created persons
I. The love of God poured forth in our hearts
J. A comparison with other views of charity
Open Chapter 6 (PDF)
The fourth chapter of Part Two is eighteen pages long and is divided into sixteen sections:
A. Is there a necessary conflict between divine and human goods?
B. The love of God and human goods as motives for the act of living faith
C. The love of God and of human goods cannot come into direct conflict
D. What love requires of the Christian
E. How is sin possible for Christians?
F. The dynamics of sin, the devil, and hell
G. Actual grace and human action
I. Communing in the Spirit
J. The importance of the lasting significance of human acts
K. Love of God and love of lasting human -goods
L. The lasting-value of present Christian life in relational perspective
M. In what sense the Christian merits
N. In what sense Christian bodiliness lasts
O. How the givenness of bodily life is transcended
P. A comparison with other views of the ultimate significance of this life
Open Chapter 7 (PDF)
The first chapter of Part Three is fifteen pages long and is divided into fifteen sections:
A. That human persons can make free choices
B. Why free choice is important ~ responsibility
C. Why free choice is important—dignity
D. Free choice affirmed only by those who have faith
E. The reality of free choice not a mystery of faith
F. Various meanings of the word “free”
G. The experience of making a free choice—beginning
H. The experience of making a free choice—its unfolding
I. A definition of free choice
J. Some important characteristics of free choice
K. Levels of choice and relationships among choices
L. Choice as self-constitution
M. Habits, virtues, and vices
L. Choices and communities—the social dimension of free choice
O. Corporate personality
Open Chapter 8 (PDF)
The second chapter of Part Three is sixteen pages long and is divided into fifteen sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. Some current errors denying the primary importance of human acts
C. On consequentialism
D. What are morally significant human acts?
E. Simple willing—the volitional actuation presupposed by all action
F. Spontaneous willing and action—premoral human action
G. Acting by free choice—the object of the act
H. Acting by free choice—the end and the good
I. Acting by free choice—commitments and creativity
J. Acting by free choice—foreseen results of what one does
K. Other cases of voluntariness—the voluntary in cause
L. Other cases of voluntariness—executive willing
M. Other cases of voluntariness—omissions
N. Other cases of voluntariness—nonforeseen results and readiness
O. Cooperative action and helping others
Open Chapter 9 (PDF)
The third chapter of Part Three is fourteen pages long and is divided into twelve sections:
A. The most important truth about original sin
B. The teaching of the Church on original sin
C. The testimony of Scripture concerning original sin
D. Difficulties felt in respect to this doctrine
E. Evolution compatible with traditional doctrine
F. Death—both natural and a consequence of sin
G. Revision of the Church’s teaching unwarranted
H. The human condition for which original sin accounts
I. The condition of humankind at the beginning
J. Man’s sin and its immediate consequences
K. Man’s sin transmitted by propagation, not by imitation
L. Replies to some likely objections
Open Chapter 10 (PDF)
The fourth chapter of Part Three is twenty-one pages long and is divided into sevnenten sections:
A. The need for redemption
B. How God satisfies our need for redemption
C. The first stages of the redemptive work of God
D. The Incarnation of the Son as a means of redemption
E. Current theological debates on Christology
F. The unity and complexity of the actions of our Lord Jesus
G. How the actions of Jesus as God are personal acts of the Word
H. How Jesus lives His human life—His basic commitment
I. The use of the Gospels in theological reflection about Jesus
J. The fundamental commitment of Jesus and His temptations
K. The personalization of the fundamental commitment of Jesus
L. Categories of acts Jesus does to fulfill His mission
M. The question: How did the death of Jesus complete His earthly life?
N. Some wrong answers to this question
O. The central human significance of Jesus’ free acceptance of death
P. Other important aspects of the significance of the death of Jesus
Q. The human life and the death of Jesus considered without faith
Open Chapter 11 (PDF)
The fifth chapter of Part Three is seventeen pages long and is divided into sixteen sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. The basis of Christian responsibility
C. The following of God and imitation of Him
D. The relationship of the Christian to Christ
E. The following of our Lord Jesus in redemptive work
F. Personal vocation—the concept
G. Personal vocation—further considerations
H. Various categories of personal vocation
I. A note on the secular priest and the layperson
J. The Eucharist—its institution
K. The Eucharist as the center of Christian life
L. Christian life as liturgy—Christian acts as spiritual sacrifice
M. Christian life as conformity to Jesus
N. Hope—an indispensable condition for living a Christian life
O. Mary and the other saints: examples and companions
P. The Christian lives by the Spirit
Open Chapter 12 (PDF)
The first chapter of Part Four is fifteen ten pages long and is divided into twelve sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. Divine revelation
C. Faith in others
D. Faith in God and in the truths He reveals
E. The dynamics of the act of faith
F. Sin: the only real obstacle and threat to faith
G. Faith as commitment to covenant
H. Faith handed on by those who are sent
I. The unity of God’s People
J. The inherent normativity of faith for moral life
K. The prophetic office of the Church of Christ
L. Prophetic Christian life brings redemption to others
Open Chapter 13 (PDF)
The second chapter of Part Four is twenty-two pages long and is divided into fiftenn sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. Vatican II and Scripture on conscience
C. The common Catholic account of conscience
D. The predicament of those in a conscience box
E. The conscience of the Catholic and the Church’s teaching
F. Moral norms and conscience reduced to mere feelings
G. Most moral norms are derivative
H. Moral norms not received by inspiration
I. Basic moral norms are not facts about human nature
J. Consequentialism once more—why it is plausible
K. Why consequentialism cannot give an account of basic moral norms
L. Choice no substitute for basic moral norms.
M. An initial sketch of the principles of natural law
N. Natural law and revelation as norms of Christian life
O. Moral norms, the Church’s teaching, and conscience
Open Chapter 14 (PDF)
The third chapter of Part Four is twenty-three pages long and is divided into fourteen sections:
A. The infallibility of the Church as a whole
B. The Spirit and the infallibility of the apostolic Church
C. Denials and arbitrary restrictions of infallibility
D. Infallibility in the field of morals—denials and restrictions
E. Scripture as expression of the Church’s belief
F. The Old Testament as a source of moral teaching
G. The New Testament as a source of moral teaching
H. The sacramental teaching office of the bishops and its authority
I. The infallibility of the ordinary magisterium
J. Catholic moral teaching infallibly proposed
K. Definitions of moral doctrines?
L. Teaching which is not proposed infallibly
M. The assent due to such teaching
N. The limits of assent to such teaching
Open Chapter 15 (PDF)
The fourth chapter of Part Four is thirty-five pages long and is divided into twenty-one sections:
A. Mater, si! Magistra, si!
B. A clarification of “radical dissent”
C. Richard A. McCormick, S.J.
D. The radicality of radical dissent
E. Some allegedly analogous past errors
F. The spread of radical dissent into ecclesiology
G. The setting aside of Vatican II’s teaching
H. The choice each Catholic faces
I. Is there any good reason to follow the radically dissenting theologians?
J. Are there any higher theological principles for dissent?
K. How specific norms fall within the Church’s competence
L. Dissenting criticisms of the magisterium’s approach to natural law
M. Does probabilism apply against received Catholic moral teaching?
N. Did the statements of the bishops after Humanae Vitae support dissent?
O. The statement of the bishops of the United States
P. When is radical dissent not dissent?
Q. Genuine development of doctrine
R. Why some wish to change doctrine, not only develop it
S. Legitimate development in the moral domain
T. How can one explain the present situation?
U. One last thought for the seminarian
Open Chapter 16 (PDF)
The first chapter of Part Five is twelve pages long and is divided into fifteen sections:
A. Why should we try to understand the point of moral norms?
B. Other uses and some limits of this part
C. How are norms of any kind related to a corresponding fullness of being?
D. How are moral norms distinguished from other, nonmoral norms?
E. A further note on the relationship between moral and other goods
F. How should Christians regard the moral norms commonly accepted in society?
G. What are the primary principles of all practical reasoning?
H. Further remarks on the primary principles of practical reasoning
I. How the principles corresponding to the basic goods become known
J. What is the primary principle of morality?
K. Further clarification of the primary principles of morality
L. The first principle of morality and various concepts of immorality
M. How does divine revelation deepen and transform morality?
N. How are the commandments of love related to the first principle of morality?
O. Some misunderstandings of the commandment of love
Open Chapter 17 (PDF)
The second chapter of Part Five is ten pages long and is divided into fifteen sections:
A. What is specifically different about Christian love?
B. Additional considerations on specifically Christian love
C. What is most central to the new law of Christian love?
D. Misconceptions concerning the law of the Spirit
E. How is the new law related to Christ as the norm of Christian life?
F. Some additional implications of Jesus as a living norm of Christian morality
G. How do Christian moral norms add to the general human norms of morality?
H. Further comments on the specific character of Christian morality
I. Why does specifically Christian love require moral goodness?
J. A false notion of the specific requirements of Christian morality
K. In what ways does charity transform the significance of human life?
L. Is charity a human act?
M. Further comments on charity and human acts
N. Whether there is an order in charity?
O. Further notes on the order of charity
Open Chapter 18 (PDF)
The third chapter of Part Five is nine pages long and is divided into fourteen sections:
A. Introductory remarks
B. What is distinctive about a primary moral principle?
C. What are modes of responsibility?
D. Further points about modes of responsibility
E. In what way are modes of responsibility transformed in Christian morality?
F. How can one explain the moral goodness of those who have not heard the Gospel?
G. The superiority of explicit faith in Christ and Christian responsibility
H. In what sense are faith, hope, and charity to be considered virtues?
I. What are human and Christian moral virtues?
J. Some critical remarks upon the classical conception of virtue
K. Vices which are proper to Christians
L. What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
M. Theological reflection on the seven gifts
N. What are the beatitudes?
Open Chapter 19 (PDF)
The fourth chapter of Part Five is eleven pages long and is divided into seventeen sections:
A. What is the first mode of responsibility?
B. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility
C. What is the first mode of Christian response?
D. What is most proper to Christian humility
E. Humility, childlikeness, and prayer
F. What is the second mode of responsibility?
G. The commendation of this mode of responsibility
H. What is the second mode of Christian response?
I. What is most proper to Christian dedication
J. What is the third mode of responsibility?
K. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility
L. What is the third mode of Christian response?
M. What is most proper to Christian detachment
N. What is the fourth mode of responsibility?
O. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility
P. What is the fourth mode of Christian response?
Q. What is most proper to Christian faithfulness
Open Chapter 20 (PDF)
The fifth chapter of Part Five is fourteen pages long and is divided into seventeen sections:
A. What is the fifth mode of responsibility?
B. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility
C. What is the fifth mode of Christian response?
D. What is most proper to Christian mercy
E. What is the sixth mode of responsibility?
F. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility
G. What is the sixth mode of Christian response?
H. What is most proper to Christian devotion
I. What is the seventh mode of responsibility?
J. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility
K. What is the seventh mode of Christian response?
L. What is most proper to Christian conciliatoriness
M. What is the eighth mode of responsibility?
N. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility—Old Testament
O. Some Scriptural indications of this mode of responsibility—New Testament
P. What is the eighth mode of Christian response?
Q. What is most proper to Christian self-oblation
Open Chapter 21 (PDF)
The sixth chapter of Part Five is thirteen pages long and is divided into thirteen sections:
B. Do all the modes of responsibility have normative force in the same way?
C. An example to illustrate difference in normative force
D. How are specific moral norms derived from the modes of responsibility?
E. Further remarks on prima facie and unexceptionable moral norms
F. What exactly is the close relationship among the Christian modes of response?
G. How are Christian norms related to common norms?
H. An additional note on specifically Christian norms
I. Are all specifically Christian norms supererogatory?
J. Is anything in Christian life supererogatory?
K. Further subtleties on this matter
L. What is the basis of one’s moral obligation to fulfill divine precepts?
M. Will the present theology square perfectly with received Catholic teaching?
Open Chapter 22 (PDF)
The seventh chapter of Part Five is fourteen pages long and is divided into fourteen sections:
A. How do the modes of responsibility work socially?
B. A note on the notion of the “common good”
C. What is the moral foundation of authority?
D. What are rights and duties?
E. A note on the modern use of the language of rights
F. How ought Christians to regard their own rights?
G. To what extent does one have a duty to obey the laws of human societies?
H. Some further remarks on legal obligations
I. To what extent do Catholics have an obligation to obey the law of the Church?
J. How are conflicts of duties distinguished from other moral problems?
K. The classical understanding of double effect
L. When may one act in a way one foresees will have humanly bad effects?
M. Final remarks on acts with foreseen bad effects
N. A normative note on cooperation
Open Chapter 23 (PDF)
The eighth chapter of Part Five is nine pages long and is divided into twelve sections:
B. In what sense is Christian morality an ideal?
C. Can Christian morality be taken literally?
D. Is it possible to fulfill the norms of Christian morality?
E. Is the Christian life likely to lead to disaster?
F. A further note on Christian responsibility in social matters
G. How do people organize their lives?
H. Why do the lives of many Christians seem to become stalled?
I. How personal vocation can organize life
J. How does the organization of life in response to vocation lead to progress?
K. How can Christian perfection be demanded without rigorism?
L. A note on the complexity of the moral methodology
Open Chapter 24 (PDF)
The first chapter of Part Six is thirteen pages long and is divided into fifteen sections:
B. Sins to be avoided in teaching and preaching concerning sin
C. Scriptural indications concerning sin—Old Testament
D. Scriptural indications concerning sin—New Testament
E. What is sin?
F. How can a person choose to do what is morally evil?
G. In what sense is all sin.a violation of the law of God?
H. In what sense is all sin turning from God to the creature and oneself?
I. The prudence of stressing law and selfishness in Christian teaching today
J. How do nonbelievers account for sin?
K. The notion of deviant behavior and the criticism of conventional morality
L. How can Christians explain the data used to support other accounts of sin?
M. Moral evil extends beyond individuals but originates in individuals
N. How can sin and redemption coexist both in humankind and in the individual?
O. Ought one to say that the Church herself is sinful?
Open Chapter 25 (PDF)
The second chapter of Part Six is twelve pages long and is divided into twelve sections:
A. Not all sins are equally serious
B. How do sins differ in seriousness?
C. Theological foundation of the distinction between mortal and venial sins
D. What is a mortal sin?
E. Sins of ignorance, of weakness, and of set purpose
F. According to which modes of voluntariness is mortal sin possible?
G. Personal responsibility for social sins
H. How are mortal sins distinguished in species?
I. How are mortal sins distinguished in number?
J. How important are sins of thought for Christian morality?
K. At what point does mortal sin begin in sins of thought?
L. What are the most common kinds of sins of thought?
Open Chapter 26 (PDF)
The third chapter of Part Six is thirteen pages long and is divided into thirteen sections:
B. An account of fundamental option as basic commitment
C. Is it true that everyone has a fundamental option as a basic commitment?
D. Further comments on this approach to fundamental option
E. The hypothesis of another kind of freedom
F. What arguments are given for the existence of fundamental freedom?
G. How can these arguments be answered?
H. Is there always a final option at the moment of death?
I. Why ought all these theories of fundamental option to be excluded theologically?
J. How does St. Thomas distinguish between grave and light matter?
K. Critical remarks on the position of St. Thomas
L. How are mortal sin and one’s life in the Church related to one another?
M. How does faith render some kinds of acts light matter?
Open Chapter 27 (PDF)
The fourth chapter of Part Six is thirteen pages long and is divided into fourteen sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. Does conscience develop?
C. Comments on the three levels of conscience
D. What are the most important differences among the three levels?
E. What is required for sufficient reflection?
F. Mitigating factors in moral consciousness
G. What are the practical implications of these mitigating factors?
H. Some diverse states of conscience distinguished
I. Some sources of innocent mistakes
J. What are the moral implications of failures of conscience which are one’s fault?
K. How does faulty instruction contribute to errors of conscience?
L. A review of what is meant by “probabilism”
M. What are the value, the limits, and the dangers of probabilism?
N. What are some pastoral implications of the preceding considerations?
Open Chapter 28 (PDF)
The fifth chapter of Part Six is thirteen pages long and is divided into twelve sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. How do the will and emotions affect one another?
C. Some further clarifications of emotion and morality
D. What are the main types of sin of weakness?
E. What are the conditions which define the semi-compulsive sin of weakness?
F. General considerations on the mitigation of guilt in sins of weakness
G. Are all sins of weakness which meet the usual conditions mortal sins?
H. Some arguments against the preceding conclusion and answers to them
I. Can the semi-compulsive sinner through weakness simply stop sinning?
J. What pastoral guidance is appropriate for apparent semi-compulsive sinners?
K. How must one deal with occasions of sin?
L. What is the place of sin—especially sin of weakness—in Christian life?
Open Chapter 29 (PDF)
The sixth chapter of Part Six is twelve pages long and is divided into fifteen sections:
A. Introductory remarks
B. What is imperfection?
C. Concerning the Devil
D. What are the sources of temptations?
E. How do venial sins present a serious threat to Christian life?
F. What are the seven capital vices?
G. The capital sins in contemporary terms
H. How are cupidity and pride general principles of sin?
I. The notion of sins which cannot be forgiven
J. How are the sins against the Holy Spirit related to one another?
K. Some pastoral notes on the preceding dynamics
L. On the general concept of punishment
M. Does God punish?
N. Is it compatible with Catholic faith to think of hell as empty?
O. The many safety nets of the new moral theology
Open Chapter 30 (PDF)
The first chapter of Part Seven is seventeen pages long and is divided into eighteen sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. What is the perfection to which Christians are called in this life?
C. How does charity grow toward perfection?
D. Perfection especially to be sought by bishops and priests
E. Some serious errors to be avoided in thinking about progress toward perfection
F. What is prayer and why is it primary among Christian acts?
G. Further considerations on the necessity of prayer
H. The centrality of Jesus in Christian prayer
I. What characteristics ought to mark Christian prayer?
J. The problem of petitionary prayer
K. Why should liturgical prayer be the center of each Christian’s prayer life?
L. Some further considerations concerning liturgical prayer
M. Is every Christian called to contemplative prayer?
N. Further reflections on contemplative prayer
O. Some reflections on the psychology of prayer and on distractions
P. Charismatic renewal
Q. What is the role of sacramentals and devotions in Christian life?
R. Why should priests especially cultivate prayer?
Open Chapter 31 (PDF)
The second chapter of Part Seven is fourteen pages long and is divided into fourteen sections:
A. Introductory remarks; Trent on the sacraments in general
B. Background and a preliminary summary
C. What are the sacraments insofar as they are Christian moral principles?
D. Further aspects of the reality of the sacraments
E. What is God’s part in the sacramental cooperation?
F. What is the human action of our glorified Lord in the sacraments?
G. The Church’s action in the sacraments
H. What is the importance of the recipient’s action in sacramental cooperation?
I. What is the importance of baptism?
J. On infant baptism
K. How are preaching, conversion, and faith related to baptism?
L. How is baptism related to one’s sharing in the Church and in divine life?
M. What are the implications of baptism for the moral life of Christians?
N. The basic life of prayer and devotion suited to all the baptized
Open Chapter 32 (PDF)
The third chapter of Part Seven is eleven pages long and is divided into twelve sections:
A. Introductory considerations
B. What is the specific aspect of Christian life consecrated in confirmation?
C. Further considerations on the professing of faith
D. Scriptural data and the sacrament of confirmation
E. How are apostolate and confirmation related to each other?
F. Should one’s whole life be lived as a response to one’s personal vocation?
G. A note on recreation
H. Why are strength and courage the special graces of confirmation?
I. What catechetical formation is appropriate for confirmation?
J. How is discernment of spirits to be practiced?
K. What forms of prayer and devotion are appropriate to the apostolate?
L. How is the sacrament of orders related to confirmation?
Open Chapter 33 (PDF)
The fourth chapter of Part Seven is thirteen pages long and is divided into sixteen sections:
A. Christian life as pilgrimage
B. The necessity of penance in addition to baptism
C. What is the essential fruit of the sacrament of reconciliation?
D. What does contrition contribute to reconciliation?
E. The confession of sins
F. How does penance organize the entire life of a Christian?
G. Likeness to Jesus in the penitential life
H. What are the primary forms of penance suited to us today?
I. On the Christian use of mass media
J. How is restitution different from penance?
K. At what age should Catholics begin to receive the sacrament of reconciliation?
L. How does the sacrament of the anointing of the sick complete penance?
M. The sacrament of anointing and death
N. How are purgatory and indulgences related to penance?
O. Prayers and devotional practices appropriate to Christian life as penitential
P. The penitential dimension of priestly life
Open Chapter 34 (PDF)
The fifth chapter of Part Seven is ten pages long and is divided into thirteen sections:
A. The complexity and simplicity of the Eucharist
B. How is sharing in the Eucharist sharing in the sacrifice of Christ?
C. How does the Eucharist nourish spiritually those who live with Jesus’ life?
D. Some theological errors concerning the Eucharist
E. How does the Eucharist transform Christian moral life?
F. How is the Eucharist a pledge of glory?
G. How does the Eucharist constitute the Church?
H. How the Eucharist transforms culture and history
I. How does the sacrament of marriage relate to the Eucharistic life?
J. How does the Liturgy of the Hours extend the Eucharist throughout one’s life?
K. What is required of the priest by his special role in the Eucharist?
L. Prayer and devotion especially appropriate to the Eucharistic life
M. Adoro Te devote
Open Chapter 35 (PDF)
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