God 'determined to call together in the holy Church those who believe in Christ'

Lumen Gentium

Morals

Catholics and Modern Culture

Morality is the law of love

What’s it all about? Why are we in this world? What is the sense of our existence? Throughout history, many attempts have been made to answer these fundamental questions through various philosophies and ideologies; the answers have in many cases led to dissatisfaction and uncertainty.

Think of the Marxist project that held so much sway in the 20th century. This reduced men and women to mere numbers whose existence was aimed solely at producing an economic surplus.

Those who were seen not to fit in were often eliminated. Stalin killed at least 10 million of his own people; Mao, 70 million.

The Nazi ideology, based on a perceived need for a rebirth of a pure race, claimed millions of lives.

Present-day movements and systems, enshrined in a secularism that does away with God, often have more subtle, though no less pernicious, aims.

Witness the destruction of millions of embryos in the name of progress and wellbeing.

In the book of Genesis we read about the great dignity of the human person, who, created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1,26), is the summit of all creation. Everything that exists was created to serve our needs, and we ourselves were created for the service of God (CCC 358).

But Genesis is not the only book in which we read about our great dignity. There are other very significant passages, such as in the book of Wisdom: “For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him”. And in Psalm 8 we read, “Yet you have made him little less than a God, crowned him with glory and honour”.

This capacity or yearning for God distinguishes the human being from the rest of creation (CCC 299). It is what most properly characterises men and women. Indeed, to the questions, “What makes the human being different from an animal?” and, “What is specifically unique about human beings?”, the answer has to be that God made them capable of thinking and loving, that they can know and love him and others.

We can only be truly fulfilled when we are fully aware full awareness of this identity. In us there is a kind of “structure”: created in the image and likeness of God, who is Communion of Love (1 John 1,8), we are called to the great vocation of love.

However, the introduction of sin has darkened our consciousness of this identity. Consequently, it is now difficult for us to understand our innermost desires, our restlessness, even our very selves.

The fundamental break with God that sin caused has also affected the person’s relationship with himself: our very identity has been wounded as well. This has consequences in the relationship that we have with each other and with creation. Egoism, selfishness, insecurity, and fear are just some of the manifestations of the situation in which we find ourselves after the original sin.

Yet God’s love for the human being keeps sustaining us. God continues to call us to live in full communion with him. God is always ready to forgive and reconcile us, and to lead us to beatitude. This is possible by virtue of Christ’s grace which makes us participants in the divine life.

Jesus presented the beatitudes as the way to fulfil the innate desire for happiness that God has placed in the human heart. Only God can satisfy this desire. United with God we are able to rediscover ourselves in a new way, as well as appreciate anew our relationships with other people. The communal dimension is an essential component of our nature and vocation, which needs to be expressed as a fruit of this noble calling.