YEAR 12






                LIVE, RELATE AND WORK




This chapter presents the following key understandings and learning points

Key Understanding 1
Christians find meaning and purpose through how they live, relate and work

1.1 People search for meaning and purpose in their lives
1.2 Christian vocation requires and supports each person to grow in their faith
1.3 Christians are called to share in Jesus’ work of transforming humanity

Key Understanding 2
People develop through relating with others

2.1 Through relating with each other people find happiness and opportunity for personal
2.2 Committed love is essential for people to contribute to God’s work
2.3 Charity empowers the Christian mission

Key Understanding 1
Christians find meaning and purpose through how they live, relate
and work

1.1 People search for meaning and purpose in their lives
Work is a basic human need
Work is a basic human need for many reasons. Two particularly
important ones are:
 the need to feel recognised by others as making a contribution to the
 access to the world’s resources for the necessities of life.

The need to contribute
People need to work in order to experience the growing sense of
fulfilment that reflecting God brings. They need to contribute in some
way to the lives of individuals, to society or creation. People cannot
develop their personal gifts unless they use them in appropriate ways. In
addition to knowing that they are contributing, people like to feel that
their contribution is recognised by others. Being social by nature, people
need to feel that others see them as having something useful to offer.

Everyone needs to work. Unless they do so, they are affected in many
ways, for example, they:
  become dissatisfied and unhappy with themselves
  feel unfulfilled
  grow bored
  feel they are wasting their lives
  become frustrated.
  fail to provide for their life-needs
  fail to provide for their families
  fail to ensure that their children have an adequate education.

Such experiences reinforce the reality that the need to work is part of
human nature.

Access to the earth’s resources
As well as contributing to others, society and the environment, God gave
people an additional task. This was to draw from the earth’s resources in
order to sustain their own lives:

       To you I give all the seed-bearing plants everywhere on the
       surface of the earth, and all the trees with seed bearing fruit; this
       will be your food. You are free to eat of all the trees in the
       garden. Every living thing that moves will be yours to eat, no less
       than the foliage of the plants. [Genesis 1:29; 2:16 and 9:3]

In today’s society, one way people gain access to the earth’s resources
is by the ‘products’ of their work (money to buy what they need, products
or goods to exchange). They have a right to access the earth’s
resources in order to:
   provide for their own life-needs
   provide for their families
   ensure the adequate education of their children.

Each is entitled to sufficient of the earth’s resources to provide for his or
her life necessities.

       Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of
       providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the
       human community. [CCC 2428]

The necessities of life are everything that is needed to have the living
conditions needed for personal growth and maturity.

       …food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education,
       employment and social assistance. [CCC 2288]

Everyone is called to contribute to God’s work
God began creation, and continues to support its existence and
development. The various ways God continues this are referred to as
‘God’s work’. So, Jesus said:

       My Father still goes on working. [John 5:17]

God’s work includes continuing to sustain the ongoing existence and
development of:
  individuals
  human society
  creation.

God created the elements, powers and forces in nature that sustain all
life. These continue to develop because each is sustained by God. We
may be more aware of some rather than others, but no one should lose
sight of the fact that nothing could continue to exist if God stopped
sustaining it.

While God’s work continues, God also created human nature in the
image and likeness of its Creator [Genesis 1:27]. So God created in
people the need to work. In this way, God calls each to play their part as
‘God’s fellow-workers’ [Catechism of the Catholic Church 307].

Contributing to God’s work
There are many activities where people work. Each has its different
emphasis upon individuals, society and the environment. The healthiest
life-style will include in some way elements of all three (though not
necessarily to the same degree). As God supports individuals, society
and the environment, people best express human nature by also
contributing to all three in some way,

Working in any of these areas can involve thousands of possible
activities. The briefest reflection upon human society will show that they
range, for example, from those concerned with seeking greater
understanding (research, learning, exploration) to different roles in
society (scientists, health care workers, agriculturists, economists,
human rights activists), and others which relate to the co-ordination of
human efforts (management, politics, leadership).

Human work activities take place at many levels, including the family,
the school, industry, the Church, business, community services,
technology, sport, and art.

Human work
The human need to reflect the Creator is the source of the inner human
need to work.

       Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image
       of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the
       earth, both with and for one another. [CCC 2427]

People’s happiness is very much affected by whether or not they are
working. God created in each person the talents, gifts and skills needed
to fulfil their role. Many of these may have been inherited through
parents and families, but it is God who is their ultimate source:

       In work, the person exercises and fulfils in part the potential
       inscribed in his (or her) nature. The primordial value of labour
       stems from the individual (him or herself), its author and its
       beneficiary. [CCC 2428]

To reflect God people need to engage in activities that support the
development of:
  creation
  individuals
  human society.

Work and employment the distinction
Many people consider work, ‘a job’, and employment to mean the same
thing. As a result, those who are unemployed do not realise that they
can still contribute to society in ways that are useful - or that, unless they
do so, much of their potential will remain unfulfilled. This can lead to
feeling a loss of self-worth.

The human vocation, or calling, that stems from human nature, and the
Christian vocation which is received through Baptism is different from
‘work’ and ‘employment’. ‘Work’ is any human activity that reflects the
God who sustains the existence of others, society and creation,
‘employment’ is those work activities which attract income. As people
understand this they realise that everyone can work and find a sense of
fulfilment, regardless of whether they are employed or unemployed.

Employment is the work for which one is paid. Employment provides the
means by which many draw from the earth the resources to which they
are entitled.

Many today seek employment but cannot find it. Unemployment is an
issue in today’s world especially among the young people and certain
groups of people.

Most people work but attract no income
Many people do work that draws no income. They contribute to the lives
of others, society and creation in a variety of ways.

Even for those who are employed, most of their time is taken up with
work that does not attract income. They engage in many more activities
that reflect the work of God than those which earn an income.

God’s value of work is based on the worker not the income
The work people do varies enormously. However, the value of the work
is based upon the fact that each is co-operating in the work of God. By
doing so, each is reflecting God. So, for example, the work of a person
caring for a family or sick person is of no less value than that of a
multinational executive, provided people use their gifts to contribute to
others, society and the environment in the ways God intends.

It can be useful to discover what values society considers important as
reflected by what people earn. For example, what is the implication of
offering less remuneration to people-oriented services than those in
businesses concerned with making larger material profits? What value is
placed on home-making and family care by current taxation and financial

God does not place different values on people because of their gifts or
the different ways in which they contribute to God’s work. This idea may
be strange for those living in a competitive society. Christian teaching
will be hard to accept for anyone who values work for reasons
associated with status, wealth, power and influence.

There are many ways in which people can collaborate with God as
‘God’s fellow-workers’ in society. There are many possible ways of
helping to sustain and to develop the lives of others, human society and
the environment.

People often fail to realise the distinction between vocation, work and
employment. As a result, unemployed people who are not aware of God,
of God’s work, or the human calling to become God’s fellow-workers,
often fail to realise that they:
   can contribute in meaningful ways to others, society or creation
   can enjoy the same rights to the resources of the earth as others
   are entitled to marry, to begin families and to provide their children
    with an adequate education.

Not realising these things, unemployed people can experience suffering
and even anger. Often, they feel that they:
  do not belong to society to the same extent that others do, and are
  have little to offer
  are respected less by others.

In Catholic teaching, Christians are called to work towards the relief of
the sufferings of the unemployed.

       It is particularly painful when (unemployment) affects young
       people, who, after cultural, technical and professional
       preparation, fail to find employment, and see their sincere wish to
       work and their readiness to take on their own responsibility for

        the economic and social development of the community sadly
        … and to express their dignity as people. [Human Work 18]

Unemployment and vocation
There are many ways unemployed people can co-operate with God.
These range from opportunities in family life, to voluntary community and
social activities. An understanding of Christian vocation should
encourage those who are unemployed to:
  rise above their feelings, especially disappointment and any sense of
  seek other ways to use personal talents, qualities, interests and skills
  appreciate the importance of trying in other ways to serve others,
   society and creation
  recognise their dignity as people and their call to be God’s fellow-

For Christians, it is important to keep emphasising the vocation to
develop one’s God-given potential and to find ways to contribute to the
development of others, society and creation, even if there is no financial
reward. As they do so, they will find the personal sense of fulfilment that
comes from reflecting God, the Creator.

Unemployed people face many challenges. These include experiences
of rejection of frequent job applications, social attitudes implying laziness
and criticism for drawing on social security being some.

It requires courage to face the personal challenges unemployment can
bring. Everyone has the right to work. However, the capacity of a society
to provide employment opportunities is affected by many factors, both
local and national as well as international. As a result, it is unlikely that
everyone seeking employment will find it.

Unemployed people need to keep asking questions such as:
  who are the people to whose lives I can contribute, beginning with
   their families but going beyond them, especially to others in need?
  what human needs can I help meet in our society, especially those of
   people suffering illness, rejection, homelessness, poverty, loneliness
   or isolation?
  what are ways I can help change society for the better, its structures,
   media, Church, industrial, political and other institutions?
  what organisations or causes that are concerned with the welfare of
   others could I contribute to
  what skills do I have and can use to help other people?

It is not easy to ask such questions if one feels depressed, undervalued
or trapped by poverty. However, unless such questions are asked,
personal potential remains unfulfilled and long-term pain can be much

What is a vocation?
People generally have a sense that there is a path they need to follow in
life. Indeed, until they find it, they tend to feel lost and to lack the inner
sense of direction. This affects them in other ways as well, especially in
their ability to enter into permanent relationships and commitments. This

sense, commonly called ‘vocation’, shows itself in many ways such as,
for example:
   questions about one’s own future
   the desire to develop one’s potential
   wondering about future studies and careers
   discontentedness with life when there is lack of personal direction
   realisation of a need to spend more time with family
   the desire to be recognised as a contributor
   thoughts about career changes
   wanting one’s life to be ‘productive’ in the sense that it makes a
    difference to other people (not the materialistic sense of the word).

The sense of personal vocation was created by God in each person.
Each has been created to reflect God by ‘working’ in a particular way.

People discover their vocations by listening to thoughts and interests
that emerge from within, by trying to discover and develop their potential
talents and other gifts, and by constantly asking themselves: ‘How does
God intend me to contribute to others, society and the environment?’

Questions about future occupations remain with people even as adults.
They have concerns such as:
  will I get a job?
  where are the best employment opportunities?
  what can I do if I find myself unemployed?
  when I leave school, should I try first to get a job or continue with my
  if I should study, what course should I choose?
  is what I am doing the best thing for me?
  might I get married?
  how best can I provide for my family?
  is what I am doing worth-while?
  will I feel of less value if I cannot get a job?

Concerns such as these are reflected in people’s thinking in a number of
areas. They show that they have a sense of vocation.

Because only God can answer this question, many realise that it is
essential to pray for God’s guidance in the search for their vocation in

As people prepare themselves and engage in the work or the tasks God
intends, their potential talents and other resources develop. This leads
them, in turn, to experience a greater sense of personal fulfilment, inner
happiness and contentment.

Alternatively, if people fail to engage in the activities assigned them by
the Creator, their potential remains less developed. They find
themselves less fulfilled and unhappy.

Christians recognise their calling from God
One of the things Jesus came to do was to make it possible for people to
recognise their callings from God, and to follow them. The way he does
so is by making clear to each his or her calling in a personal way. The
first examples of this are found in the Gospels:

       As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
       Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew … And he
       said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of
       people’. [Matthew 4:18-22]

       He saw another pair of brothers, James, Son of Zebedee and his
       brother, John … and he called them. [Matthew 9:9]

       (Jesus) saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and
       he said to him, ‘Follow me’. Jesus turned round, saw (the two
       disciples of John the Baptist) following and said, ‘What do you
       want?’. They answered, ‘Rabbi, where do you live?’ He replied,
       ‘Come and see’. [John 1:35-43]

       (Saul) fell to the ground, and then heard a voice saying, ‘Saul,
       Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ he
       asked, and the answer came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are
       persecuting. Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what
       to do’.
       {Acts 9:5-6]

Jesus calls people personally through the Holy Spirit
Jesus of Nazareth called his followers by word. Today, however, he
does so through the Holy Spirit whom he shares with his people through

God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit live within every baptised
believer. It is through the Spirit that Christians today discover their
personal calling. The Holy Spirit is the One Jesus promised:

       … will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to
       you. [John 14:26]

The key to discovering a personal calling is to keep trying to ‘listen’ to
the voice of the Lord. This involves listening to the Word whenever it is
proclaimed, thinking about what it is teaching and praying.

As the believer enters into ‘dialogue’ with Jesus, the Spirit’s guidance is
received gradually through the thoughts, interests, concerns and
perspectives on life that develop.

       To be able to discover the actual will of the Lord in our lives
       always involves the following: a receptive listening to the Word of
       God and the Church, fervent and constant prayer, recourse to a
       wise and loving spiritual guide, and a faithful discernment of the
       gifts and talents given by God, as well as of the diverse social
       and historic situations in which one lives.

       The history of every priestly vocation, as indeed of every
       Christian vocation, is the history of an inexpressible dialogue
       between God and human beings, between the love of the God
       who calls and the freedom of individuals who respond lovingly.

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       This is the constant paradigm, the fundamental datum of every
       vocation: whether of prophets, apostles, priests, religious, the lay
       faithful — everyone. [Vocation and Mission 58 and Shepherds

Personal vocation becomes clear in different ways
People have heard their Christian calling from God in many different
ways for thousands of years. This is important to recognise when trying
to work out one’s personal vocation and the journey it involves. Four of
ways for recognising vocation are:
   a sense of direct calling
   a calling identified with others’ help
   a calling recognised by looking back
   a calling recognised after another’s suggestion.

The following Old Testament examples are among the more explicit
examples of people working out God’s calling.

A sense of a direct calling
Abraham and Moses provide good examples of God calling people

       Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your kindred and
       your father’s house for a country which I shall show you; and I
       shall make you a great nation’. [Genesis 12:1-2]

       (Yahweh then said to Moses) now I am sending you to Pharaoh,
       for you to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. [Exodus

For some people today, their vocation becomes clear in a flash of insight
and conviction. The moment may occur in prayer, during the Eucharist
or after some significant experience or event in their lives.

The calling identified with the help of others
The prophet Samuel provides a good example of someone being called
by God, but not recognising this until someone else guided him to the
source of what he was hearing.

       Eli then understood that Yahweh was calling the child, and he
       said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say,
       “Speak Yahweh, for your servant is listening”’. So Samuel went
       and lay down in his place.
       Yahweh then came and stood by, calling as he had done before,
       ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak Yahweh; for your
       servant is listening’. [1 Samuel 3:9-10]

For some their vocation becomes clear only with the help of others.
These may be parents, priests, religious brothers or sisters, teachers or
close relatives or friends.

The calling recognised by looking back over time
The prophet Jeremiah is a good example of someone who prayed and
did faithfully what he believed to be right day by day. Only eventually did

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he recognise the call of God as he looked back over the path his life

        The word of Yahweh came to me, saying:
        ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to
        birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the
        nations.’ [Jeremiah 1:4-5]

For many their calling becomes clear as they look back over the
direction their lives seem to have taken. They have simply tried to live
and worship as Jesus taught, and to make the right decisions, one at a
time, they have discovered themselves already following a path. The call
of Christ has been gradual, and they find themselves becoming
conscious of a calling they are already following.

The calling recognised through others
The prophet Elisha is a good example of someone told of his vocation by
someone else.

        Leaving there, (Elijah) came on Elisha, son of Shaphat as he was
        ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being near the
        twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him.
        Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. [1 Kings 19:19-20]

        (The action of throwing the cloak was an ancient eastern symbol
        of handing over the person and rights of the owner. In the
        prophet’s case, it was also a handing over of the calling and
        powers given him by God.)

Some people can remain unaware of their calling until another person of
faith is led by Christ to see it and suggest it to them.

Human weaknesses make it difficult for people to discover
Although people have the potential to discover their vocations, they
share weaknesses that make it difficult for them to do so. These include:
  disconnected to God
  lack of awareness of personal vocation
  materialistic thought
  dominance of technology
  economic rationalism
  valuing capital before labour.

Not connected to God
Many people lead lives that leave little time for God. As a result, they are
not ‘connected’ to God and so have less chance of recognising God’s
guidance toward their path in life. As a result, they can make mistakes in
the career they choose and other life decisions. Personal gifts will not be
fulfilled and there will be a lack of long term happiness.

Unaware of personal vocation
Many people think about the future without realising that they are called
to a vocation. As a result, they give little thought to their path in life, and
fail to follow it.

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Materialistic outlook
A materialistic outlook on life will place little importance on religious
values or upon the importance of contributing to the lives of others. They
are inclined to ignore the fact that they have a calling from God when
considering their futures because they place little value upon the things
of God:

       The danger of treating work as a special kind of ‘merchandise’, or
       as an impersonal ‘force’ needed for production...always exists,
       especially when the whole way of looking at the question of
       economics is marked by the premises of materialistic
       economism. [Human Work]

The domination of technological progress
The use of technology can be liberating when it is used for the good of
the world and respects the rights of everyone:

       The very process of ‘subduing the earth’, that is to say work, is
       marked in the course of history, and especially in recent
       centuries, by an immense development of technological means.
       This is an advantageous and positive phenomenon, on condition
       that the objective dimension of work does not gain the upper
       hand over the subjective dimension, depriving man of his dignity
       and inalienable rights or reducing them. [Human Work 10]

On the other hand, technology can be seen as an end in itself and
progress seen as good no matter what the consequences. This is even
more the case when the consequences are not clear or so far removed
that the link between technology and its bad effects is hard to prove.

Technology is abused when the needs of people are ignored solely for
purposes of profit, including the need for employment.

Economic rationalism
This is a philosophy or outlook on life which measures benefit or good by
the resulting level of profit:

       Economic rationalist thinking is based on two basic assumptions.
       First, individuals are to be given the utmost freedom to pursue
       their own material well-being…

       Secondly, the freedom of the market is seen as sacrosanct, so
       any regulation or intervention, even by government, is suspect…
       [Common Wealth p.36f]

The effects of economic rationalism are evident in the world. People
suffer due to the implementation of value-free concepts whilst ignoring
the plight of those who have been denied justice in the distribution of

Productivity is so important that the means to achieve it do not really
matter. If the poor and the vulnerable suffer as a result they are ignored.
The amount of financial gain is all that matters. Things are more
important than people, and it is only the ‘bottom line’ that matters.

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This approach has deprived some of job opportunities, led many to lose
jobs, and others again to accept unfair wages and conditions.

Some movements in the world seek to drive wages down, even, in some
cases, to below subsistence levels. They violate many values revealed
by Christ, and ignore the rights of people to employment and to their just
share of the goods of the earth:

       In the age of… industrial development… conflict originated in the
       fact that the workers put their powers at the disposal of the
       entrepreneurs, and these, following the principle of maximum
       profit, tried to establish the lowest possible wages for the work
       done by the employees. [Human Work 11]

For these movements, those who work are mere ‘chattels’, useful only
for making others rich. They reflect attitudes such as these:
   ‘they should be only too glad to have a job’
   ‘if they do not like it, we will move our business off-shore’
   ‘the more the better-off have, the more will trickle-down to those at
    the bottom’.

Valuing capital before labour
When capital has priority over labour, the result is exploitation and
environmental degradation. The Catholic Church teaches that labour
takes priority over capital.

       It remains clear that every human being sharing in the production
       process, even if he or she is only doing the kind of work for which
       no special training or qualifications are required, is the real
       efficient subject in this production process, while the whole
       collection of instruments, no matter how perfect they may be in
       themselves, are only a mere instrument subordinate to human

       On the basis of … work each person is fully entitled to consider
       himself (or herself) a part-owner of the great work-bench of which
       he (or she) is working with everyone else. A way towards that
       goal could be found by associating labour with the ownership of
       capital, as far as possible. [Human Work 12, 14]

Instead of following a materialistic outlook people can begin to wonder
whether there might be more to life. This can have a major effect on
people discovering their vocations. For someone already in employment,
such a realisation might stimulate them to try to change jobs so that their
vocation can be better lived out through different work.

A gradual realisation of the proper role of technology and of the priority
of labour over capital can be signs that a person is not satisfied with their
present life and desires help to move in the direction of their vocation.

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1.2 Christian vocation requires and supports each person to grow
in their faith

People have been given the gifts to follow their vocation from God. The
actual calling is received through Christ, as was the case for the
Apostles. As people relate with Jesus, their calling grows, being made
increasingly clear by the Holy Spirit as they respond to Christ.

Catholic belief can be summed up as follows:

       From eternity, God has thought of us and has loved us as unique
       individuals. Every one of us (God) has called by name, as the
       Good Shepherd ‘calls his sheep by name’.
       [Vocation and Mission 58]

Only in the unfolding of the history of our lives and its events is the
eternal plan of God revealed to each of us. It is a gradual process that
happens day by day.

Apart from relating with Christ, Christians need to do other things as
well. For example they need to do all they can:
  to understand the various activities involved in different forms of
  to develop their human gifts, their talents and other abilities.

Christians find themselves growing in conviction about their vocations,
some realising them in a ‘flash of insight’; others only gradually. The
stimulus is always the call of Christ.

Many remain confused about their future directions and decisions. Such
confusion is very likely for those not open to the guidance and calling of

Jesus calls people in every generation to share in his work. As they
follow their own vocations people lead others to respond to Jesus
because of their example. They play the parts God created them for in
the whole of creation in ways God originally intended.

The Christian response requires openness to Jesus
Every vocation requires acceptance of God’s calling. The first followers
of Jesus left behind what they had been doing quite decisively and
followed him. [e.g. Matthew 3:20, 22]

It is not always easy to accept this reality as the Gospels show. In the
story of the Rich Young Man, we read of how Jesus loved the youth who
kept persisting with his questions. However, in the end, he could not
follow because the calling in his case seemed too radical.

       He was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before
       him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to
       inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me
       good? No one is good but God alone. You know the
       commandments: You shall not kill; You shall not commit adultery;
       You shall not steal; You shall not give false witness; You shall
       not defraud; Honour you father and mother.’ And he said to him,

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       ‘Master, I have kept all these since my earliest days.’ Jesus
       looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he
       said, ‘You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own
       and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in
       heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words
       and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

       Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for
       those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The
       disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My
       children,’ he said to them, ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of
       God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
       than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were
       more astonished than ever, saying to one another, ‘In that case,
       who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them and said. ‘By human
       resources it is impossible, but not for God: because for God
       everything is possible.’ [Mark 10:17-27]

This story and Jesus’ response to it show that, at times, a Christian’s
vocation can seem radical and alternative. However, God helps people
who are willing to follow their true vocation.

Many today focus more upon wealth and material things, but fail to find
fulfilment. Personal fulfilment and satisfaction with life remain elusive.

The key challenge is to seek and accept the help Jesus promises. Jesus
promises always his support and help. No one is meant to follow their
vocations alone.

       If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce
       himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. [Luke
       9:24; Matthew 11:28-30]

The Christian Vocation
At times, Christians can become so involved in aspects of the work of
Christ that they forget it is his work. As a result, they forget to keep in
touch with him, and to work with him.

The Apostles worked with Jesus, the first recorded Gospel description of
the Apostles is that they were to be his companions. Working with
anyone closely requires communication and collaboration.

       They were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim
       the message with the power to drive out devils. [Mark 3:14]

The ways Christians maintain this companionship is through worship
and daily prayer.

       And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time. [Matthew

       Where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them.
       [Matthew 28:20]

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With Jesus, vocations always bring fulfilment and happiness. But without
his help, some will be unbearable. Those who do not accept their calling
because they do not seek the support of Christ face challenges they do
not like, they never find true happiness or fulfilment.

To live the Christian vocation people need to:
  seek the companionship of Jesus, especially through worship and
  try to understand better the Word of God
  pray for guidance about the future
  find out all that is involved in various workers to which we may feel
  ask for help to leave behind whatever tempts us not to follow.

The question for any Christian who is uncertain about future directions
is: ‘to what extent am I responding and allowing Christ to guide me?’

As people pray for guidance in their vocations privately and in worship,
especially in the Eucharist, they co-operate with the Holy Spirit who
seeks to free them from the confusion of values, attitudes and other
human weaknesses that hamper personal vocation discovery.

Reaching God-given potential
Co-operating with God towards personal development is as much part of
an individual’s work as is their co-operation in the development of
others, society and the environment. People co-operate with God in their
own development, by:
   listening for God’s guidance
   preparation, especially study
   restorative rest and recreation.

Listening for God’s guidance
God has the best knowledge of every individual. For example God
   the purpose of each person’s life
   their personal potential
   the work that will lead to fulfilment of each person’s talents, gifts and

God knows the careers, relationships, and the life-styles that will lead to
the fulfilment of every person’s God-given potential. As the psalmist

       O Lord, you search me and you know me,
       you know my resting and rising,
       you discern my purpose from afar.

       Before ever a word is on my tongue you know it,
       O Lord, through and through.
       O where can I go from your spirit,
       or where can I flee from your face?

       If I climb the heavens, you are there.
        If I lie in the grave, you are there.
       For it was you who created my being,

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       knit me together in my mother’s womb.

       Already you knew my soul,
       my body held no secret from you
        when I was being fashioned in secret
       and moulded in the depths of the earth.
       [Psalm 139:1-2, 4, 7-8, 13, 15-16]

God knows the answers to every individual’s significant questions.
People need to listen for God’s guidance in order to co-operate with the
Creator towards their personal development. In practice this means:
  worshipping God, especially in the Eucharist
  trying to understand what God has already revealed, especially in the
  praying daily.

Preparation through study
To work effectively, preparation is needed. This involves both study and
the learning of necessary skills.

People need to develop their intelligence, their talents and skills. The
concept of human work, includes doing what can be learned from
parents and others, from school, training and tertiary studies.

Recreation and restorative rest
Recreation is the word used for any activity that aims to strengthen or
restore people in some way. It can include exercise, listening to music,
engaging in outdoor activities and many other examples.

Recreation helps prepare for further work. It is essential if people are to
let go of stresses and fatigue. It is essential for people in order to work
effectively in family, social, school, study, employment or other activities.

Recreation is important, without it, work is less effective. An individual’s
capacity to reflect God through work is lessened.

Rest is also restorative. Without adequate rest, people cannot work
effectively. Without rest, tiredness affects people’s emotions and their
ability to think. Tiredness makes it more difficult for people to relate with
others and relationships can become strained.

Without rest, the guiding voice of conscience can be lost.

       It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to
       himself in order to hear and to follow conscience. This
       requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often
       distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection.
       [CCC 1779]

The first of the two biblical stories of Creation describes God, as
‘resting’. This figurative imagery guides people to know how they need to
reflect God in work and rest

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       People ought to imitate God both in working and in resting, since
       God himself wished to present his own creative activity under the
       forms of work and rest. [Human Work 25]

Human work not only requires a rest every ‘seventh day’, it must leave
room for individuals to prepare themselves, by becoming more and more
what in the will of God they ought to be, for the ‘rest’ that the Lord
reserves for his servants and friends [cf. Matthew 25:21].

Many people equate work with employment and do not realise that
preparation and rest are essential in work.

                                                             19 | P a g e
1.3 Christians are called to share in Jesus’ work of transforming

God created people to be God’s fellow-workers in the development of
individuals, society and the environment. There are many examples
where God’s purpose has not been fulfilled.

As people disconnect themselves from God, values become distorted,
unworthy motives grow and confusion about the purpose and meaning
of human life increasingly prevail. Attitudes towards work change as

God’s original intention is lost. The consequences are clear in the lives
of individuals, society and the environment.

To remedy this, God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son to take on a
human nature as well as a divine nature. The work of the Son of God in
his humanity was to restore the human relationship with God to that
originally intended.

God did not intend suffering
People suffer in many ways not intended by God. Experiences of
violence, war, exploitation and injustice, or physical, emotional and
psychological abuse are not what God wants for people.

These and many other forms of human suffering are consequences of
human choices. Such choices are contrary to the intention of the
Creator, and reflect the human tendency to disobey God.

In the language of the Scriptures, this tendency is referred to as ‘human

Reflecting God
The Creator’s intention was that people behave in ways that reflect God.
God intends human society to reflect its Creator. God wishes human
society to be characterised by such qualities as love, justice,
compassion, mercy and special concern for the poor, the sick, the
disabled and the weak. There are many examples of people in society
reflecting such qualities.

Unfortunately there are those people who reflect the opposite. This
results in many examples of selfishness, injustice, lack of understanding
and mercy and indifference to the poor, the sick, the disabled and the

Societies in general tend to reflect the attitudes and values of their

The environment
Many today are deprived of their share of the earth’s resources because
of environmental misuse and degradation. There is hunger, disease and
poverty. Much of the beauty of the earth has been destroyed.

Jesus calls his followers to share in his work today
The work of Jesus was not simply to transform one race and one

                                                                 20 | P a g e
generation. It was to offer personal transformation to every nation and
generation. Jesus taught his followers that they were to share in his work
and to contribute to the development of individuals, society and the
environment as God originally intended.

In the Gospels, Jesus sends out the:
   twelve ‘to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal’ [Luke 9:2]
   seventy two to help by preparing people to accept him [Luke 10:1].

Before his final departure, he told them:

       Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation.
       [Mark 16:15]

Ever since, there have been Christians who have accepted a share in
the work of Jesus and Christianity has spread throughout the world.

Not all those who hear the message of Jesus accept their share in his
mission. Sinfulness maintains a greater force in human society than
should be the case. The effects of this can be seen by all in the
destruction and exploitation experienced in the lives of individuals,
society and the environment.

Working to transform society
Whatever the vocations or the life-styles to which they are called,
Christians who respond to Christ find themselves becoming concerned
about his concerns. They want to contribute to his work and encourage
people to see and develop all that is good. As they function in this way,
they find themselves being gradually transformed.

The call to Christian revolution
Jesus Christ was a revolutionary in the sense that wherever he saw evil,
he sought change so that it was replaced by goodness. The Gospels
offer many examples.

Like Jesus, Christians are called to be revolutionaries, seeking to
change evil wherever they encounter it and to promote what is good.
Christians are revolutionaries in ways that always reflect love, justice
and special concern for those in need.

Christian revolution never uses means such as violence, manipulation or
any forms of deception or exploitation. They are inconsistent with true
Christian transformation, for Christ told his followers to:

       Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those
       who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. [Luke 6:27]

Change is brought about in society by promoting values. People can
foster change at any age regardless of their employment, social or
economic status.

Forming society
Many Christians take the trends, attitudes and institutions of society for
granted. They give little thought to whether what they lead to is right or
wrong. They accept unquestioningly the truths on which their societies

                                                                21 | P a g e
have been based. They may be persuaded that trends and institutions
are correct, or they may not see connections between these and evils in
society. They may find it hard to see that in songs, TV shows,
advertisements and media editorial policies, there can be the promotion
of wrong values. They may not realise the power of some social
institutions upon public opinion.

Evil in society is ultimately the result of evil in the hearts of individual
people. As Jesus taught:

        For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge:
        fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, indecency,
        envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within
        and make a person unclean. [Mark 7:21-23]

Many people are reluctant to question for themselves, much less
challenge, social trends and structures. They find it easier to follow
rather than lead within their families or among their friends and

The conscience of many societies remains unformed or even declines,
because of Christians who tend to conform to the moral values and
trends of their societies. There are many examples of behaviour
considered acceptable, but which conflicts with the teachings of Jesus,
especially those related to truth, honesty, justice, marriage, family life
and human sexuality.

Lack of dialogue with God
It is within conscience that people communicate with God and become
more aware of God and God’s guidance.

Many Christians fail to form their conscience by failing to dialogue
adequately with God. They neither worship on Sundays nor pray daily.
As a result, God’s voice may seem the voice of a stranger and not easily

They make errors in moral judgements and mistakes in life because they
cannot recognise God’s guidance. They contribute to the decline in the
conscience of their society, rather than advance it.

Ignorance of God’s laws
For a society’s conscience to become formed, people need to know right
from wrong. Unless they do, they can be mistaken in their moral choices
and the moral standards of their society can fall.

It is essential for the members of a society to know all that God has
taught. God has revealed what people would find difficult to discover
alone. People need the example and the active support of the followers
of Christ.

Many Christians fail to give this support by living in ways contrary to
God’s laws. They fail to engage in social debates or to challenge the
institutions and means of communication in their society when these
permit or encourage what is wrong.

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Many in society fail to develop their conscience because they find it
difficult to take the time needed for reflection and self-examination. The
economic demands of modern society, along with the pace of life, make
it hard for people to live life-styles that allow the necessary time.

The speed of life today causes tensions and stresses that leave people
driven almost completely by feelings and emotions. Many people fail to
ensure that there is sufficient time in their lives for reflection and self-
examination. They become swept along, rather than develop the inner
conviction needed to challenge society.

Trying to live without God’s help
Much of the Christian message is difficult to live. The key to this difficulty
is failure to appreciate the fact that God does not intend the Christian
message to be lived without the help of the Holy Spirit. The New
Testament in many places teaches of the need to draw on God’s help:

       you must take up all God’s armour, or you will not be able to put
       up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even
       though you exert yourselves to the full. [Ephesians 6:13]

Freedom to develop society
Deep within people is a yearning to be freed of all inner influences that
prevent them doing what they can in their families, among their friends
and in the wider society to bring about growth and development.

Christians yearn to be free to promote the development of society
through the experience of Christian Salvation.

People yearn for freedom, they yearn for Salvation, that is, healing from
everything that hampers their capacity to continue to contribute to the
development of society.

One effect of Christian Salvation is that God restores human nature.
Gradually, people can overcome their weaknesses. When they keep
relating with God as Jesus taught, they find themselves increasingly
functioning as the Creator originally intended.

They become people who can identify ways they can contribute to social
change for the better. They can find themselves guided by God when
difficulties arise. They can find themselves empowered to rise above
fears of opposition and rejection.

Through Baptism, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ‘make a
home’ within believers [John 14:23].

People need to respond to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus
promised would strengthen his followers. They must allow the Holy Spirit
to renew them.

Jesus showed in his own life how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. In the
Gospels, he is described as being:
 led by the Spirit [Luke 4:1-13]
 empowered by the Spirit to overcome the power of the Devil [Luke

                                                                  23 | P a g e
Jesus taught his followers that they respond to the Spirit by praying,
worshipping and trying to live the Christian life. As they do so, they can
  their conscience to be alone with God
  the four functions of conscience
  their conscience to empower their moral decision-making
  their conscience to empower the development of moral responsibility
  the essential principles for resolving moral conflicts .

God created everyone with free will and so their active cooperation is

Jesus showed how to develop society
To help people respond to the Holy Spirit, Jesus came to serve as a
model and teacher of how to develop society.

Jesus sought to develop his society by example as well as by words.

The actions of Jesus teach how society should treat:
  the poor [Luke 6:20]
  the rejected [Luke 6:22]
  sinners [Matthew 9:10-13].

Jesus teaches right and wrong through his words. For example, by:
  calling on all to love [John 13:34-35] and to forgive [Matthew 18:35]
  teaching ideals that lead to a moral life-style [Matthew 5:3-12; 5:48]
  forbidding immoral thoughts, words and actions [Matthew 5:20-48;
  empowering people to live moral lives by sharing the Holy Spirit with
   them [John 14:26]
  condemning whatever could lead others to sin [Matthew 18:6].

Jesus teaches the importance of faithfulness, even in the face of
persecution and rejection. He shows how to:
  resist temptations [Matthew 4:1-11]
  resist pressures from others to do wrong [John 8:6]
  remain faithful to his mission in the face of rejection [John 6:59-66]
  overcome fear [Luke 22:39-46] and social pressures [Luke 5:27-30]
  continue his mission in the face of opposition and attempts to trick
   him [Matthew 21:23-27]
  proclaim his message even in Jerusalem, despite known risk to his
   life [Matthew 26:1-2].

Jesus sought to change society
Jesus sought to develop his society by confronting the Devil, the source
of all conflict against the way of God. Those who follow Christ face the
same basic conflict.

In presenting the ministry of Jesus in terms of a duel between God and
Satan, the Gospels do not suggest this is a duel between equals. Satan
and other spiritual beings opposed to God, called ‘demons’ in the
Gospels are created beings who rejected God. As created beings, their
power is not equal to that of God. This is why demons recognised Jesus:

                                                               24 | P a g e
       I know who you are: the Holy One of God.

       ...he also drove out many devils, but he would not allow them to
       speak, because they knew who he was.

       And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw him, would fall down
       before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God! [Ephesians 6:13]

The Gospels present the first battle between Jesus and Satan as taking
place in the desert, where Jesus was tempted three times. Jesus
resisted each temptation.

       Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil
       left him, until the opportune moment. [Luke 4:13]

The Gospels also showed Jesus had the power to break the power of
the Devil, the source of all evil influences in human society.

Jesus did this by:
     freeing those possessed by evil spirits [e.g. Matthew 8:28-34;
      9:32-34; Mark 1:23-28; 5:6-20; 7:25-30; Luke 4:33-37; 11:14-15]
     freeing people from physical ills, understood at the time to be the
      result of possession:
           - epilepsy [Mark 9:14-29]
           - loss of sight and speech [Matthew 12:22-24]
           - physical disability [Luke 13:11-13]
           - other ailments [e.g. Luke 8:2]
           - probable psychiatric disorders [Mark 9:20-29].

When Jesus went into Jerusalem to proclaim the Good News:

       the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of
       Simon, to betray him. [John 13:2]

       Then Satan entered into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was one
       of the Twelve. He approached the chief priests and the officers of
       the guard to discuss some way of handing Jesus over to them.
       [Luke 22:3-4]

       ...after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. [John

        Jesus recognised the influence of Satan in the events he faced.
       He knew that his death and Resurrection would be the definitive
       struggle between Satan and himself.

               I shall not talk to you much longer, because the prince of
               this world is on his way. He has no power over me, but
               the world must recognise that I love the Father and that I
               act just as the Father commanded. [John 14:30-31]

               Then Jesus said to the chief priests and the captains of
               the Temple guard and elders who had come for him...
               ‘this is your hour; this is the reign of darkness’.
               [ Luke 22:52-53]

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       Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of
       this world is to be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the
       earth, I shall draw all people to myself.
       By these words, he indicated the kind of death he would die.
       [John 12:31-34]

Jesus showed himself more powerful by facing death and rising again.

After his Resurrection:

       Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in
       heaven and on earth has been given to me’. [Matthew 28:18;
       Luke 24:45-49]

He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to

        ‘So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day
       rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the
       forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning
       from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.

       And now I am sending upon you what the Father has promised.
       Stay in the city, then, until you are clothed with the power from on

Christians can experience the power of Christ’s conquest in their own
lives by relating with God as Jesus taught.

Jesus knew that Christians would continue to face persecution in its
various forms because Satan would continue to tempt people to resist

The experience of the early Christians
Christianity began with a small number of people in the pagan Roman
Empire. At the time, evils on a vast scale were the norm. The Christian
message was so confronting to people that, in the first centuries,
Christians experienced terrible persecutions.

For Christians, history taught what Jesus meant when promising his
Church that:

       the gates of the underworld can never overpower it. [Matthew

The ‘underworld’, sometimes translated to ‘hell’, was understood to be
the source of all evil and the realm of Satan.

Christians promote awareness of God’s law
God created the human will and intends that people use this ability
responsibly. God wants people to choose that which is good and to do
what is right. Only as they do so will societies across the world develop.

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God also knows that within people there are many human weaknesses.
People find these weaknesses can affect their thoughts and emotions.

These weaknesses can cause people to develop attitudes and
prejudices that conflict with their potential to reflect God.

Their weaknesses can lead people to make mistakes about what is good
and right. People can become indifferent to the sufferings of others.

People often recognise immediately the prejudices, resentments, selfish
desires and insensitivity of others. However, human sinfulness can make
it harder for them to recognise these weaknesses in themselves.

God, the Creator of human nature, loves people too much to leave them
to the mercy of their human weaknesses. God wishes for each to find
the inner peace that comes only when conscience, thoughts and
emotions function in harmony. God seeks to protect people from the guilt
and regrets that result when thoughts or emotions urge them to behave
in ways that conflict with their consciences.

God offers divine power
God offers relief from the hold of human weaknesses by sharing divine
power with all who are willing to accept it. Jesus taught how people can
accept this into their lives by instituting the Seven Sacraments. He also
explained the ways people can make their prayers powerful.

God offers guidance
God offers people relief from their human weaknesses through personal
guidance. The most important guidance God offers is through the Holy
Spirit. This Spirit becomes increasingly significant in believers’ lives
through Baptism and Confirmation.

To help people avoid making serious mistakes about what is good, and
right, God gives guidance in the form of laws. There are three kinds of
laws that offer Christians guidance. These are:
   Natural Law
   Divine Law
   laws of the Church.

Followers of Christ who are seeking to grow in the Holy Spirit are
concerned about understanding and obeying each of these laws. They
are concerned also with cooperating with God by promoting awareness
of these in their efforts to develop their societies.

People’s consciences call them to love, to do what is right and to avoid
what is wrong. The same is true of a society. What a group thinks is right
depends upon the ideas of those who make it up. So, the conscience of
society develops as the consciences of those who make it up are formed
and developed.

Christians can contribute to the development of their society
For Christians, developing the conscience of a society means doing
what they can to influence it, both as individuals and in groups. They
seek to help their societies reflect the Gospel of Jesus. They try to
encourage members of their society to evaluate social trends,

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institutions, laws and structures from the perspective of the Christian

Christians influence the conscience of society in three important ways:
  through their personal lives
  by joining groups in society
  by influencing social institutions as individuals or in groups.

Personal influence
Every person in varying degrees influences others for good or evil.
People influence each other’s thoughts, perspectives on life and
attitudes. In everyone’s life, there are those who influence them in
different ways.

Jesus told his followers that they were to influence others by their
example as well as by their words. By trying to live as he taught, they
would influence others whether consciously or not.

        You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be
        hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on a
        lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the
        same way, your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing
        your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.
        [Matthew 5:14-15]

Standing out in society, especially by living differently from social trends
and attitudes, can be difficult.

If Christians fail to worship, pray or to live as Jesus taught, they will be
less effective in influencing their society for good. They may even be
irrelevant. Jesus used the image of salt to emphasise this point.

        You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what can
        make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be
        thrown out to be trampled under people’s feet.
        [Matthew 5:14-15]

There are many ways Christians, either alone or with others, can
influence their society. Those who seek to follow Christ can influence the
ideals, the truths that form the basis for how others think, and their ideas
on goodness in many ways. For example, they can:
   reflect Christian teachings when expressing opinions
   discuss in friendly ways or respectfully put forward Christian points of
   show friendship
   support others in times of need
   offer friendships to those who feel rejected
   join in activities that interest others
   visit people who are sick or lonely
   participate in community services and projects.

The influence of groups in society
Christians contribute to the development of a society by joining groups,
be they Church groups or others. There are many obvious examples of
people grouping together to change the conscience of society.

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Influencing social institutions
Christians need to recognise the institutions that influence a society in
order to contribute towards the development of that society.

These institutions include:
  the family
  the commercial world
  the media
  political organisations
  legal organisations
  professional organisations
  industrial structures
  international structures
  educational organisations
  recreational organisations

The range of institutions means that there are many ways individuals
can try to exercise influence within them. This influence can affect the
ideals, foundational truths and ideas on goodness and what is right of
these institutions. It can affect the particular ways institutions evaluate

Christians need to identify the social institutions that discourage people
from living the Gospel. Only then can they try to change them.

Christian vocations are concerned with the development of society
Christians are called to contribute to developing society through different

Some are called to live and work with others as lay faithful. Lay faithful
are called to contribute through their families and friends, their places of
employment and where they recreate.

Others are called to help develop society as priests and consecrated
religious. Their role is to nurture and to support the faith of the lay
faithful. They are also called to do what they can in general society.

The command of Jesus to ‘make disciples of all nations’ and to ‘teach
them to observe all the commands I gave you’ makes it clear that
Christianity cannot be a private religion. It is a religion concerned with
changing society so that the world functions more as its Creator intends.

Christians in each generation need to evaluate the society in which they

They need to identify:
  Christian ideals that are not appreciated, such as compassion and
   oneness with God
  social trends which are inconsistent with the Gospel
  how society can value personal honesty and respect for the dignity
   of others
  social institutions and trends that need to be resisted and changed
  ways that they can personally promote the greater development of
   social conscience.

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Christians promote what is needed for the formation of society
A person’s conscience needs to be formed. Likewise, to promote the
development of society it is necessary to encourage each member of a
society to form their own conscience. A just society develops as the
number of people with formed conscience grows within it.

Without the formation of conscience, people cannot know which moral
principles apply to the daily life situations they face. They confuse
conscience with what ‘feels right’ at the time:

       Conscience must be informed and moral judgement enlightened.
       A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its
       judgements according to reason, in conformity with the true good
       willed by the wisdom of the Creator. [CCC 1783]

Those working for the development of society need to do what they can
to improve the conditions in society that give individuals greater
opportunities for personal conscience formation. Personal conscience
formation requires four things:
   dialogue with God
   a life-style that allows inner quiet or ‘interiority’
   a knowledge of moral principles
   the practice of regular examination of conscience.

Dialogue with God
If conscience is ‘where people are alone with God’ and where ‘the
individual can dialogue with God’, conscience formation demands that
people enter into this dialogue.

Catholics do so mainly in the following ways:
  by participating together in celebrations of the Sacraments and the
  by praying alone to God.

Dialogue with God through Sacraments and the Word
Through Jesus, God is most immediately present during Celebrations of
the Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Word. Through these, believers
join with Jesus as he:
   prays to God the Father
   through the Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gifts they need for their

During liturgies, people pray for personal and communal guidance and
help. They pray also for forgiveness, spiritual strength and the needs of

For Catholics celebrations of the Sacraments and Liturgies of the Word
lead to deeper experiences and awareness of God. This makes dialogue
with God easier.

When joining Jesus in liturgies, Catholics ask for guidance on the moral
questions and issues in their lives.

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Dialogue with God through daily prayer
Daily prayer is necessary to live as a Christian. Without it, people cannot
be close to God. Nor can they be as aware of their personal needs, or
able to draw daily upon the gifts they have received from God.

Christian prayer focuses upon giving praise and thanks to God, asking
for what is needed and expressing sorrow for sin. Prayer places before
God personal questions about right and wrong in daily life.

In daily prayer God shapes people’s thinking and feelings. It becomes
easier to know and to live as God wants.

Christians encourage religious activities within their societies in order to
bring people closer to God.

They encourage, for example:
  respect for the worship, prayer and beliefs of all religious people
  discussion with other religious people about God, worship and prayer
  people to become more aware of God and all that Jesus reveals
   about right and wrong
  others by listening to their questions, especially about the moral
   aspects of their lives
  others by offering advice, when it is sought, from a Christian

Promoting a life-style that allows ‘interiority’
Conscience is an ‘inner’ experience. People need to become more
‘centred’ or ‘self-aware’ in order to form their conscience. To form their
conscience, people need to build periods of inner reflection, quiet or
‘interiority’ into their life-styles.

This is needed both to hear the ‘echoes of God’s voice’ within, as well as
to work out how to behave morally in practical daily life situations.
Interiority is necessary to reflect upon a situation, and for people to ask
   What moral laws or principles relate to this situation?
   Considering the action, my intention and these circumstances, what
    is the morally right thing to do?

Many people do not know how to slow down, to find some quiet time and
to be reflective.

       It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to
       himself in order to hear and follow the voice of conscience. This
       requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often
       distracts us from reflection, self-examination or introspection...
       [CCC 1779]

People find it hard to take the time needed to identify social pressures
and trends and to work out for themselves what is and right and wrong.

Promoting knowledge of moral principles
Jesus gave his Church the task of continuing his moral teachings.

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       … teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. [Matthew

Christians do what they can to promote these teachings. The sources of
these are the Law of God and Natural Law. No moral teaching of the
Church can contravene these Laws. The Church has no power to teach
differently from what God intends.

People are always learning something new about significant life-
questions such as, relating with God, self-understanding, relationships,
and the purpose of life. The discovery of truth in relation to these
questions is never complete.

No one can work out good or evil, right or wrong in every situation. The
formation of conscience is a life-long process.

       The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the
       earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice
       of the interior law recognised by conscience.

       Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear,
       selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings
       of complacency, born of human weakness and faults.

       The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and
       engenders peace of heart.
       [CCC 1784]

Christians know that many people wonder about the moral aspects of
social issues and trends. Christians also know that it is their conscience
that urges them wonder about these kinds of questions.

       In loyalty to conscience, Christians are joined (with the rest of
       humanity) in the search for truth, and for the right solution to so
       many moral problems which arise both in the life of individuals
       and from social relationships. [Modern World 16]

While recognising that they themselves have much to learn, Christians
seek to share with wider society the moral laws and teachings of God.

They do so in many ways, including by:
  showing others the Christian way of life
  promoting greater awareness of relevant Christian teachings
  raising awareness that there are moral dimensions to social
   questions, issues and concerns
  arguing the need to change social laws and institutions if these
   violate God’s laws
  encouraging everyone to understand moral laws and principles
  refusing to cooperate when others wish to act in ways contrary to
   God’s laws.

In Catholic belief, Christians are obliged to contribute towards the
formation of the conscience of society in order to reflect God.

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Regular examination of conscience
Any human gift requires development. The same is true of conscience.

Through an examination of conscience, individuals work out whether
past, present or future actions are right or wrong. For Christians, an
examination of conscience makes judgements based upon the teachings
of the Gospel.

       In the formation of conscience, the Word of God is the light for
       our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into

       We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross.

       We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the
       witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative
       teaching of the Church. [CCC 1785]

Christians know that no individual, group or society has more authority
than their Creator. No parliament, human authority or Church is greater
than God.

Christians encourage the examination of the conscience of society. They
lead all in the evaluation of social trends and institutions from the
perspective of God’s law.

The conscience of society
The conscience of society can be evaluated by studying its ideals and
the truths it follows. It can be evaluated by its ideas about goodness and
love and by its ideals of justice, fairness, equality, hospitality and

A society may be founded upon certain basic truths. A society will tend
to reflect its ideas about goodness and love in its laws and customs. For
example, it will punish those who commit murder, steal or who defame

Societies vary
The ideals, basic truths and ideas on goodness and love can vary from
one society to another. For example:
  some societies accept racial discrimination, whereas others believe
   in racial equality
  some societies permit the deliberate killing of human life (for
   example, by euthanasia or abortion), while others do everything they
   reasonably can to protect life
  some societies accept class systems which give some classes
   privileges not available to others, while other societies give all the
   same opportunities
  some societies accept child labour, while others insist upon the
   education of children
  some societies accept the practice of slavery, while others outlaw it.

When thinking about the variations between societies, it is important to

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      the conscience of a society can develop, becoming more as its
       Creator intends. For example, within the last two centuries,
       slavery was accepted in the United States, and the slave trade
       was accepted in parts of Europe. Yet, as more people within
       those societies recognised the equality and dignity of every
       human person, gradually the consciences of those societies
       developed, and slavery was outlawed. More current examples
       are the growing social awareness of the need to give proper
       respect to the environment and ecological responsibilities.

      the conscience of a society can also regress. For example,
       violence, dishonesty, indifference to those in need and
       exploitation can grow again, replacing previous eras of social
       order and respect.

      within societies, there will always be groups at different stages of
       conscience development.

Christians are called to develop social conscience
Jesus sought to change his society. He stressed the importance of the
Law of God [Matthew 5:17-19]. He also gave his own commandments.
He then told his followers to continue changing the world.

       Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations;
       … and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.
       [Matthew 28:19-20]

Christians are called to follow Jesus and be activists for all that is good.
Christian living is about trying to bring about change for the better rather
than being simply passive or conformist.

Human nature has been created in the ‘image and likeness’ of its
Creator. God intends people to develop their potential to reflect the
attributes of the Creator to others. God also intends human society to
reflect these attributes to both its members as well as to other societies.

A society can reflect God’s attributes, such as love, compassion and
justice, as far as the individuals who make it up do so.

A society will reflect the divine rather than the weaknesses of human
nature, when its members develop their religious potential.

Christian values particular to human work
Christians who co-operate with Jesus in his work of transforming human
society practise and try to encourage others to practise, twelve basic
values. These summarise a wide range of scriptural teachings and can
be grouped under the aspect of human work to which they relate.

Working for the development of individuals
Sharing in the work of Jesus by developing individuals in families,
among friends, within the school and the wider community means
promoting the following four values:

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              the dignity of the person
              human life
              religious freedom
              the family

Working for the development of societies
Sharing in the work of Christ and trying to influence society is
fundamental if society is to develop more as God intends. Five values
are particularly important:

              social justice
              the common good
              service
              human solidarity
              the proper participation of all

Working for the development of the environment

              respect for God’s creation
              stewardship of the earth’s resources
              the quality of the human environment.

The dignity of the person
Human dignity belongs to each person from the moment of conception
until death. It remains whether the person is young or old, sick or
healthy, employed or unemployed, disabled or mentally or physically
able. It is not lessened by any characteristic, race, economic or social
status, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion or religion.

For Christians, to respect the dignity of the individual is to respect the
dignity of Christ. They remember Christ’s teaching that how they treat
him is shown in their treatment of others [Matthew 25:40].

The dignity of every person is emphasised in Catholic teaching,

       To rediscover, and to make others rediscover, the inviolable
       dignity of every human person makes up an essential task — in a
       certain sense, the central and unifying task — of the service
       which the Church, and the lay faithful in her, are called to render
       to the human family. [Vocation and Mission 37]

Among all other earthly beings, only people are conscious and free
beings. The dignity of the person is the most precious possession of an

The equality of all people
Every human being is valued equally. A person can never be used as
an object or as a means or thing. The dignity of the person constitutes
the foundation of the equality of all people. As a result, all forms of
discrimination are totally unacceptable.

To respect the dignity of an individual is to respect the dignity of Jesus,
for he identified himself with those in need, saying that however people
treated them they treated him. Catholic teaching states:

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       Today there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the
       neighbour of every person, no matter who they are, and if we
       meet them, to come to their aid in a positive way.
       [Modern World 27]

Every violation of the personal dignity of the human person is an offence
against God.

Technology at the service of humanity
Technology is good provided it remains an instrument at the service of
humanity and never used as a means to violate basic human rights,
especially the right to life.

Technology brings humanity great power. Catholics are called to do
what they can to ensure that technology remains a tool for human
welfare and to discourage any uses that violate human rights or enable
economic and other forms of dominance, by some over others.

       Today, maximum vigilance must be exercised by everyone in the
       face of the phenomenon of the concentration of power and

       In fact, such a concentration has a tendency to manipulate not
       only the biological essence, but the very content of people’s
       consciences and life styles, thereby worsening the condition of
       entire peoples by discrimination and marginalisation.
       [Modern World 27]

Fostering the dignity of the human person means doing what one can:
            to ensure that technology is used only for the service of
            to foster the observance of human rights

The defence of human rights
Promotion of the dignity of the human person requires doing all that one
can to ensure the rights of people are respected, especially those who
are less powerful.

       the personal dignity of every human being demands the respect,
       the defence and the promotion of the rights of the human person.
       [Vocation and Mission 38]

In many parts of the world, Catholics face political and other difficulties in
their efforts to defend human rights.

       The Church has never yielded in the face of all the violations that
       the right to life of every human being has received, and continues
       to receive, both from individuals and from those in authority.
       [Vocation and Mission 38]

The human being is entitled to such rights in every phase of
development from conception until natural death; and in every condition,
whether healthy or sick, whole or disabled, rich or poor.

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The inviolable right to life
God, the Creator, has given every individual the right to life. This right is
received from the beginning of the person’s life at conception.

The right to life is protected by the Fifth Commandment, ‘You shall not
kill’. This commandment cannot be violated by anyone, all have been
created by God and are subject to the wishes of their Creator. Even if
parliaments pass laws permitting the killing of innocent human life, such
as those allowing abortion or euthanasia, such laws violate the Law of
God as well as the God-given rights of individuals. They have no moral

Defence of the right of every person to life is a serious obligation.

       Everyone has the mission and responsibility of acknowledging
       the personal dignity of every human being and of defending the
       right to life. [Vocation and Mission 38]

In 1965, all the Catholic Bishops in the world were gathered in Rome for
the second Vatican Council. Together, they identified the violations
against the Right to Life that Catholics are called to defend.

       All offences against life itself, such as every kind of murder,
       genocide, abortion, euthanasia and wilful suicide; all violations of
       the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical
       and mental torture, undue psychological pressures; all offences
       against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions,
       arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the
       selling of women and children, degrading working conditions
       where individuals are treated as mere tools for profit rather than
       free responsible persons. [Modern World 27]

Religious Freedom including freedom of conscience
Many in society are aware of their dependence upon God. They know
with Catholics and other practising Christians that it is only because of
God that

       … we live, and move and exist. [Acts 17:28]

God calls all to enter into relationship with their Creator through worship
and prayer, as well as by trying to live as the Creator commands. No
human person or group has the right to prevent others from responding
to God’s call.

       The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right
       to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all people
       should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social
       groups and every human power, so that, within due limits,
       nobody is forced to act against their convictions in religious
       matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with
       others. [Human Dignity 2]

Religious freedom does not extend to the deliberate violation of rights
given to people by God.

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Freedom of conscience
Because conscience is where people ‘dialogue with God’ [Modern World
16], religious freedom also requires freedom of conscience, that is, the
right to follow what a person genuinely believes is the command of God.

For most people, religious freedom is one of the easiest of the human
rights to violate unconsciously, for it is easy to follow social trends
without question, and to pressure others to do the same. Pressure can
be applied through ridicule, argument, nagging and the threat of

The Family
The family is the most basic community in society. Stable relationships
between mother, father and children provide essential nourishment
individuals need to develop as people.

       Therefore a primary concern is reserved for this community,
       especially in these times when human egoism, the anti-birth
       campaign, totalitarian politics, situations of poverty, material,
       cultural and moral misery, threaten to make these very springs of
       life dry up.
       [Vocation and Mission 40]

Every human being has the right to form a family and to have adequate
means to support it [Family 46].

The rights of the human family, which everyone, individually as well as
through their membership of society, is morally obliged to safeguard, are
articulated in Church documents: [Family 46]:

Every human family has the right to:
  exist and progress as a family
  exercise its responsibility regarding the transmission of life and
   education of children
  the intimacy of conjugal and family life
  political and economic security
  exist and progress as a family
  the stability of marriage
  believe in and profess one’s faith and to propagate it
  bring up children in accordance with the family’s traditions and
   religious and cultural values
  to obtain housing suitable for living family life in a proper way
  expression and representation, either directly or through
   associations, before the economic, social and cultural public
   authorities and lower authorities
  form associations with other families and institutions
  protect minors by adequate institutions and legislation
  wholesome recreation of a kind that fosters family life
  grow old in a worthy life and experience a worthy death
  emigrate as a family in search of a better life.

Social Justice
The objective of social justice is to do all that is possible to ensure
individuals and groups enjoy the rights God has given them. Social
Justice requires concern for those in need.

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Social Justice is the term used to describe all efforts and activities that
seek to:

       provide the conditions that allow associations or individuals to
       obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their
       vocation. [CCC 1928]

God the foundation for social justice
The ultimate foundation for social justice is God. To the extent that the
original intention of the Creator is not recognised, the rights God has
given to people will always be endangered.

Christians will always be concerned to promote the recognition of the
proper place of God in human society.

The ideals of Social Justice are difficult in practice if people do not
accept the teaching of Jesus:

       The duty of making oneself a neighbour to others and actively
       serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the
       disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be.

       This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from
       us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the
       forgiveness of offences. He extends the commandment of love,
       which is that of the New Law, to all enemies. [CCC 1932, 1933]

The Common Good
The ‘Common Good’ is the term used to refer to all the conditions
individuals, families and organisations need to achieve their fulfilment
more easily and fully.

The common good does not mean sacrificing the rights of individuals in
the interests of the majority. Rather, it means contributing to these rights
through the community. It means trying to build up the community’s
capacities to help individuals to develop as the Creator intends.

The Catholic Church teaches that the Common Good should be the
concern of every individual, society and social institution.

       By common good is to be understood ‘the sum total of social
       conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals,
       to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily’. The common
       good concerns the life of all. [CCC 1906]

In practice, the common good requires:
   respect for every individual
   the duty to be concerned for the well-being and the development of
    society itself
   the duty to contribute as best one can to the well-being and the
    development of society itself
   peace, or the stability and security needed for proper order.

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The Spirit of Service
Service is a Christian ideal it is a fundamental ideal Christians need to
foster in society. Otherwise there is a danger that the powerful,
governments and others will forget that the purpose God has in mind for
society is to promote the good of people, rather than the privileges of the

The spirit of service is shown in commitment to:
  respect for the rights of all to liberty and justice
  dedication to the good of all
  a simple life-style that protects against losing touch with the lives and
   needs of those being served
  preferential love for the poor and the least-valued in society.

People affect each other in ways that are good or evil. There is a moral
responsibility to do everything possible for the good of all. This is a
responsibility given by Jesus. The habit or practice of doing good to all is
called ‘the virtue of solidarity’.

       This, then, is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow
       distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far.

       On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to
       commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good
       of all and of each individual, because we are all really
       responsible for all. [Social Concerns 38 and 39]

Solidarity helps to see the ‘other’, whether a person, people or nation,
not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical
strength to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer
useful, but as a ‘neighbour’, a ‘helper’, to be made a sharer in the
banquet of life to which all are equally invited by God.

The virtue of solidarity is shown in three ways. By:
  recognising others as persons and doing what one can to help
  doing what one can to alleviate the effects of human sinfulness
  sharing spiritual resources with others.

Solidarity, therefore, is the very opposite attitude to that expressed by
Cain in the Book of Genesis, after he had murdered his brother,

       Am I my brother’s guardian? Abel [3:9]

Recognising others as persons
The virtue of solidarity calls people to recognise the needs of others in
different ways. For example, it calls [Social Concerns 39]:
   those who are more influential because of wealth to recognise that
    they have a greater share of the world’s resources and services, and
    to feel responsible for those who are weaker and are ready to share
   those who are weaker to do what they can for the common good,
    rather than be purely passive or destructive
   those in between, to respect the interests of others rather than to
    insist solely on their own particular interests

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    all to show willingness to support one another, especially when rights
     are not being provided for.

Those who accept human solidarity recognise the reality of human
sinfulness, shown in such realities as the absolute desire for profit and
the thirst for power ‘at any price’ [Social Concerns 37]. The effects of
sinfulness can be seen in social trends, businesses, institutions, political
and industrial structures, entertainment and the media to cite a few

Like Jesus, followers of Christ are called to do what they can to counter

        These attitudes and ‘structures of sin’ are only conquered —
        presupposing the help of divine grace — by a diametrically
        opposed attitude: a commitment to the good of one’s neighbour
        with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to ‘love oneself ’ for the
        sake of the others instead of exploiting them, and to ‘serve’
        instead of oppressing them for one’s own advantage. [Social
        Concerns 38]

Sharing spiritual resources with others
While the virtue of solidarity relates very much to people’s needs at the
physical and material levels, it relates also to spiritual and religious
needs. Spiritual malnutrition and disconnectedness with God lead to
many sufferings. Common examples in adults include:
  personal identity confusion
  confusion about personal direction in life
  inclinations to succumb to peer and social pressures
  values confusion
  feelings of guilt and low self esteem.

Christians remember always the words of Jesus.

        Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations;
        baptise them … and teach them to observe all the commands I
        gave you.
        [Matthew 28:19]

Catholics believe that through the virtue of solidarity, God requires those
who know and experience God to share their spiritual resources with all
who are willing to listen and to receive it. In Catholic experience, as
Christian faith is promoted, so is Social Justice.

        The virtue of solidarity goes beyond material goods. In spreading
        the spiritual goods of the faith, the Church has promoted, and
        often opened new paths for the development of temporal goods
        as well. [CCC 1942 and 1948]

Solidarity is a profound Christian virtue. It practices the sharing of
spiritual goods even more than material ones.

The proper participation of all in society
Participation means active involvement. In Catholic teaching, every
member of society has the right and the obligation to become involved in

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the affairs of society. The ways and degrees to which people can do so
will vary from one to another, depending upon ability and commitments.

       Participation is achieved first of all by taking charge of the areas
       for which one assumes personal responsibility: by the care taken
       for the education of the family, by conscientious work, and so
       forth, (individuals) participate in the good of others and society.
       [CCC 1914 and 1915]:

As far as possible, citizens should take an active part in public life. The
manner of this participation may vary from one country or culture to

The right to vote, to be consulted and heard, to work, to provide for and
educate one’s family, all flow from the right to participation.

Working for the Environment
People are entrusted by the Creator with the tasks of ‘God’s fellow-
workers’. This includes working with God for the development of the
environment, while taking from the earth’s resources what is necessary.
For Catholics, this means keeping in mind three values:
  respect for God’s creation
  stewardship of the earth’s resources
  the quality of the human environment.

Respect for God’s creation
Everything in creation has its purpose; and everything in creation relates
in some way to other created things. The Creator wills everything that
exists and continues to sustain its existence.

       One cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings,
       whether living or inanimate — animals, plants, the natural
       elements — simply as one wishes, according to one’s economic
       needs. [Social Concerns 34]

Stewardship of the earth’s resources
God is master of the universe. God uses the co-operation of creatures in
the continuing existence and support of creation.

       God grants creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity
       of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each
       other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of (God’s)
       plan. To human beings, God even gives the power of freely
       sharing in (God’s) providence by entrusting them with the
       responsibility of ‘subduing’ the earth and having dominion over it.
       [Social Concerns 34]

Human stewardship of the earth’s resources requires:
      recognition of the rights of every generation, including future
       generations, to their share of the resources of the earth
      restoration of resources used
      not exploiting resources in ways that will lead to others,
       including future generations, being deprived of what they need.

Human responsibility towards creation is presented in both Creation

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stories in the Book of Genesis. In the figurative language of the ancient
eastern literary genre of story, the meaning of this responsibility is
explained as being given by God to human beings before the Fall of
Adam and Eve. It is part of the original vision of humanity, the one Christ
came to restore and the one Christians are called to play their part in

True human relationship with creation does not permit selfish
exploitation, or any other behaviour contrary to God’s work today in the

The integrity of the earth’s resources must be respected if stewardship is
to be responsible.

       Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined
       for the common good of past, present and future humanity. Use
       of mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the universe
       cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. [CCC

Human dominion over the earth’s resources, therefore, is not absolute.
Rather, it is limited by the intention of the One who gave that dominion.

Followers of Christ seeking to transform the world, promote the principle
that the ways people use the earth’s resources are:

       limited by concern for the quality of life of (one’s) neighbour
       including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for
       the integrity of creation. [CCC 2415]

The Catholic Church teaches:

       Natural resources are limited; some are not, as it is said,
       renewable. Using them as if they were inexhaustible, with
       absolute dominion, seriously endangers their availability not only
       for the present generation, but above all for generations to come.
       [Social Concerns 34]

The quality of the human environment
 It is through Creation that God first related with people. From creation,
people have become aware of God, discovered insights into their
Creator by studying all that has been created, and realised their need to
relate with God.

In giving humanity dominion over creation, God intends experiences of
creation to be good, not harmful. The environment within which people
live becomes a moral issue.

People are entitled to the beauties of the environment as well as to the
health that it offers. They are entitled to a quality of environmental life.

This right needs to be respected, therefore, in planning and
development, especially in industry.

       We know that the direct or indirect result of industrialisation is,

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       ever more frequently, the pollution of the environment, with
       serious consequences of the health of the population. [Social
       Concerns 34]

Development of the earth has a moral dimension
Development is a complex process. It is not a simple matter of
economics or technology, but affects the lives of people. As a result, the
moral values related to the environment should be respected always.

       A true concept of development cannot ignore the use of the
       elements of nature, the renewability of resources and the
       consequences of haphazard industrialisation — three
       considerations which alert our consciences to the moral
       dimension of development. [Social Concerns 34]

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Key Understanding 2
People develop through relating with others

2.1 Through relating with each other people find happiness and
opportunity for personal development

The road to true relationships is not easy. Throughout life, people find
that some relationships grow while others fade. Some last longer than
others, and, when they end, some do so naturally, while others do so

The importance of true relationships helps people to understand
jealousy and why people keep testing each other.

Sometimes, until people learn to relate in mature ways, they fear
standing up to friends who want them to do wrong.

Another reality is that, as people grow older, they realise that they need
to respond more to parents and family members. People may come to
regret past tensions and stresses and wish they could change them.

Common relationship questions
People share common concerns and questions such as:
  how do I know if someone is a true friend?
  how far can I trust people?
  why does no one seem to understand me?
  why am I confused about friendships?
  why do people seem not to like me?
  when do I know if I am in love?
  how will I know whether someone truly loves me?
  how should I express affection?
  are sexual feelings a sign of a close relationship?
  what’s wrong with just ‘living together’?
  how will I cope with being married?
  can I handle the responsibilities of being a parent?

These and other questions reflect underlying concerns about:
  commitment and love in relationships
  human sexuality.

The call to relate with others comes from within
To relate with others is a basic human need. Unless this need is met,
people feel alone and incomplete. They cannot develop fully as human
individuals. Their personalities remain stunted.

Without others, people lack the many important opportunities that true
relationships provide to develop personal qualities, talents and skills. For
example, friends experiencing problems provide opportunities to develop
loyalty. Family members who are sick or depressed provide
opportunities to develop compassion and understanding.

People need to relate with each other. It is through these relationships
that they find happiness and opportunities for personal development.

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Relationships are based upon self-giving
Many make the mistake of thinking about their relationships in terms of
‘what I get out of it’. This way of thinking makes it difficult for people to
develop a commitment in a relationship.

Many who think this way find long-term commitments difficult.

A genuine and long-lasting relationship results as two people ‘give’ to
each other. As one person gives, the other feels gradually moved to
respond and a true relationship begins.

Self-giving requires an accurate self-image
To ‘give’ in friendship, people need to learn to develop an accurate self-
image. This makes them aware of their gifts and strengths.

In order to be self-giving, people need to be aware of what they have to
offer. Social trends today often encourage people to become more
aware of the ‘negative’ than the ‘positive’ when thinking about
themselves. As a result, many find relationships difficult because they
cannot see what they have in themselves that is worth giving.

People need to keep trying to develop an accurate self-image in order to
relate. While this will include acknowledging personal weaknesses, it will
also involve discovering and developing personal qualities, talents, skills
and other personal gifts.

True relationships require love that is other-centred
The strength of any relationship depends upon the kind of love upon
which it is based. There are different kinds of love:
  filial love, which is the love felt between family members
  altruistic love, which is the natural selfless concern people feel for
   others, especially when misfortune comes their way
  romantic love, which is when one feels close to another because of
   psychological or physical attraction
  sexual (and erotic) love, which is based upon sexual desires.

Love that is romantic or sexual is self-centred. It tends to weaken when
the attraction wanes. Both romantic and sexual love can be strong for a
time. Both can lead people to ‘fall in or out of love’ neither is strong
enough to sustain true and longer-term relationships.

A major problem with a love that is either sexual or romantic is that it can
destroy potentially true and long-lasting relationships. Unless disciplined,
it can take over a relationship and stunt the development of other
aspects that need to be developed.

Love that is filial or altruistic, on the other hand, is other-centred. It is
also deeper than the emotion of love. It is longer-lasting and more
reliable in terms of commitment. It leads to relationships of quality.

Many close friendships may begin at the romantic or sexual levels, but
then develop to altruistic love. Those involved have disciplined their
romantic and sexual feelings so that their potential for the deeper,
altruistic love has grown.

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Couples may find their love for each other grows to the extent that they
realise it is special and committed. So they decide to marry.

Unfortunately, it is also true that some couples marry or ‘live together’
when their love is simply romantic or sexual. They claim to ‘feel’ close.
As this love weakens, their relationship is less able to face the normal
stresses and challenges of life and the commitment a marriage
relationship requires. Many then break up or divorce.

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2.2 Committed love is essential for people to contribute to God’s
Committed love is concerned first for the good of the other person

In any relationship, regardless of how it starts, the love needed for it to
grow is committed love. The greater this commitment becomes, the
stronger the relationship develops.

The major characteristic of this love is commitment to the good of the
other person.

       ‘To love is to will the good of another.’ All other affections have
       their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the
       good. Only the good can be loved.’
        [CCC 1766]

The first example most people experience of committed love is the love
of their parents. When children are younger, this ‘parental love’ is
obviously other-centred. Parents care for and educate their young
children unconditionally.

True love can require also saying ‘no’ at times. People can often be
mistaken in what they think is good. To love, they have to do what they
believe to be the best thing in the end. Others may not appreciate their
decision at the time, but eventually they will come to realise the genuine
love that led to the decision.

True love requires moral understanding
If ‘love is to will the good of another’, people need to do what they can to
learn what is good or not good for others as people. This leads them to
search for the principles that identify good and evil. These are the
principles of morality.

What is truly good for another, no matter who they are, will always be
morally right.

True love requires making choices rather than following feelings
True love can lead to conflict, such as choosing between personal
interests and the interests of others. It can lead also to conflicts between
what others want and what would be good for them; between pleasing
them by doing wrong or risking upsetting them by doing what is right.

True love requires people to make real choices. Emotions alone cannot
be relied upon in times of conflict. Emotions, unless understood and
directed properly, can cause confusion and weaken resolve.

In times of conflict, moral principles are always important. They can warn
people when emotions are misleading thoughts. They help people to
identify what is for the good of another and to avoid emotions that tend
to dominate.

True love never requires people to do what they know to be wrong.

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True relationships respect conscience
It is important to remember that people who are truly concerned for the
good will never pressure others into violating their conscience, or to do
what is wrong. This is one way of evaluating the real strength of a
relationship. Those who truly love will never try to:
         pressure people to do what they sincerely believe to be wrong
         trick people into violating sincerely held moral beliefs
         manipulate emotionally to disobey God’s laws.

Even if they believe what they want to be right, those who truly love
others will always respect their conscience.

When thinking about their relationships, people need to identify first the
kind of love that each is based upon. Otherwise they may make
mistakes when evaluating their relationships or when trying to work out
how to develop them further. Relationships they thought would be long-
term may prove not to be the case.

Commitment for true relationships needs to be developed
True love requires commitment. If true love were simply an emotion,
people would be unable to remain faithful and loyal, or to forgive when
they are irritated.

Different relationships teach that there are different levels of commitment
and love. For example people feel closer to some friends than to others.
The commitment required for marriage and parent-child relationships is
deeper than friendships.

A relationship deepens when commitment increases
Committed love is a gift from one person to another. For example,
parents, exhausted after several nights of broken sleep, may feel no joy
at all to be woken again in the middle of the night by their crying child.
Yet their child is too young to respond in return, so their love is their gift
to their child. It does not depend upon the child’s response.

The relationship between parent and child is deeper than feelings,
though feelings are affected by it.

Genuine relationships may require, at times, forgiveness, mercy, loyalty
and compassion. People who have not learnt how to give forgiveness,
loyalty, compassion or mercy have not yet learnt to love to the extent
needed for genuine relationships. They have failed to achieve the kind of
selflessness needed to free them to love others.

Committed love does not depend solely upon a response or return.
Committed love in any relationship is always a gift. It is given freely and
seeks no reward. As it deepens, so does a relationship.

Commitment requires personal development
Committed love is always ‘personal’, it involves the whole person and
not just the emotions. It demands personal commitment and makes
demands on many levels; physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual.

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To develop committed love, people need to learn to respond to others’
needs. They need to learn to avoid expressing emotions in ways that are
not for the good of others, including ways that are not morally good.

The human body
The human body is the ‘language’ of the human person. It expresses in
verbal and non-verbal ways care, forgiveness and loyalty.

Love comes from the ‘heart’, it needs to be expressed in different ways.
Through signs of affection, though the ways it is appropriate will differ
according to the relationship. People express affection differently
towards parents and family members than they do to friends.

Committed love requires that people learn to discipline their bodies so
that they express love rather than selfishness, and goodness rather than

For real commitment, people need to understand others. They cannot be
loyal, forgiving or caring of others without understanding their needs and
how they are feeling.

People need to know and understand themselves and feel confident
about their capacity to respond to others.

Commitment requires an understanding of moral values. Otherwise
people will not be able to work out what would and what would not be
‘good’. Morally wrong actions can never be consistent with true love. No
matter how ‘close’ they feel, people who consistently do what is wrong
commonly find that their relationship eventually breaks down.

Committed love, therefore, requires that people develop an
understanding of others and of themselves, as well as of what is and
what is not good.

Emotional maturity
To develop committed love, people need to understand and to direct
their emotions.

To the extent that people do not direct their emotions, their ability to
develop committed love is weakened. Instead, some emotions, such as
desire, may take over. They can lead people to behave in ways that are
not consistent with truly ‘personal’ love. Relationships can become
totally dependent upon how people ‘feel’.

Since committed love needs to be truly ‘personal’, it requires the
involvement of the whole person. This means, then, that emotional
maturity is essential if a person is going to be able to love others in
committed ways.

Inner spiritual strength
To develop commitment, people need to develop inner spiritual strength
as well as other spiritual gifts such as selflessness, ideals, self-
awareness and inner peace.

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Some people can seem to be endlessly demanding. True love is difficult
when others do not seem to respond.

Forgiveness, understanding, compassion, politeness to people and
loyalty to those whom others reject, can all be difficult to give without
inner spiritual strength.

True relationships require healthy sexuality
For true and long lasting relationships, people need to see others as well
as themselves as people. This means seeing others as individuals with
their own ideals, hopes, qualities and personal needs.

It also means recognising and respecting each other’s sexuality, their
femaleness or maleness. Whether people are male or female affects
them at every level. It affects how they think, feel, react and respond to

Sexuality affects how people love and relate. It also gives people the
capacity to conceive children as well as to relate with them as parents.

        Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of
        his (or her) body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the
        capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the
        aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

        A healthy sexuality, therefore, is people, as males or females,
        being able to express their thoughts, feelings and other personal
        gifts in ways that are good. [CCC 2332]

Sexuality different from sex
Many today confuse sexuality with sex. Sexuality is much more
significant then ‘sex’, for it affects every moment of an individual’s life.

It is sexuality that affects physiological development into adulthood. As it
does so, people become capable of expressing married love and of
conceiving new human life.

The desire to integrate sexual feelings
With maturity grows the desire for inner harmony and peace. As a result
people do not want their emotions to take away their capacity to think in
situations. They want their behaviour increasingly to be consistent with
their values and personal ideals. They want to make choices that reflect
greater inner personal freedom.

The desire for inner harmony and peace leads people to want their
sexual feelings to function in ways that are consistent with the rest of
their human gifts, their ideals, their values and their knowledge of right
and wrong. They do not want their sexual feelings to dominate or to
conflict with these gifts.

People do not want their sexual feelings to lead them to behave in ways
they know to be wrong. If they find this happening, they want to change,
even though they may not really know how to do so.

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The yearning for inner freedom
People yearn for inner freedom so that they can always make choices.
They like the inner freedom to be able to think before speaking or acting,
and to avoid succumbing to blind instinct.

It is normal for people to want freedom from the power of undirected
sexual feelings. They also want to break sexual habits that may have

A healthy sexuality
For a healthy sexuality, as well as for real and long-term relationships,
people need to be able to control their sexual feelings.

Typical issues that can lead to strong sexual feelings unless they are
faced up to or accepted include:
   family tensions
   parents separating
   grief at the death of a family member
   relationship upsets
   loneliness
   built-up but unrecognised emotions
   fear of failure, especially in the eyes of others
   study difficulties
   times of special stress, such as major exams, or relief after the stress
    has gone
   anxieties about the future
   coping with step parents and families.

For many strong sexual feelings and temptations can be symptoms of
deeper tensions.

Gratifying such temptations, instead of working out their causes, can
lead to the development of ingrained sexual habits and behavioural
patterns. In the long run, these hamper the development of true and
long-lasting relationships. They can make it harder for people to
progress to the deeper levels of love needed for commitment.

Strong sexual feelings can lead people into relationships built upon
sexual or erotic love. They can lead people also to seek gratification in
other ways, such as sexually explicit movies, literature, magazines and
posters. In turn, this can lead some people to treat others only in abusive
and morally wrong ways.

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2.3 Charity empowers the Christian mission

Christians are called to a special kind of love called charity
When creating human nature, God originally intended people to ‘live
together’ in love and harmony. God’s plan was that there would be
peace on earth at all levels, amongst family and friends, the local,
national and international communities. Both Creation Stories in the
Book of Genesis present this feeling of peace and harmony.

When people turned from God, they sinned [Genesis 3]. Then, in the
Story of Abel and Cain, brother turned against brother [Genesis 4].
Tension developed between Adam and Eve, he blaming her for his sin
[Genesis 3:12].

Through the Creation Stories, God is teaching that, as long as they
relate with God, people will live in harmony with each other. God is the
source of harmony and peace on earth. On the other hand, if people do
not relate with God, they drift from the source of human harmony and
peace. Violence, tension, jealousy and the other evils commonly seen in
human society grow.

There are many examples of people not relating as God originally
intended. There is war between nations, racism, injustice and
discrimination at all levels of society. There are also tensions between
families, friends and within nations.

The media provides many examples of ways that human society is far
from what God originally planned. All point to the human consequences
that result when people cut themselves off from God. As a result, Jesus
came and offered humanity a special gift called charity.

Charity is received through Baptism. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit and
empowers those who develop it in two ways:
  they can love God for God’s own sake
  they can love others for God’s sake.

If every human person loved others, there would be no tensions in the

Loving God for God’s sake
Being able to love God for God’s own sake strengthens a person’s
relationship with God. Selfishness and self-interest lessen.

In giving people charity, God is giving people the capacity to develop
closer relationships with their Creator. As their relationships with God
develop, God influences them to love others as God does; that is, with
commitment and goodness.

Loving others for God’s sake
Tensions exist in human society because of many human weaknesses.
Ultimately, their source lies in the hearts of the people who make up

A major problem lies in the inability to see others as people. Instead,
they focus upon externals such as skin colour, disfigurement, age and

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gender characteristics. This leads to problems such as racism,
discrimination and ageism.

The ability to love others for God’s sake means that people are able to
love unconditionally. Those who develop charity can rise above personal
hurts and resentments to forgive, to be kind and to show genuine care.

The capacity to love others for God’s sake grows with love for God.

Christians need to reclaim ‘charity’
People associate giving money to needy causes, never making negative
comments about others and having pity on others less fortunate with
charity. For some, charity means giving so that others will think well of
the donor, while the donor really is quite indifferent and insensitive to the

The word ‘charity’ is so fundamental to Christian love, its Christian
meaning needs to be understood.

Charity is a gift given by the Holy Spirit who dwells within the human
heart through Baptism. This gift needs to be developed so that it
becomes a virtue or a habitual way of behaving towards God and other

As a gift of God, charity is called a ‘theological’ virtue:

        Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all
        things for (God’s) own sake, and our neighbour as ourselves for
        the love of God.

        Any effort to love that does not imitate God’s love is not charity.
        God’s love is never distant, indifferent, cold or less than
        completely generous. [CCC 1822]

Jesus modelled charity at the Last Supper
The origin charity is Jesus himself. Perhaps the best explanation is
found in the Gospel of John in the story of the Last Supper.

The background to the story was the intention of Jesus to teach his
followers ‘what the Father has told me’ [John 12:50]. His actions,
therefore, were an example of loving God. It was for love of his Father
that he performed the lowly service of washing his disciples’ feet.

In those days, a servant would wash the feet of a dinner guest, and a
disciple the feet of a master. The idea of a master washing the feet of his
disciples was quite a shock in the culture of the time. In John’s Gospel
Peter responds:

        ‘Never!’ said Peter, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ [John 13:8]

The Gospel writer was also struck by this action of Jesus. Most people
under threat of death do not think about serving others, and so the
Gospel writer records:

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       Jesus, knowing that his hour had come to pass from this world to
       the Father, having loved those who were his in the world, loved
       them to the end. [John 13:1]

Having shown the humility and the need to consider others before
oneself, Jesus then told his followers that is how they should love one

       You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the
       Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each
       other’s feet.

       I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have
       done to you.

       I give you a new commandment: love (caris) one another; you
       must love one another just as I have loved you.

       It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognise
       you as my disciples.
       [John 13:13-15, 34-35]

Jesus is:
  showing his love for God, his Father, by behaving as his Father
  calling his disciples to respond by loving others.

       By loving his own ‘to the end’, (Jesus) makes manifest the
       Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the
       disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves
       receive. [CCC 1823]

The most central understandings of Christian charity are of loving God
and loving others in ways which imitate the ways that Jesus loves.

Charity brings freedom to relationships
Most people can see their human relationships with others are
hampered by such weaknesses as selfishness, resentments and
jealousy. Christians recognise that such weaknesses go hand in hand
with distance from God.

The more responsive people are to God, the more they experience God
strengthening their inner potential for goodness and love. However, the
opposite is also true.

Charity, the special kind of love received from God through Baptism, can
free people from such weaknesses. Baptised people find this to be true
to the extent that they:
   relate with God as Jesus taught
   keep on trying to love others as Jesus taught.

Charity also frees believers to live the kinds of quality relationships the
Commandments are meant to protect within their families, among their
friends and in the wider community. As charity grows, they are freed

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from the indifference to God that leads people to break the first three
Commandments and that stops them relating with God for God’s sake.

They are freed also from difficulties that often stop people from loving
others. For example, they are freed from:
   the resentments, arguments and upsets that lead people to treat
    parents and family members badly (the Fourth Commandment);
   the anger and hatred that can lead people to assault and even to kill
    others (the Fifth Commandment);
   the sexual desires that can lead to adultery, pre-marital sex and the
    various forms of sexual exploitation in thought and deed (the Sixth
    and Ninth Commandments);
   the material values and jealousies that can lead to theft,
    embezzlement and to plotting to steal what belongs to others (the
    Seventh and Tenth Commandments);
   the jealousies, ambitions and feelings of inadequacy that can lead
    people to damage the reputations of others through gossip, saying
    what is untrue or revealing their faults to others who are not entitled
    to know (the Eight Commandment).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church highlights the link between charity
and freedom to keep the Commandments. It points to the ability to keep
the Commandments as a sign of developing charity.

       charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: ‘Abide
       in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my
       love.’ [CCC 1824]

Charity empowers love for those who are disliked
Perhaps the greatest difference between charity and ordinary human
love is to be seen in what charity makes possible, namely, love of those
who are disliked.

The greatest challenge to love that charity can help overcome is the
ability to forgive. Without charity, many may be unable to forgive their
parents, members of their families and friends who may have hurt them.
Charity empowers people to seek the forgiveness of others when they
know they have offended or hurt them.

Jesus calls on his followers to love in the ways charity makes possible.
In his words as presented in the Gospels:

       But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who
       persecute you; so that you may be children of your Father in
       heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the
       good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked

       But I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do
       good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for
       those who treat you badly.

       To anyone who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek
       as well; to anyone who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse
       your tunic.

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       Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property
       back from someone who takes it. Treat others as you would like
       people to treat you.
       [Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-30]

Many feel that it is too difficult to love those who have hurt them or their
enemies. This may remain true while their only resource is human love.

For the Christian who responds to Christ, the Holy Spirit strengthens
their human love. As a result, it becomes possible for them to love in the
ways Jesus described:

       If you love those who love you, what credit can you expect? Even
       sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those
       who do good to you, what credit can you expect? For even
       sinners do that much.

       And if you lend to those from whom you hope to get money back,
       what credit can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get
       back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good
       to them, and lend without any hope of return. [Luke 6:32-35]:

Charity seeks out those in need
Jesus showed a special concern for people in need. He even identified
himself with those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, lacking clothing,
sick or in prison:

       ‘in so far as you did this (responded to their needs) to one of the
       least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’

       ‘in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these,
       you neglected to do it to me.’ [Matthew 25:40, 45]

There are many examples of saints and other Christian heroes who
have shown concern for those in need to extraordinary degrees —
Blessed Mary Mackillop, St Vincent de Paul, Caroline Chisholm and
Mother Theresa being important examples.

The Church should reflect the concern of Jesus
As well as caring for them himself in his lifetime, Jesus handed on to his
Church the special mission of responding to those in need.

So, in Catholic teaching:

       (The Church) claims charitable works as its own mission and
       right. That is why mercy to the poor and the sick, and charitable
       works and works of mutual aid for the alleviation of all kinds of
       human needs, are held in special honour in the Church.

       Today these activities and works of charity have become much
       more urgent and worldwide, now that means of communication
       are more rapid, distance between (people) has been more or
       less conquered, people in every part of the globe have become

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       as members of a single family. Charitable action today can and
       should reach all (people) and all needs.

        (people) are to be found who are in want of food and drink, of
       clothing, housing, medicine, work, education, the means
       necessary for leading a truly human life, wherever there are
       (people) racked by misfortune or illness, (people) suffering exile
       or imprisonment, Christian charity should go in search of them
       and find them out... . (It should) comfort them with devoted care
       and give them the helps that will relieve their needs. [Apostolate
       of Lay People 8]

The Church expresses the special kind of love that is called charity in
many ways.

Charity empowers the Christian vision of family
Modern society includes people of many different beliefs and values. As
a result, there are many different ideas about relationships and families.

Throughout human history, there have been different ideas on these
matters. In the time of Christ, for example, there were many differences
across the Roman Empire. Like society today, there were families of
parents and children living together in the same house, single-parent
families, de facto relationships, people with more than one spouse and
many other variations.

God reveals the gift of the family
God loves every human being and, as Creator, understands best the
needs of each. God knows what people need, for example, to develop:
       • a sense of self-worth
       • emotional maturity
       • inner strength
       • an awareness of personal gifts
       • personal identity
       • an awareness of vocation
       • a sense of personal direction in life.

Among the most basic human needs is stability in relationships. To
provide this stability, God created the family. Since God’s intention for
the family was not understood clearly from the earliest times, God
revealed it first to the people of Israel.

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This chapter presents the following key understanding and
learning points

Key Understanding 3
All Christians are called by Christ to share in his mission

3.1 Christians share in the work of Jesus in three basic vocations

3.2 Christians live out their vocation through different lifestyles

3.3 Each Christian vocation shares in the work of Christ in
distinctive ways

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Key Understanding 3
All Christians are called by Christ to share in his mission

3.1 Christians share in the work of Jesus in three basic vocations
The end of school is a time that naturally causes people to think about
the future. They think about work, study, employment and how to make
a difference in the world.

It is a time when important life-decisions are being taken, no matter how
gradually. Even the choice to do nothing affects future options.

Such decisions are important for many reasons. They include the reality
   they affect future long-term happiness
   they affect future life commitments.

Those who follow the vocations God intends for them, and who work
within these, find personal gifts gradually developing and personal
potential being fulfilled.

Christ calls believers to different vocations
For nearly two thousand years, Christians have known that Christ calls
believers to share in his work of transforming human nature in
thousands of different ways [Church Constitution 32]:

        By divine institution holy Church is ordered and governed with a
        wonderful diversity. ‘For just as in one body we have many
        members, yet all the members have not the same function, so we
        though many, are one in Christ, but severally members one of
        another’ (Romans 12:4-5).

Though there is diversity in the ways Christ calls Christians to share in
his work, they can be grouped within three broad headings:

    the lay vocation to the world
    the vocation of priesthood within the Church
    the vocation of consecrated religious in the Church.

No Christian vocation fully reflects Christ. The three different broad
callings complement each other. None is ‘better’ or more important than
the other, for all are needed to contribute in different ways.

The lay vocation to the world
To accomplish his work in every generation and culture, Christ has to be
able to reach people wherever they live, work, recreate, discuss, trade,
negotiate or engage in any other activity that forms part of the rhythm of
society. He seeks to do so through the ‘majority’ vocation in the Church,
that of the lay person

        … by reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to
        seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and
        directing them according to God’s will.                  [Church
        Constitution 31]

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They live in the world, that is, they are engaged in each and every work
and business of the world and in the ordinary circumstances of social
and family life.

They are called by God and led by the spirit to the Gospel, to contribute
to the development of the world.

In the Church lay-people or the ‘laity’ are all those not in Holy Orders or
those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church’ [Church
Constitution 31].

Lay people are called to contribute to the life and mission of the Church
community by taking on roles within its worship: readers, acolytes,
governance (parish pastoral council, finance committee; and various
ministries: to youth, the sick, those with special needs.

Living as a Christian in the world is never easy. Often there are social
pressures and trends that conflict with the teachings of Christ. There are
many examples in the world today, many of which conflict with the
Christian’s call to contribute to the development of individuals, society
and the environment.

Examples include trends against:

        the development of individuals
             — abortion, euthanasia
             — drugs
             — sexual and other forms of exploitation

        social development
            — pressures against family life
            — pressures on marriages
            — social injustices

        environmental development
           —    greed
           —     exploitation of the earth’s resources.

The Priesthood
The Catholic Church is present in every human culture. How its pastoral
ministries are carried out varies according to the needs and daily life
situations that arise in different cultures.

One of the more radical ministries in the Church to which some are
called is that of priesthood.

Some men are called by God to serve within the Church as priests. Like
all gifts from God, this calling needs to be developed.

Christ knew his followers would need inner spiritual strength. So he gave
his Apostles special spiritual powers so that they could serve as his
instruments for this purpose.

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These powers have been handed down the generations, along with the
mission of the Apostles, through the sacrament of Holy Orders

        the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to
        his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end
        of time: this is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. [Catechism

The first step
The first step towards priesthood is the discovery of whether or not the
call is from God. Normally, this involves a period of systematic reflection
and preparation by both the Church and the individual concerned.

The individual also undertakes professional and pastoral courses of
study. This occurs in a ‘seminary’. Within the seminary, the Church and
the individual ensure that the aspirant:
   has average health and intelligence
   is trying to live a normal Christian life
   truly feels called by God to serve as a priest.

Candidates normally do not have to be especially ‘holy’. For example,
one famous saint, St Augustine, lived an immoral life-style, changing
only in his thirties. He then went on to become one of the most
significant priests and bishops in the Church’s history.

From the time of the Gospels, Jesus has not called ‘perfect’ people as
Apostles or priests. The first Twelve are good examples.

No one can receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, until both the Church
and the individual agree that he has a calling from God. Neither an
individual nor the Church has the right to receive or confer priesthood
without the calling from God.

Consecrated religious
Jesus calls some to live in special spiritual relationships with him and
each another. These are referred to as ‘Religious’, and commonly called
Brothers and Sisters unless they are bishops, priests or deacons.

Like priesthood, religious life is a radical Christian vocation. Commonly,
people first feel called to it through:
   a desire to commit themselves radically to a particular area of
    apostolic work
   a desire to share in a special spiritual relationship with others who
    share their radical commitment.

To discern if one is being called by Christ to follow him in this way, it is
important to discover whether he or she:
   feels moved to respond to particular human needs
   has a sense of calling to make a radical life-long commitment in
    order to serve these needs
   senses a need for spiritual support from others who also have this

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Contact needs to be made with the relevant religious institute for further
assistance in discovering whether or not there is a calling from Christ to
the consecrated religious life.

Most religious are called to serve in various apostolates
Most religious are called to join what are called ‘congregations’ or
‘religious institutes’. These have been founded to meet particular
spiritual and other needs of people in the manner established by the

The different ways they work are called ‘apostolates’. These range from
care of the sick and others in need, to education and missions.

In Western Australia, they include:
   various works among Aboriginal people (for example, Pallottine
    Fathers, Christian Brothers, Presentation Sisters, St John of God
   schools (for example, Sisters of Mercy, Josephite and Presentation
    Sisters, Marist Brothers, Oblate Fathers, Norbertine Canons)
   medical care (for example, Camillians, St John of God Sisters, Little
    Sisters of the Poor, Daughters of Charity)
   services to migrants (for example, Scalabrinian Fathers, Sisters of St
    Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Salvatorian Fathers, Sisters of Our Lady
    of the Missions)
   outreach to those in society with special needs (for example, Little
    Sisters of the Poor — aged poor, Good Shepherd Sisters — family
    and community support, Daughters of Charity — emergency
    accommodation for women and children, Marist Brothers — summer
    camps for disadvantaged children, Christian Brothers — legal
    advocacy service for youth)
   tertiary students (for example, Jesuit Fathers, Redemptorist Fathers,
    Oblate Fathers)
   people with disabilities (for example, Sisters of Mercy, Servite
    Sisters, Brigidine Sisters)
   adult education (for example, Carmelite Brothers, Servite Sisters,
    Jesuit Fathers, Marist Brothers)
   parish life (for example, Schoenstatt Sisters, Our Lady of the
    Cenacle Sisters, Blessed Sacrament Fathers)
   chaplaincy and pastoral work (for example, Franciscan Fathers,
    Redemptorist Fathers, Dominican Sisters, Sisters of St Joseph of the
    Sacred Heart).

The transforming power of Christ
One purpose of religious life is to serve the Church by keeping before all
what the power of Christ makes possible in people’s lives.

The ultimate explanation for the life of a Sister or Brother is the
transforming power of Christ. This is what is meant when religious are
said to take their vows ‘for the sake of or to show the power of Christ’s
kingdom’ [cf. Matthew 19:11-12].

As religious experience Christ in the distinctive ways that come from
trying to live the ideals of their callings, they are able to share the
particular insights that come from their experience with others.
Accordingly, religious can assist people within and outside the Church

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by encouraging them to seek the power of Christ for the difficulties they
experience in their own daily lives.

Religious orders tend to invite others also to participate in their particular
apostolates within the Church’s work, even though they have not been
called to live the religious life. In this way, some of the gifts the religious
order were instituted to offer continue to be spread more broadly for the
service of society through the Church.

The calling of prayer
Some religious are called to keep before the Church the human need to
relate intimately with God through prayer, as well as the power of prayer.
Their life-style is one devoted to prayer and reflection in the seclusion of
a monastery. In Western Australia, the Carmelite Sisters are an
example. There are Carmelite Sisters in Nedlands and Dardanup.

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3.2 Christians live out their vocation through different lifestyles
Every Christian is called to share in the work of Jesus [2.1]. The way
each is called to do so will involve a Christian life-style.

People adopt many different life-styles. Some lead to fulfilment and
happiness, while others do not.

Christian life-styles relate to the vocations in which people are called to
contribute to the work of Christ. Each leads to fulfilment and happiness
for two reasons:
   it relates to the work God has created us to perform;
   it provides the best opportunities for us to use and develop our
    talents, skills and other personal gifts.

Most people are called to more than one Christian life-style over the
entire period of their lives. There are five basic Christian life-styles:
  the single life-style
  priesthood
  religious life
  marriage
  parenthood.

Callings to Christian life-styles happen in different ways
Callings to the different Christian life-styles happen in different ways. For
some the realisation may come with a developing sense of commitment
to a religious calling, human need or profession. For others, their
realisation may come only later in life.

Some who have not married realise that they have not lost marriage
opportunities but, rather, there has been a consistent pattern of life
situations calling for responses that meant working with others in ways
not possible through marriage.

Some Christian callings require a longer-term commitment than others.

People need to study the different Christian life-styles, not simply in an
academic way, but from the perspective of the question: ‘to which
Christian lifestyle might I be called?’

Some may be called to work with Christ as single people
Some people may find themselves called to share in Christ’s work in
human society through the single life-style for their whole lives. They
may find themselves called to become priests, vowed religious or to
remain unmarried to work with Christ in particular ways.

They may be called to give the whole or part of their lives to individuals
or family members who are ill, disabled, elderly, or suffering some
particular need. Then again, some called to the single life-style may find
themselves motivated to:
   make their professions or skills available to groups in society, or in
    other countries, in ways not possible for people with marriage and
    family commitments: the poor, young people, those deprived in some

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    commit themselves to service organisations in special ways
     (including at parish level)
    serve society in special ways through Church organisations
    play service roles (including healing and mediation roles) within their

These broad examples cover a wide range of specific possibilities.
People need to be open to what God may be calling them to do in their
lives. Many current social attitudes related to marriage expectations and
human sexuality can make this difficult.

Single life-style: a call to a radical form of Christian love
Those whose vocations to work with Christ require them to live the
single life-style are called also to offer love of a special kind. This love is
a gift of the Spirit. It is given to enable those called to these vocations to
mirror the love and life-style of Jesus. Its focus is the wider human

Sometimes called ‘celibate love’, the focus of this love is the love of all
people. Its purpose is to motivate those who have this gift to be available
to serve all in the manner of Jesus, striving to respond to needs,
especially spiritual needs and the needs of the poor and the sick.

Those called to love in this life-style are called to do so, as Jesus
described it, ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven’ [Matthew 19:12].
True celibate love moves those gifted with it to respond to others in ways
that would lead into conflict, and even neglect, of the responsibilities of
married and parental life and love.

Celibate love requires a freedom that married and parental love does not
allow: to give others time, to move, to live on limited income. Celibate
love poses the same challenges as any other human love. It is not a
denial of marriage so much as a distinctive love that rules out marriage.

Priests called to serve their parishes
Those called to priesthood by Christ are called to serve their lay brothers
and sisters in five basic ways.

They [Ministry of Priests 4 to 9]:
  proclaim the Gospel by preaching, teaching, explaining or presenting
   contemporary problems in the light of Christ’s teaching
  serve as ministers of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist,
   Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick
  help to build up the community of the Church by gathering members
   together, especially in parishes
  assist members with the discovery and deepening of understanding
   of their vocations
  encourage other Church members to accept roles within the Church,
   especially within parish life try to bring about agreement when there
   is conflict within the Church community.

In several cultures across the world, the Church normally ordains as
priests only men who recognise that they have been called by Christ to
remain unmarried ‘for the sake of the kingdom’ [Matthew 19:12]. The

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ways they need to exercise their ministry would conflict with the
responsibilities of marriage and parenthood

        All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception
        of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of
        faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate ‘for
        the sake of the kingdom of heaven.’ [CCC 1579]

Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to
‘the affairs of the Lord’, they give themselves entirely and joyously to
God and to others.

In some cultures the role of priest does not require the same kind of
ministry and availability. Consequently, in some of these cultures, the
Church ordains married as well as unmarried men, for example, the
Ukrainian and some Catholic Eastern Rites

        In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force
        for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among
        celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests.
        This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests
        exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. [CCC 1580]

In the Eastern Churches many priests have freely chosen celibacy for
the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who
has received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry.

The Church came to the decision over many centuries that priests
needed to remain free to reflect God through unmarried love. This
decision was made for a range of theological and pastoral reasons.

Religious are called to live the chastity, poverty and obedience of
Those called to live as consecrated religious by Christ are given the
spiritual gifts needed to:
  live unmarried chastity in community
  accept Jesus’ call to own nothing
  give up their rights to make final decisions about their futures: such
    as where they will work.

They take vows to God and each other to live in these ways. These are
the vows of consecrated chastity, poverty and obedience.

Essential gifts for religious life
Religious life would be difficult for anyone not called to it. They would not
have the special spiritual gifts from God that are needed to live it.
However, those who have been called to this life-style still face ordinary
human problems like everyone else.

The call to work with Christ in the single life-style, like all states of life,
including marriage, will involve periods of loneliness. As with marriage,
God gives the gifts needed to develop personally through such times of

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Many will be called through marriage
Marriage is a special life-long loving relationship between a man and a
woman. Couples marry as they pledge life-long commitment to each
other, promising to strive towards an ever-deepening union of love. If
both are baptised, God consecrates their love in the Sacrament of

The communion of love that is marriage develops as married couples
keep working upon their relationship. They do so by striving to respond
to each other’s needs, each trying to put the other first. Marriage calls to
frequent forgiving, sharing, understanding and commitment. In these
ways, wives and husbands engage in the work God has planned for
them. Each contributes to the development of the other, then to that of
their children and to their entire family life.

Many will be called by God to marriage. But to respond to this call fully,
they need to see the wedding day as only the beginning of a loving,
creative relationship which they must seek to deepen for the rest of their
married lives.

Many will be called to work as parents
If it is to be a complete expression of creative love between husband
and wife, sexual intercourse will always be open to the conception of
children. And once conceived, a child has many needs that require
further creative love from the couple as parents. Parents serve as God’s
fellow workers in the development of their children. It is through the
many activities this involves that children, ideally, will come first to sense
at least subconsciously God’s love for them as individuals.

Not all married people have children. This in no way reflects upon the
quality of their marriage or their contribution to their marriage union. The
creative dimension of the love that grows in the relationship of married
couples who have no children can be expressed in other forms of care
and service, especially in the wider community.

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3.3 Each Christian vocation shares in the work of Christ in
distinctive ways

There are many conclusions to be drawn from Jesus forming his
followers into the new People of God. One is that they are called to
study his life to understand better what living as God calls means, and to
imitate him.

All Christians are called to share in the mission of Jesus
When Christians think about their lives, they think of such matters as
their daily activities, studies, careers, family life, friendships, political and
industrial life, employment and unemployment. As they remember that
they are to imitate his life, they remember that their basic calling is to
continue the mission of Jesus, leading the human race to God. They
remember his words:

        As the Father sent me so am I sending you. Go out to the whole
        world; proclaim the gospel to all creation. [John 20:21; Mark

This is the common thread in the activities of Christian mission, be they
as lay person, priest or religious — or be they in the family, the local
community, a career or any other sphere.

What Christians understand by ‘continuing the mission of Jesus’
depends upon their understanding of the life and work of Jesus.
Commonly, different people are attracted to different aspects.

Some are attracted to Jesus’ response to the weak, the sick, the
disabled and those who are suffering. Others are attracted more to his
inspiring teachings about God and God’s love. Others again are moved
to become involved in social issues, and others again to prayer and

The mission of Jesus was to transform humanity so that people could
relate with God and behave in the kinds of ways originally intended by
the Creator of human nature.

Sharing in three roles of Jesus
To live like Jesus means sharing in all aspects of his mission — not
simply some to the neglect of others. Remembering this, his followers
study his life to understand his mission better. And study of his life leads
people to recognise that he fulfilled three essential roles in his mission in

The first of these roles comprised activities that drew his followers’
attention to their need to worship God. Jesus:
   worshipped God the Father, worshipping publicly in the Temple
    [Mark 11:11] and synagogues [Matthew 12:9]
   prayed to his Father alone [Luke 5:16]
   offered his life to God the Father, saying even when breathing his
    last breath: ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ [Luke 23:46].

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The second of these roles, those related to teaching people about God,
God’s love, and how God calls all to live so that they can relate closely
with God. Jesus ‘proclaimed the kingdom of his Father by the testimony
of his life and by the power of his words’ [Church Constitution 34].
Indeed, the first teaching of Jesus in a Gospel were:

       The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is close at hand.
       Repent, and believe the Gospel. [Mark 1:15]

Promoting God’s kingdom
The third of the roles of Jesus comprised activities related to promoting
God’s kingdom. This he fulfilled by conquering the influence of evil over
human society. Jesus:
  fought the power of the Devil in the world, resisting temptations
   [Matthew 4:1-11] and casting out devils from those who were
   possessed [e.g. Mark 1:23-26]
  sought to restore the values God originally intended to be reflected in
   human society, especially those of love and justice.

To those who lived with, heard and observed Jesus, each of these
activities had special meaning. They were, after all, Jews, and aware of
their Old Testament past.

To them:
  worshipping God was the role of priests (such as the priests in the
   Temple in Jerusalem)
  proclaiming or teaching officially God’s message was the role of
   prophets (such as Elijah and Jeremiah)
  promoting God’s power over evil in the world was the role of kings
   (such as David and Solomon).

The early Christians realised that Jesus engaged in the activities of
priest, prophet and king intentionally. Being called to share in his
mission, they realised that they should imitate Jesus in each of these
activities. Their mission also should reflect that of Jesus in these

This is celebrated at every Baptismal ceremony when the adult or child
is anointed with chrism. The celebrant says:

       As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live
       always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life. [Rite of

Sharing in the mission of Jesus as priest
The early Christians knew Jesus as the One who had risen from the
dead. He would never die again. They realised, therefore, that the work
he began as priest would continue forever.

       (Jesus), because he remains forever, has a perpetual priesthood.
       It follows, then, that his power to save those who come to God
       through him is absolute, since he lives forever to intercede for

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       Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest
       … the high priest we have is not incapable of feeling our
       weaknesses with us, but has been put to the test in exactly the
       same way as ourselves, apart from sin. [Hebrews 7:24; 4:14-15]

Down through the centuries, the belief that his followers live as God calls
whenever they share in the activities of Christ as priest has continued to
the present day. They do so as, like him, they:
 worship God with others
 pray alone
 offer their lives to God.

The Eucharist
The most important way they share in this activity of Christ is through the
Eucharist. Here they join with him in his prayer to God the Father,
offering their lives as he did. The Catholic teaches that, this offering

       all their works, prayers, apostolic undertakings, family and
       married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are
       accomplished in the Spirit — indeed, even the hardships of life
       patiently borne — all these become spiritual sacrifices
       acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [Church Constitution 37]

What activities from family life, friendship, school and wider community
involvement can believers offer God, sharing in the work of Jesus as
priest as they do so? The words of Peter should encourage people:

       You are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a
       people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God
       who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. [1
       Peter 2:9]

Sharing in the mission of Jesus as prophet
To the early Christians, Jesus was not merely a prophet but the greatest
of prophets. Unlike others, who proclaimed only what was revealed to
them by God, Jesus was Son of God. He is both human and divine. As
the inspired author of Hebrews explains:

       At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to
       our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final
       days, God spoke to us in the person of his Son …
       [Hebrews 1:1-2]

Even before they knew of his resurrection, his disciples recognised that
Jesus was no ordinary prophet.

       (Have you not heard) all about Jesus of Nazareth, who showed
       himself a great prophet in action and speech before God and the
       whole people? [Luke 24:9]

Christians know that Jesus lives in them through Baptism, when they try
to live his teachings by words and actions, he continues his work as
prophet through them [John 14:23].

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They remember too his teaching about living his message through their
actions as well as words.

       You are salt for the earth.

       You are light for the world … your light must shine in people’s
       sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to
       your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:13, 14, 16]

Jesus promised his followers that the Holy Spirit would help them when
they felt pressured to continue trying, the Holy Spirit would achieve
through them what they could not achieve alone

       But when you are handed over, do not worry about how to speak
       or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the
       time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit
       of your Father will be speaking in you. [Matthew 10:19-20]

Jesus warned that those who refused to accept their prophetic
responsibilities would not be recognised by him in the next life.

       I tell you, if any one openly declares himself for me in the
       presence of human beings, the Son of Man will declare himself
       for him in the presence of God’s angels. But any one who
       disowns me in the presence of human beings will be disowned in
       the presence of God’s angels. [Luke 12:8-9]

These words relate to rejection of the Christian call to be a prophet in
modern society — not to the failures all may experience at times, and
which Christ forgives after repentance.

From the life of Jesus, Christians know that they live as God wishes
whenever they try to proclaim Jesus’ teachings in words by, for example,
presenting Christian viewpoints in debates, discussions, when asked for
advice and when making public statements, such as letters to
newspapers and by signing petitions.

Sharing in the mission of Jesus as king
The early Christians saw Christ as king because of his conquest of the
Devil, both in temptations [Matthew 4:1-4] and at his death [Luke 23:43].
They knew too:
 he created means for them to draw upon God’s power to conquer evil
  in their lives, especially the Sacraments
 they actually experienced the conquest of evil in their own lives
  through God’s power.

They knew that Jesus was not a king in the normal sense, but in a
spiritual sense. In his words of response in John’s Gospel to Pilate’s
question during his trial, Jesus replied:

       Mine is not a kingdom of this world. [John 18:36]

The early Christians believed that the conquest of Jesus over evil was
complete. They spoke of it in triumphant terms

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        It is (God the Father) who has rescued us from the ruling forces
        of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son that he
        loves, and, in him, we enjoy our freedom, the forgiveness of sin.
        [Colossians 1:13-14]

From earliest times, Catholics have believed they are called to share in
Jesus’ role as king. As they do so, they live as God wants. They
remember the words of Jesus

        in my name … cast out devils.

        This kind (of devil) can be driven out only by prayer. [Mark 16:17,

This leads them to strive in two ways:
 to foster the values Jesus taught in society and the lives of others
 to struggle against evil in the world.

However, the need to struggle against evil leads Christians in turn to
keep struggling against personal weaknesses, temptations and sin so
that the influence of God’s power can continue to grow in their lives

        They exercise their kingship as Christians, above all, in the
        spiritual combat in which they seek to overcome in themselves
        the kingdom of sin, and then, to make a gift of themselves so as
        to serve in charity and justice, Jesus who is present himself in all
        this brothers and sisters, above all in the very least. [Vocation
        and Mission 14]

But, in particular, lay faithful are called to restore to creation all its
original value.

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               TO LIVE, RELATE AND WORK

This chapter presents the following key understandings and
learning points

Key Understanding 4
Catholics seek guidance for how to live, relate and work

4.1 Followers of Christ discern their calling in life

4.2 Charity needs to be central to the choices Christians make

4.3 The Holy Spirit transforms believers to live the Christian

Key Understanding 5
Scripture provides guidance for how to live, relate and work

5.1 Reading and interpreting the Bible requires skills and

5.2 Scripture supports the prayer and worship life of the Church

5.3 The Bible reveals truths about how people should live, relate
and work

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Key Understanding 4
Catholics seek guidance for how to live, relate and work

4.1 Followers of Christ discern their calling in life

Christians accept re-creation by listening to discover their
One of the things Jesus came to do was to make it possible for people to
recognise their callings from God, and to follow them. The way he does
so is by making clear to each his or her calling in a personal way. The
first examples of this are found in the Gospels

       As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
       Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew … And he
       said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of
       people’. [Matthew 4:18-22]

       He saw another pair of brothers, James, Son of Zebedee and his
       brother, John … and he called them. [Matthew 9:9]

       (Jesus) saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and
       he said to him, ‘Follow me’. Jesus turned round, saw (the two
       disciples of John the Baptist) following and said, ‘What do you
       want?’. They answered, ‘Rabbi, where do you live?’ He replied,
       ‘Come and see’. [John 1:35-43]

       (Saul) fell to the ground, and then heard a voice saying, ‘Saul,
       Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ he
       asked, and the answer came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are
       persecuting. Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what
       to do’.
       [Acts 9:5-6]:

Jesus calls personally through the Holy Spirit
Jesus of Nazareth called his followers by word. Today he does so
through the Holy Spirit whom he shares through Baptism.

With God the Father and Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives within every
baptised believer. It is through the Spirit that Christians today discover
their personal callings from Jesus. This is the One whom Jesus

       will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.
       [John 14:26]

The key to discovering the critical answers is to keep trying to ‘listen’ to
the voice of the Lord. This involves listening to the Word whenever it is
proclaimed thinking about what it is teaching and praying about how it
applies to one’s own life.

As the believer enters into ‘dialogue’ with Jesus, the Spirit’s guidance is
received gradually through the thoughts, interests, concerns and
perspectives on life that develop

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       To be able to discover the actual will of the Lord in our lives
       always involves the following: a receptive listening to the Word of
       God and the Church, fervent and constant prayer, recourse to a
       wise and loving spiritual guide, and a faithful discernment of the
       gifts and talents given by God, as well as of the diverse social
       and historic situations in which one lives.

       The history of every priestly vocation, as indeed of every
       Christian vocation, is the history of an inexpressible dialogue
       between God and human beings, between the love of the God
       who calls and the freedom of individuals who respond lovingly.
       This is the constant paradigm, the fundamental datum of every
       vocation: whether of prophets, apostles, priests, religious, the lay
       faithful — everyone.
       [Vocation and Mission 58 and Shepherds 36]

Vocations become clear in different ways
People have heard their Christian callings from God in many different
ways for thousands of years. This is important to recognise when trying
to work out one’s personal vocation with the path it involves — perhaps
particular studies, jobs, relationships and other such choices. Four of
these ways are:
   a sense of direct calling
   a calling identified with others’ help
   a calling recognised by looking back
   a calling recognised after another’s suggestion.

Good examples of each of these are found in the Old Testament.

The sense of a direct calling
Abraham and Moses provide good examples of God calling people

       Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your kindred and
       your father’s house for a country which I shall show you; and I
       shall make you a great nation’. [Genesis 12:1-2]

       (Yahweh then said to Moses:) now I am sending you to Pharaoh,
       for you to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. [Exodus

A personal vocation can become clear in a flash of insight and
conviction. The moment may occur in prayer, during the Eucharist or
after some significant experience or event.

The calling identified with the help of others
The prophet Samuel provides a good example of someone being called
by God, but not recognising this until someone else guided him to the
source of what he was hearing

       Eli then understood that Yahweh was calling the child, and he
       said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say,
       “Speak Yahweh, for your servant is listening”’. So Samuel went
       and lay down in his place.

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       Yahweh then came and stood by, calling as he had done before,
       ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak Yahweh; for your
       servant is listening’. [1 Samuel 3:9-10]

For some a personal vocation can become clear only with the help of
others. These may be parents, priests, religious brothers or sisters,
teachers or close adult relatives or friends.

The calling recognised by looking back over time
The prophet Jeremiah is a good example of someone who prayed and
did faithfully what he believed to be right day by day. Only eventually did
he recognise the call of God as he looked back over the path his life

       The word of Yahweh came to me, saying:

       ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to
       birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the
       nations.’ [Jeremiah 1:4-5]

For many their personal vocation becomes clear onlyas they look back
over the direction their lives seem to have taken. They have simply tried
to live and worship as Jesus taught, and to make the right decisions, one
at a time — they have discovered themselves already following a path.
The call of Christ has been gradual, and they find themselves becoming
conscious of a calling they are already following.

The calling recognised after another’s suggestion
The prophet Elisha is a good example of someone told of his vocation by
someone else.

       Leaving there, (Elijah) came on Elisha, son of Shaphat as he was
       ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being near the
       twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him.
       Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. [1 Kings 19:19-20]

(The action of throwing the cloak was an ancient eastern symbol of
handing over the person and rights of the owner. In the prophet’s case, it
was also a handing over of the calling and powers given him by God.)

People can remain unaware of their calling until another person of faith
is led by Christ to see it and suggest it to them.

In each of these Old Testament examples, once the individual
concerned responded to his calling from God, his vocation became
increasingly clear as life progressed.

What the Old Testament examples and Christian experience highlight is
how God may be using others to help people find their callings. Perhaps,
if they are confused, they could seek the counsel of others who follow
Christ and to whom they feel that they can talk. Others will not be able to
tell them what their vocations may be, but perhaps they can help them
discover it for themselves.

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Personal vocations require cooperation with God who is calling
In God’s plan, people have been given the gifts to follow their vocation.

The actual calling is received through Christ, as was the case for the
Apostles. As people relate with Christ, their callings grow, being made
increasingly clear by the Holy Spirit as they respond to Christ.

Catholic belief can be summed up as follows:

       From eternity, God has thought of us and has loved us as unique
       individuals. Every one of us (God) has called by name, as the
       Good Shepherd ‘calls his sheep by name’.
       [Vocation and Mission 58]

Only in the unfolding of the history of life and its events is the eternal
plan of God revealed to each person. It is a gradual process; in a certain
sense, one that happens day by day. The stimulus is always the call of

Vocations require acceptance and a desire to grow
Many remain confused about their future directions and decisions. They
may put off decisions, or make them, only to change them later on.

Every vocation requires acceptance and a desire to change and grow.
The first followers of Jesus left behind what they had been doing quite
decisively and followed him [e.g. Matthew 3:20, 22].

It is not always easy to accept this reality as the Gospels show. In the
story of the Rich Young Man, Jesus loved the youth who kept persisting
with his questions. However, in the end, he could not follow Jesus
because the calling in his case seemed too radical:

       He was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before
       him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to
       inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me
       good? No one is good but God alone. You know the
       commandments: You shall not kill; You shall not commit adultery;
       You shall not steal; You shall not give false witness; You shall
       not defraud; Honour you father and mother.’ And he said to him,
       ‘Master, I have kept all these since my earliest days.’ Jesus
       looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he
       said, ‘You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own
       and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in
       heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words
       and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

       Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for
       those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The
       disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My
       children,’ he said to them, ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of
       God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
       than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were
       more astonished than ever, saying to one another, ‘In that case,
       who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them and said. ‘By human

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        resources it is impossible, but not for God: because for God
        everything is possible.’ [Mark 10:17-27]

This story and Jesus’ response to it show that, at times, a Christian’s
vocation can seem radical. Jesus teaches that God helps people who
are willing to follow.

Accepting the promise of Jesus
The rich young man never fulfilled his potential. His gifts were not
fulfilled because he did not follow the calling that would develop them.

Those who focus more upon wealth and material things, fail to find
fulfilment. No matter how much they might accumulate, their lives are
never fully realised. Personal fulfilment and satisfaction with life remain

The key challenge is to seek and accept the help Jesus promises. While
remaining uncompromising about the radical callings that some will be
given, Jesus promises always his support and help. No one is meant to
follow their vocations alone

        If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce
        himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. [Luke

        Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will
        give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am
        gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
        Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light. [Matthew 11:28-30]

The work of Jesus
At times, Christians can become so involved in aspects of the work of
Christ that they forget it is his work. As a result, they forget to relate and
work with him.

Working with anyone closely requires communication. Because they
were to work with Jesus, the first recorded Gospel description of the
Apostles is that they were to be his companions [Mark 3:14].

They were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim his

The ways Christians maintain this companionship is through worship
and daily prayer. This is as he intended when saying

        And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.

        Where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them.
        [Matthew 18:20, 28:20]

With Christ, vocations always bring fulfilment and happiness. However,
those who do not seek the support of Christ will never find true
happiness or fulfilment.

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Responding to the Christian vocation requires people to:
  seek the companionship of Jesus, especially through worship and
  try to understand better the Word of God
  pray for guidance about the future
  find out all that is involved in various workers to which we may feel
  ask for help to leave behind whatever tempts us not to follow.

The question for any Christian who is uncertain about future directions
is: ‘to what extent am I responding and allowing Christ to guide me?’

As people pray for guidance in their vocations privately and in worship,
especially the Eucharist, they co-operate with the Holy Spirit who seeks
to free them from the confusion of values, attitudes and other human
weaknesses that hamper their discovery of personal.

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4.2 Charity needs to be central to the choices Christians make

Jesus came to serve as a model and teacher for all humanity. An
important part of his mission, from God the Father, was to restore fully
the human capacity to reflect God. As part of this, he taught by his
actions and words the charity needed for genuine human relationships.

Jesus showed how to live ‘charity’
Jesus modelled love of God and love of others for God’s sake. He
showed his love for God the Father through prayer [Luke 6:12], temple
worship [John 7:14], and praying with communities in synagogues [Luke
4:16]. He showed it most of all by dedicating his life completely to what
God the Father wanted.

       I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will
       of him who sent me.
       [John 6:38]

Sent by God the Father, Jesus showed what charity to others requires.
He did so, for example, by:
  remaining available to children even when he was tired [Matthew
  caring for the sick and those in need [Matthew 20:29-34]
  understanding Peter’s weaknesses that led him to deny knowing who
   Jesus was [Matthew 26:40,69-75]
  forgiving his disciples [John 20:19-21]
  giving his life, rather than teaching what people needed to hear about
   God [John 12:20-28]
  preaching to the crowds that sought him, even though he had wanted
   to be alone [Mark 6:30-34]
  remaining patient when his disciples failed to understand [Mark 4:13-
  caring for the cripple’s needs, even though he knew others did not
   approve [John 5:1-17]

Jesus sought to change his society
Jesus sought to change his society’s attitude to prayer and worship to
God by stressing that these things must be sincere and not for show
[Matthew 6:56]. People should:
   pray together [Matthew 18:19-20]
   seek forgiveness of anyone they have offended before worshipping
    [Matthew 5:23-24].

He also criticised people who abuse the things of God for profit [Matthew

Jesus taught his followers what they need to do to develop charity. For
example, he taught them to meet the needs of others [Matthew

Bringing the love of charity to other organisations
Many believers who respond to God as Jesus taught bring charity to
non-Church social institutions and government organisations. The
charity that is growing in their hearts affects how they deal with those

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with whom they relate. They change what can be impersonal to being
loving. Their thoughts and feelings reflect the love of God., realised not only by individuals but also in a joint way by
       groups and communities, is and will always be necessary.
       Nothing and no one will be able to substitute for it, not even the
       multiplicity of institutions and public initiatives forced to give a
       response to the needs — oftentimes today so serious and
       widespread — of entire populations. [Vocation and Mission 41]

Charity is made increasingly necessary the more institutions become
complex and impersonal in their dealings with people.

Organisations that express charity
The charity of every individual is important. For practical reasons people
feel the need to join with others to express their Christian charity. They
find it easier to reach out to others in need by joining or helping
organisations with charity as their goal.

       Precisely in this context (of charity) various forms of volunteer
       work which express themselves in a multiplicity of services and
       activities continue to come about and to spread, particularly in
       organised society.

       If this impartial service be truly given for the good of all persons,
       especially the most in need and forgotten by the social services
       of society itself, then, volunteer work can be considered an
       important expression of the apostolate, in which lay men and
       women have a primary role. [Vocation and Mission 41]

Seeking out and responding to those in need can be difficult. It can
involve overcoming doing what may not be easy or comfortable.

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4.3 The Holy Spirit transforms believers to live the Christian
In the Gospels, Jesus was strengthened by the Holy Spirit to do his
father’s will. He had ‘the power of the Spirit in him’ [Luke 4:14].

Before his Ascension, he told his followers that they too would receive
this Spirit. The Spirit would strengthen them to live the Christian
message, and encourage them to keep trying to develop society. They
should wait for this Spirit to guide them.

       And now, I am sending upon you what the Father has promised.
       Stay in the city, then, until you are clothed with the power from on
       high. [Luke 24:49]

This promise was fulfilled for the Apostles at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-8].
They were changed from being fearful people to people of courage.
Immediately, they began to speak out boldly in their society.

After Pentecost, the promise of Jesus to his followers has been fulfilled
through Baptism and Confirmation, the two sacraments Jesus instituted
for this purpose. As those who are baptised and confirmed pray and
worship, especially through the Eucharist, the strength of the Holy Spirit
grows in their lives. They experience the spiritual guidance and inner
strength needed to overcome pressures.

       Be prepared for people to hand you over to sanhedrins and
       scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before
       governors and kings for my sake, as evidence to them and to the

       But when you are handed over, do you worry about how to speak
       or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the
       time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit
       of your Father will be speaking in you. [Matthew 10:17-20]

Jesus promised that those who resisted persecution would experience
blessings in this life as well as in the next. In this life, they would
experience greater personal development.

       anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. [Matthew 10:17-

There would also be greater blessings. These are recorded in the

       Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of
       uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
       Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and
       speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account.
       Rejoice and be glad, for your reward with be great in heaven; this
       is how they persecuted the prophets before you.
       [Matthew 5:10-12]

Many Christians do not allow the strength of the Holy Spirit to grow
within them. They fail to worship or to pray sufficiently for this to happen.

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Jesus was uncompromising about his command that his followers teach
others ‘to observe all the commands I gave you’ [Matthew 28:20]. For
example, his words in the Gospels of Luke and Mark are:

       I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the
       presence of human beings, the Son of man will declare himself
       for him in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who
       disowns me in the presence of human beings will be disowned in
       the presence of God’s angels. [Luke 12:8-9]

       For if anyone in this sinful and adulterous generation is ashamed
       of me and of my words, the Son of man will also be ashamed of
       him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy
       angels. [Mark 8:38]

When reading these words, two things need to be kept in mind. Firstly,
while they are alive in this world, Jesus will forgive those who may
disown him, provided they repent later. Jesus showed this to be true in
the way he forgave Peter.

Secondly, Jesus makes it possible for all his followers to draw on the
strength of the Holy Spirit. They have not been left to their own
resources. There is a strength available to help them that is beyond
human strength.

Jesus expects his followers to develop the strength of the Spirit that they
have received. He expects them to nourish it through the Eucharist. This
is one reason he commanded them:

       … do this in remembrance of me. [Luke 22:19]

Jesus is uncompromising in his demand because it is necessary if
society is going to be changed.

Those who feel unable to resist social trends and pressures need to ask
whether or not they are neglecting to use the means Jesus gave to
deepen the Spirit’s strength within them.

People need the Salvation offered by Jesus to follow their vocation
Human nature is unable to overcome the human weaknesses that
hamper the efforts of people to discover and to follow their vocations and
to work as God calls. People need ‘Salvation’ to be healed by God from
these weaknesses. God so values vocations that God offers this
Salvation through Jesus.

One effect of Christian Salvation is that God restores human nature so
that, gradually, people overcome human weaknesses. To the extent that
people keep relating with God as Jesus taught, increasingly they
function as the Creator originally intended. Increasingly people can see
and follow their vocations.

God the Father began the restoring human nature by sending Jesus, the
Son of God. Jesus then shared with all who accept Baptism the Holy

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Spirit, whose task is to redeem and transform human nature from

The Holy Spirit’s particular task is that of restoring the believer from

       The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy
       Spirit which has been given to us. [Romans 5:15]

       It is God who gives us, with you, a sure place in Christ and has
       both anointed us and marked us with his seal, giving us as
       pledge the Spirit in our hearts. [2 Corinthians 1:2-22]

       Whoever keeps his commandments remains in God, and God in
       him. And this is the proof that he remains in us: the Spirit that he
       has given us. [1 John 3:24]

To teach believers how to co-operate with the Holy Spirit, Jesus showed
in his own life how to do so through his behaviour and words. In the
Gospels, he was:
   led by the Spirit [Luke 4:1]
   empowered by the Spirit to overcome the power of the devil [Luke

Jesus taught his followers how to co-operate with the Holy Spirit. He
taught them to pray, to worship, especially through the Eucharist he
gave them at the Last Supper and to live the Christian life.

Where their vocations are concerned, some of the effects of the Holy
Spirit are revealed in:
  greater clarity about personal direction in life
  guidance in decisions about future work, employment, career
   choices, study programmes
  increased willingness to become God’s fellow-workers
  increased commitment to fulfil personal needs so as to function more
   effectively as God’s fellow-workers, especially to proper rest and
  increased commitment to Christian values related to contributing to
   the development of
              - individuals
              - society
              - the environment.

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Key Understanding 5
Scripture provides guidance for how to live, relate and work.

5.1 Reading and interpreting Scripture enables people to make
The Bible or Sacred Scriptures tell of the loving relationship between
God and people. They draw people into relationship; teach about the
Christian faith and challenge people on how life and relationships with
others are lived.

Christians believe that God inspired the writers of the Bible. This
inspiration reveals truths that God wants people to know. The authors of
the books of the Bible used a variety of literary forms to communicate
their record of people’s experience with God.

To understand what the authors intended to communicate to people the
Catholic Church teaches that:

       In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader
       must take into account the conditions of their time and culture,
       the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling,
       speaking and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is
       differently presented and expressed in various types of historical
       writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of
       literary expression.” [CCC 110]

God’s revelation is communicated through Scripture and Tradition.

       …the speech of God, as it is put down in writing under the breath
       of the Holy Spirit… [DV 9]

and Tradition ,
       … comes from the Apostles and hands on what they received
       from Jesus’ teaching and example and what they learned from
       the Holy Spirit.[DV 9]

Scripture and Tradition are closely related and support each other
through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the person of Jesus Christ.

God’s word
God’s word is made present in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was
fully human and fully divine; this enabled people to experience God’s
love on a personal level. The Bible is called God’s word because of this
close link with Jesus.

It is through the work of inspired writers that the Bible reveals God,
God’s nature, saving work and God’s purpose for humanity.

The Bible
The word ‘Bible’ comes from the Greek word biblion which means book
or scroll. The plural ta biblia means books or library. The Bible, is exactly

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that, a library or collection of books. This collection contains books
written by a variety of authors over a long period of time.

The Bible has two main parts: the Old and New Testaments. The Old
Testament records the relationship that God entered into with Abraham
and his descendants. The New Testament focuses on the relationship
God desires with all people through Jesus Christ, his Son.

The Church teaches:

       The unity of the two Testaments proceeds from the unity of
       God’s plan and his Revelation. The Old Testament prepares for
       the New and the New Testament fulfils the Old; the two shed
       light on each other; both are true Word of God. [CCC 140]

The more people read, study and reflect on the Bible the more they can
discover what God is communicating to people.

The Catholic approach to interpreting the Bible
The Catholic Church believes that the Bible should be read with an
understanding that the Sacred Authors did not intend people to take
every detail in their writings as exact historical fact.

Ancient historians often used historical figures and events in ways that
best illustrated the lessons they wanted to teach. They selected and
reorganised events to suit their purposes, frequently expressing these
truths in the form of a story.

One of the ways of sharing the truth they learned about God was to
present it symbolically. To do this, they used stories, poems, myths, wise
sayings, and so on. This is not to say that the Bible is without factual
material; actually it contains a great many facts. Beyond any mere
concern for what was factual, the prime concern of the authors was to
convey to the people the truth they knew about God.

Reading the Bible with the idea that every detail about every event
actually took place is called ‘biblical fundamentalism’. People who take
this literal approach can misinterpret the Bible.

Catholics are not obliged to take literally every detail contained in the
Bible. For example, the Church does not dismiss the theories of creation
proposed by scientists nor the idea that human life may have evolved
over hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of years. What is
essential is that Catholics recognise God as the creator of the universe
and of human life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines four ways people can
become more familiar with reading and interpreting the Bible, by:
    discovering the intention of the author and what God wanted to
    being attentive to the content and unity of the whole Bible
    reading Scripture within the living Tradition of the Church
    being attentive to the analogy of faith

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Discovering the intention of the author and what God wanted to
The authors of the Bible often had a central theme or message in mind
inspired by their understanding of what God wanted to reveal. When
examining a particular passage it helps to read the whole chapter to gain
an insight into the purpose of the story or extract.

For example, the story of the Prodigal Son [Luke 15:11-32] is a response
to people who criticised Jesus for welcoming sinners. This helps us
understand that the story of the prodigal son refers to the teaching that
all people are welcome, sinners included.

Being attentive to the content and unity of the whole Bible
It is important to examine the Bible as a whole. Some passages when
read in isolation can be misinterpreted and, through reading more
extensively, one statement can be clarified by its links with other
passages of Scripture.

Reading Scripture within the living tradition of the Church
Some passages from the Bible do not make sense in the modern world.
It is only when they are examined in their original context of place, time
and people that they can be fully appreciated.

For example, in Amos 5:21, God tells the people that their festivals and
songs are despised. In reading the introduction to the book of Amos
people learn that Amos was sent by God to speak to rich people who
took advantage of the poor and then feasted and worshipped God in
lavish festivals. What God really hated was the hypocrisy of the rich and
their treatment of the poor and disadvantaged.

In the Catholic Church the bishops have the ultimate responsibility for
interpreting God’s revelation in the Bible. The Magisterium is the
teaching body of the Church and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit it
preserves, teaches and reinterprets Scripture and Tradition for new

Being attentive to the analogy of faith
The faith or body of teaching which the scriptures as a whole proclaim
cannot be contradicted in any way by any passage. Therefore, if two or
three different interpretations of a verse are equally possible, any
interpretation that contradicts the clear teaching of any other scriptures
must be ruled out from the beginning.

The truths of faith have coherence among themselves and within the
whole plan of Revelation. The Church gathered the essential elements
of its faith in summaries; these summaries are called the truths of faith
and can be seen in the Creeds.

       This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human
       opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was
       gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of
       the faith in its entirety. And, just as the mustard seed contains a
       great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of
       faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the

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       true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments. [St Cyril
       of Jerusalem in CCC 186]

Exegesis – the critical explanation or interpretation of Scripture
Every day, whenever people read or listen to others, they participate in
exegesis. The process of understanding and interpreting what is read or
heard is known as exegesis.

When applied to Scripture exegesis becomes more specialised. Reading
and understanding the Bible is a complex activity that requires guidance
and practice. Historically, biblical exegesis has been practised over the
centuries to teach people about what God has revealed in the scriptures
and how this applies to life. Biblical exegesis is a systematic way of
interpreting Scripture.

According to an ancient tradition there are two ‘senses’ of Scripture: the
literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical,
moral and anagogical senses. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
recommends that people who wish to study the Sacred Scripture should
work according to:

      The literal sense –the meaning conveyed by the words of
       Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of
       sound interpretation
      The spiritual sense – not only the text of Scripture but also the
       realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
                1. The allegorical sense – recognising the significance of
                Christ in events
                2. The moral sense – the events in Scripture should lead
                people to act justly
                3. The anagogical sense – [Gk: anagoge – leading] the
                eternal significance of realities and events, leading people
                towards God.

All these senses can be employed at one time to analyse Scripture or
they may be used in a systematic way to gain a broad understanding of
the text.

Exegesis has two purposes analysis and synthesis. Analysis relates to
the understanding of text from a variety of viewpoints and synthesis
relates to how the reader links the different viewpoints together and
applies this understanding to life.

A very simple process of exegesis could be framed by the following

      What does the author say?
      What did the author mean?
      What does it mean for me?

People turn to the Scripture for guidance on how to live their lives
Pope John Paul II stated that every baptised person has an ongoing
responsibility to become a living witness and example of the Christian
way of life. [Mission of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Missio, 1990]

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Personal witness can take many forms for example:
       living an exemplary life inspired by the good news of the
       using prayer and celebration of the sacraments and other
          forms of worship
       interacting with family and friends and other everyday
       living out the Christian faith at school, work, home
       participating in various areas of service within the community.

Being a Christian is not only about what a person believes; it is also
about how they live their lives. To be a Christian means to do one’s best
to follow the gospels.

       … if we are to live biblically we must know what the Bible says
       and be inspired to follow it in our lives. [Living Biblically, 2008]

The Bible provides guidance for people on how they should live, relate
and work. The challenge is to know and understand the Scriptures so
that they have real meaning for people and are seen as a rich reference
for life.

       If we draw again from the treasures in Holy Scripture and live
       biblically, we will not only be transformed ourselves, but we will
       transform the world around as well. [Living Biblically, 2008]

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5.2 Scripture supports the prayer and worship life of the Church
Sacred Scripture is experienced in liturgies as a reality in which the Holy
Spirit proclaims and bears witness, beyond what is in written form, to the
actual event of Christ’s life in this world.

There is an intimate connection between words and the liturgies of the
Church. Members of the Church discover and welcome God who speaks
through liturgical prayer in a unique way.

The Liturgy of the Word is one of the easiest prayers for people. They
are required to simply listen to God speak to them. When the Word of
God is spoken in liturgies, God is speaking directly. It is not about
listening to something God once said. People are not being taught a
lesson. The living God is speaking to them at that moment in their lives.
People need to really listen to what God is saying to them. It will be
different depending on the person’s needs. God supports and guides
people in their daily life if they listen to his Word in the Scriptures
proclaimed during liturgies. God will guide people in many ways
including decisions about how they are called to live their lives.

Jesus is truly present when Scripture is read during liturgies
Christ is truly present in his Word, it is he himself who speaks when the
Holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Sacred Scripture is of the
greatest importance in the celebration of Liturgy. When celebrating
liturgy Christians pay special attention to every moment of encounter
with the Word. Scripture renews and reinvigorates the People of God. It
is a source of nourishment, strength and life.

Liturgical celebrations spread knowledge and love of Sacred Scripture,
the Church’s ongoing task is to put into practise the use of the Word in
the Liturgy.

Scripture readings used for worship are planned
The Scripture readings used for worship are planned for the year in
order to unfold the life of Christ from his incarnation and birth until his
ascension, the day of Pentecost and the expectation of hope in his
return. Through the readings, the Church offers people an opportunity to
journey with Christ in their daily lives.

The reading of sacred Scripture in the liturgical celebration is always
accompanied by prayer so that the reading may have greater effect and
that prayer may be better understood and more sincere because of the

For many Christians, Sunday Mass is the main way of encountering the
Word of God.

Liturgical Cycles
For Sundays and other special days throughout the church year, there
are three sets of readings allocated for each day. These readings are
assigned to Liturgical Years A, B, and C. In Year A the Gospel of
Matthew is read. In Year B the Gospel of Mark is read, and in Year C the
Gospel of Luke is read. The Gospel of John focuses on the risen life of
Christ, so it is read mainly during the Lent and Easter season and during

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the Advent and Christmas season.

For weekdays in ordinary time and other special days throughout the
church year, there are two sets of readings for the day. These readings
are assigned to Liturgical Cycles I and II. Odd years are assigned Cycle
I, and even years are assigned Cycle II. There are special readings for
the feasts of our Lord and his mother Mary, for important feasts of the
saints, and for special needs and occasions.

The Liturgical Year
The liturgical year includes the rites, celebrations, and feasts that take
place during the Church year and are highlighted in the Scripture
readings and prayers of the Mass. Throughout the Church year, various
aspects of Jesus' life, death and resurrection unfold. The liturgical year
begins with Advent, followed by Christmas Time, Ordinary Time (from
the Baptism of the Lord until Ash Wednesday), Lent, Easter Time, and
Ordinary Time (resuming after Pentecost until the first Sunday of

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5.3 The Bible reveals truths about how people should live, relate
and work
The inspired writers of Sacred Scripture describe many events that
demonstrate God’s love and desire for people to be in relationship with
God. One such event is the gift of the Ten Commandments to the people
of Israel [Exodus 20: 2-17].

       Inspired by God Moses delivered to the people of Israel not only
       the ten great commandments in stone, but a large number of
       regulations to govern the daily lives of the people… They were
       sacred obligations meant to bind people together as the faithful
       and holy People of God. [Living Biblically, 2008]

The Commandments give guidance on how people should live
work and relate
The Ten Commandments are often referred to as the Decalogue which
is Greek for ‘Ten Words’.

They express the fundamental duties of an individual towards God and

       The Ten Commandments state what is required in the love of
       God and love of neighbour. The first three concern love of God,
       and the other seven love of neighbour. [CCC 2067]

Jesus’ teaching is based on the Ten Commandments. His great
commandment of love lies at the heart of the Jewish tradition.

       This is the first:
       Listen Israel, the Lord our God is the one, only Lord, and you
       must love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul,
       with all your mind and with all your strength.
       The second is this:
       You must love your neighbour as yourself.
       There is no commandment greater than these. [Mark 12:29–30]

The Commandments communicate attitudes and behaviour which must
be incorporated into the daily life of those who want to lead fully
Christian lives. Christians need to consider not only the practical
applications of living out the Commandments, but also ways in which to
personalise the values, making them a foundation on which to build a life
of faith.

One of the Commandments that people in society tend to ignore is the
Third Commandment to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest and
worship. Observing the Sabbath was a command to rest from labour as
God did. Christians respect Sunday by devoting time and care to their
families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week
when people are at school or working. Sunday is a time for reflection,
silence, nurturing the mind and all activities that further the growth of
Christian life and vocation.

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God teaches family responsibilities through Commandments
The Creator of humanity revealed the value of family. God’s concern that
the family function effectively to provide the stability needed by all led
God to reveal the responsibilities family members must exercise towards
each other. God does so particularly in the Third, Fourth and Sixth
Commandments, as well as in the Sacrament of Marriage.

God reveals the gift of the family
God loves every human being and as Creator, understands best the
needs of each. God knows what people need, for example, to develop:
  a sense of self-worth
  emotional maturity
  inner strength
  an awareness of personal gifts
  personal identity
  an awareness of vocation
  a sense of personal direction in life.

Among the most basic human needs is stability in relationships. To
provide this stability, God created the family. Since God’s intention for
the family was not understood clearly from the earliest times, God
revealed it to the people of Israel.

The family as revealed in Genesis
We find God’s intention for the family revealed in the earliest chapters of
the Bible, which deal with so many questions about human nature. The
first family in the Book of Genesis comprised Adam and Eve and their

The Creation Stories teach that all who belonged to the first family from
the beginning were equal in dignity:
     the woman was created from the man’s rib, and not from the earth
      like other creatures.
     her nature was the same as that of the man and so she was equal
     their children also came from them, rather than from any other
      elements. They too share the same nature and equality.

The Third Commandment
For a family to function effectively, its members need to relate. In order
to relate, they need to spend time together.

The Third Commandment is: Keep holy the Lord’s Day. The first five
books of the Bible, called the books of the Law or the ‘Torah’, expand
upon what this Commandment means. It requires:
 family members to worship, so that God can draw them closer together
  and empower them to overcome family difficulties and tensions
 family members to spend time relaxing together
 individuals to take a day free from work so that, being restored from
  stresses, they are better able to function as the Creator intends.

Catholics understand that the Third Commandment requires them to
worship by participating in the Eucharist. However, they also understand
their family leisure responsibilities on this day.

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       The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate
       rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social and
       religious lives.

       On Sundays…the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or
       activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to
       the Lord’s Day…and the appropriate relaxation of mind and

       Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to
       their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of
       the week. [CCC 2184 to 2186]

The Fourth Commandment
The Fourth Commandment is: Honour your father and your mother. It
summarises all that God has taught in the Bible about family

To function effectively, a family needs its members to fulfil their
responsibilities towards each other. The Fourth Commandment deals
 responsibilities of parents to their children
 responsibilities of children to their parents.

In identifying those responsible for contributing to the life of a family,
God is revealing the Creator’s intentions about the human family and
how it should contribute to the well being of its members.

The Sixth Commandment
This Commandment, You shall not commit adultery, summarises God’s
laws about the relationship that needs to exist between married people.
It includes God’s requirements that parents develop their relationship so
that the stability they and their children need for their full development is

The Sixth Commandment forbids:
 married people from having sexual relationships with anyone other
  than their spouses
 contributing in any way towards their separation or divorce
 remarriage while the person to whom someone has been married

Many people divorce. It is not possible for others to judge whether either
contributed towards the situation that led to this, or whether the couple
simply could not cope with social pressures or stresses on their
marriage. This is a matter between the couple concerned and God.

Christians promote re-creation by promoting the two great
Commandments of Jesus
Jesus taught two great Commandments, ones his followers try to
promote in society. These are:

       You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your
       soul, with all your mind and with all your strength
       You shall love your neighbours as yourself. [Luke 10:27]

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Promoting love of God
Christians know that only God can empower people sufficiently to rise
above their human weaknesses. This is why the first great
Commandment of Jesus concerns loving God. Without a strong
relationship with God, the other teachings of Jesus remain impossible

Society will improve as the individuals who make it up overcome their
human weaknesses. Therefore, Christians realise the importance of
promoting in society the human relationship with God. For example, by:
 showing, by their actions, the importance of relating with God
  (especially by worshipping on the Lord’s Day)
 doing whatever they can to encourage respect for the Lord’s Day
 discouraging the use of the name of God, Jesus and holy people in
  disrespectful ways.

Promoting love of neighbour
Jesus was very specific about how his followers were to love. They were
to love: I have loved you. [John 15:12]

The love of Jesus was self-sacrificing. It was this aspect that led the Son
of God to:

       (empty) himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human
       beings are...
       [Philippians 2:7]

The self-giving dimension of Christian love goes contrary to many of the
values people hold in society. People become so absorbed with their
own needs that they ignore the needs of others, and are indifferent to
the plight of the poor, refugees, the elderly, the sick and those with
special needs.

Christians try to lead people away from undue preoccupation with
themselves, and towards greater concern for humanity in general. They
seek to influence social attitudes and awareness wherever they can

Christians promote the values of the Fourth Commandment
Of the Ten Commandments, the first three concern the human
relationship with God. The Fourth to the Tenth Commandments deal
with aspects of human relationships.

The Fourth Commandment focuses positively upon the obligations
required in relationships.

Fourth Commandment: Honour your father and your mother.
These brief words outline God’s laws about relationships within the
family and society. They summarise especially those laws found in the
first five books of the Bible which formed the Law or the ‘Torah’.

The range of these laws is explained as follows in the Catechism of the
Catholic Church:

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         The commandment is expressed in positive terms of duties to be
         fulfilled. It introduces the subsequent commandments which are
         concerned with particular respect for life, marriage, earthly
         goods, and speech. It constitutes one of the foundations of the
         social doctrine of the Church. [CCC 2198 and 2199]

It requires honour, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors.
Its teaching extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to
employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to
those who administer or govern it.

Christians find their potential to relate being re-created by the Spirit as
they promote:
 the family in God’s plan
 the proper relationships between family members
 the rights of the family in society
 proper respect for civil authorities.

Parents fulfil responsibilities towards their children
The foundation of parental responsibilities towards children is the
obligation to recognise that it is God who has entrusted their children to
them. Their children are not theirs by right, nor are they personal
property or possessions.

From this obligation flow many responsibilities. The following are some
examples [Catechism 2222-2226, 2228]:

      Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect
       them as human persons.
      Parents have the first responsibilities for the education of their
       children. They give witness to this responsibility by creating a home
       where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and service are the
      The home is the natural place for initiating a people into solidarity
       and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to
       avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten
       human societies.
      Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their
       children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their
       children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.
      Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the
       mysteries of the faith.
      Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s
       earliest years.
      Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and
       attention they devote to bringing up their children, providing for
       their physical and spiritual needs.

Parents today may find it difficult to fulfil their responsibilities to their
children for many reasons that may be beyond their control. For
example, many parents:
     cannot find work

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      cannot provide adequately for their children on one income, so that
       both are forced to work and neither can provide the kinds of
       relationships they would prefer with their children
      face work stresses in a competitive society which lead to stresses
       in their own relationships
      suffer the consequences of government economic policies and
       taxation which make quality family life more difficult to achieve.

Parents today may also find that their efforts to guide their children are
undermined by social trends and pressures. Their children are
confronted by attitudes and values which conflict with those their parents
are trying to offer. This happens before their children have even had the
chance to mature sufficiently to cope with these conflicting trends and
pressures. Sources of such conflict include:
    peers from families with different values
    different forms of media
    the example of some idols, who may appear successful, their lives
      are complicated by personal inner tension and conflict.

Jesus came to change society so that it could provide for human needs
as God intended. It is for Christians today to work together to overcome
the obstacles in society that make it difficult for parents to fulfil their
responsibilities towards their children.

Christian children fulfil their responsibilities towards their families

Children have family responsibilities. These increase with maturity. As
family responsibilities are accepted, children become more mature. They
develop in many ways emotionally and spiritually, as well as in their
identity and self-esteem.

Among the responsibilities of children to their parents are the following
[Catechism 2215-2219]:
    Respect for parents coming from gratitude towards those who, by
     the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children
     into the world.
    True acceptance and obedience.
    Obeying parents in all that they ask when it is for the good of the
     child or that of the family.
    As much as possible giving them material and moral support in old
     age and in times of illness, loneliness or distress.

Respecting parents promotes harmony in all of family life, in order to
respect parents children need also to have right relationships with their

Children must never violate the rights of parents to fulfil their
responsibilities as parents to younger brothers or sisters. While living at
home, children are called by God to support their parents. Parents have
the right to hand on their attitudes and values to their children. When
children leave home they are still required to respect their parents

The Fourth Commandment does not allow maturing children to
undermine their parents’ rights to be parents to younger children.

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Children can find it difficult to fulfil their responsibilities towards their
parents for many reasons. For example:
    many social attitudes are not supportive of the family as God
     created it. As a result, they discourage behaviours that strengthen
     the family such as spending time with family members, showing
     respect for parents and contributing to the atmosphere of the
    emphases on the individual and self-centredness discourage
     affection and consideration for other family members;
    children not live with both their natural parents can lead to
     confusion about how to relate with both parents;
    children may have experienced hurt as a result of the stresses of
     parent separation and divorce and feel angry towards at least one
    many become confused about family relationships when their
     parents marry again.

It is by trying to fulfil their family responsibilities that children will develop
many necessary relating skills. As a result, they will be successful when
their own time comes to establish a family.

Christians promote the rights of the family in society
There are many ways through which people can influence society.
People can influence society through the views they share with friends
or express in discussions and debates with others or by being involved
in organisations that influence society.

Christians accept promote the values and the rights of the family as God
intended. These are the rights to [Christian Family 46]:
   the freedom to form a family, have children and bring them up
    according to the parents’ moral and religious convictions;
   a stable marriage and family life;
   the freedom to profess their faith, to hand it on and to raise their
    children in it, with the help of the necessary means and institutions;
   private property, freedom of enterprise, freedom to obtain work,
    housing and to emigrate;
   according to the country’s institutions, medical care, assistance for
    the aged and family benefits;
   the protection of security and public health, especially with regard to
    such dangers as dangerous drugs, pornography and alcoholism;
   the freedom to form associations with other families and so to be
    represented to civil authority.

The role of family in society
Some people in society hold ideas contrary to promoting family and
family relationships as God intends. As a result, many consider God’s
teaching to be old-fashioned and undesirable. It is important to look at
the whole of society and to see whether ideas of the family different to
those of the Creator are fulfilling the human need for stability.

The Christian response
Jesus told his followers to teach his message ‘to all nations’ [Matthew
28:20]. They need to do so by example and words.

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Part of teaching all nations, demands that Christians do what they can to
help families to flourish as the Creator of the human family intends. This
means, for example, encouraging:
  governments to ensure that families have all that they need
  political parties to have ‘family-friendly’ policies
  media to provide family-oriented programmes and music
  those who influence social trends to promote the family ideals the
   Creator of human nature has taught to be necessary for healthy
   personality development
  other people to write and to protect in other ways against leaders,
   social heroes, media, and other promoters of ideas which undermine
   the family as God revealed it.

Christians promote the values of the Sixth and Ninth
God created people, male and female in the very beginning. In the first
of the Creation Stories, for example, we are taught that human nature
has been created in the image and likeness of God.

       male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:27]

Human sexuality, therefore, is essential to every human person. Each
gender has been created to reflect God equally, though in distinctive

A person’s sexuality, their ‘maleness’ or their ‘femaleness’, affects them
at their very core. It affects the ways a person thinks, feels and relates. It
is deeper than sexual feelings and is part of the heart of their

Human sexuality is so important to God that God has given firm
guidance. God’s purpose is to help people to avoid dominance by sexual
feelings in particular situations. This guidance allows them to function in
ways that reflect a healthy and mature sexuality.
God’s guidance on human sexuality is found in both the Old and New
Testaments of the Bible. It is summed up under the Sixth and Ninth
Commandments. These are:

       You shall not commit adultery.

       You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.

The wording of these Commandments highlights that human sexuality
can only be understood fully within the context of married love. These
Commandments protect values which have been revealed by God, such
  chastity
  the sacredness of the love between husband and wife
  responsible parenthood
  the sacredness of the conception of children
  the indissolubility of marriage
  respect for the human body.

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Christians promote chastity in society
Chastity basically means healthy sexuality. A healthy sexuality is one in
which a person’s sexual feelings have been integrated into his or her
personality. These feelings have been understood and directed so that
they never cause a person to behave in ways that are contrary to their
ideals, free will and sense of right and wrong.

        Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the
        person and thus the inner unity in his bodily and spiritual being.
        [CCC 2337]

Being faithful to God’s trust
As Creator, God has entrusted people with gifts. Part of this trust is that
they will use their gifts as intended. Sexuality is one of these gifts.

Chastity, therefore, also means being faithful to the trust placed in
people by God to not abuse their sexual gifts in ways different from how
God intends.

        The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life
        and love placed in him . [CCC 2338]

Chastity strengthens friendships
Sexual feelings attract people to the sexual attributes and appeal of
others. However, true friendship is based upon deeper and more secure
foundations. It remains in good times and in bad, in old age as well as
youth. It remains loyal even when others are critical and rejecting. While
acknowledging faults and weaknesses in each other, true friends see
beyond these to the good that is also within each other.

Outside marriage, sexual feelings strongly desire satisfaction, and are
inclined to self-centredness. True friendship is concerned with the good
of the other. It reflects to friends the faithfulness and love of God.

Chastity strengthens friendships, it helps people look beyond the sexual
and to see others as people. They can discover the deeper foundations
upon which true relationships can be built.

        Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbour.
        Whether it develops between (persons) of the same or opposite
        (gender), friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to
        spiritual communion. [CCC 2347]

The challenge of chastity
Chastity can be difficult to develop because there are many stimuli to
sexual feelings. Movies, media, video-clips, magazines and posters that
focus upon people’s sexual attributes, all make chastity more difficult.

In society there are many who consider it ‘normal’ to allow sexual
feelings to function in isolation from the rest of their personalities. As a
result, many immoral sexual activities are considered normal.

From earliest times, Christians have faced and overcome these
challenges. For example, St Paul stressed to the Christians in the city of

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       That is why you must kill everything in you that is earthly: sexual
       vice, impurity, uncontrolled passion… [Colossians 3:5]

Chastity then requires effort at every stage of life. Without chastity, a
person cannot have deep and lasting peace. To develop chastity a
person needs to develop self-mastery.

       Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a
       training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either (a
       person) governs (his or her) passions and find peace, or (he or
       she) lets (himself or herself) be dominated by them and become
       unhappy. [CCC 2339]

No one controlled by sexual feelings is truly free. If their sexual feelings
are allowed to develop lives of their own, and are not disciplined, people
lose the freedom to make conscious and free choices.

       (Human) dignity therefore requires (people) to act out of
       conscious and free choice,... and not by blind impulses in himself
       (or herself) or by mere external constraint. (Men and women)
       gain such dignity when, ridding (themselves) of all slavery to the
       passions…(and) freely choosing what is good. [CCC 2339]

Fruits of the Holy Spirit
All who relate with God are rewarded by guidance and inner strength
from the Holy Spirit. As believers respond to the Spirit, their lives bear
spiritual fruits., joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness,
       gentleness and self-control. [Galatians 5:22]

These fruits help people understand and direct their sexual feelings,
including those that lead to unchaste behaviour. They make it much
easier to develop chastity. This is why God teaches in the New
Testament that domination by personal sexual feelings is a problem
people tend to experience if they neglect worship and other religious

       Intellectually they are in the dark, and they are estranged from
       the life of God… Their sense of right and wrong once dulled, they
       have abandoned all self-control and pursue to excess every kind
       of uncleanness.

       Among you there must be not even a mention of sexual vice or
       impurity in any of its forms… For you can be quite certain that
       nobody who indulges in sexual immorality or impurity…can
       inherit the kingdom of God. [Ephesians 4:17-19 and 5:3, 5-6]

Promoting chastity
Christians promote chastity by trying to develop this gift. They:
    refuse to patronise films, media, posters and music that make
     chastity difficult for themselves and others
    do what they can to promote social trends and opinions that help
     people to live more chaste lives

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        encourage religious practices, including by their own example, to
         show others how to draw upon the inner spiritual resources the
         Creator offers for the development of personal chastity.

Discouraging unchaste habits and attitudes
Christians recognise that the Sixth and Ninth Commandments forbid
behaviours and attitudes that violate chastity. Some are explicitly
forbidden by God.

Fornication is sexual intercourse between unmarried people. As well as
being forbidden by God in the Old Testament in the Sixth
Commandment, pre-marital sex was referred to by Jesus as ‘evil’ [Mark
7:22]. It is listed among the serious sins in the New Testament [1
Corinthians 6:12-20].

Some suggest that the Church should change this teaching. The Church
has no power to change the Law of God. In the New Testament, God
reinforced forbidding pre-marital sex through inspired writings to people
who lived in societies which considered such behaviour as the norm.

God’s teaching on this matter is no less confronting to many people
today than it was thousands of years ago.

Those with a homosexual orientation are called by God to live chastely
as is everyone else.

Christians support the love between husband and wife
God reveals much about human nature in the two Creation Stories found
at the beginning of the Bible. One of the lessons revealed is that God
created the marriage relationship:
     to be a loving communion between wife and husband [Genesis
     for the procreation of children [Genesis 1:28].

Christians believe that married love is sacred. They value the love
between husband and wife for each other and the co-operation with God
for the conception of children.

Christians seek to support the love between married people in many
ways. For example, they:

   do what they can to help and encourage married people that they
    know, especially when a couple’s marriage is going through a difficult
   promote views and opinions supportive of marriage and family life
    among friends, associates, the media and any other forum they may
    have access to
   lobby governments to reform taxation laws and to establish support
    services so that marriage and family life are better supported
   refuse to patronise the work of people and organisations whose ideas
    fail to show respect for the love between a husband and wife
   provide support to give married couples time together, such as,
    minding children or sick or elderly parents that they may be caring for).

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Young people seek to develop their own potential for married love by
learning to discipline their sexual feelings and develop chastity.

Married love is sacred
God wishes people to experience the full potential of their sexuality. This
is why God has:
 revealed the purpose of intercourse
 forbidden sexual union outside marriage.

Some suggest that these ideas are ‘old-fashioned’. However, what they
are overlooking is that the permanent truth in these ideas stems from
human nature, of which sexuality is an essential part. Human nature
itself is timeless, and so are the ways people need to live their sexuality.

Most of all, they are failing to respect the commands of their Creator and
abusing the trust that God has placed in every human being as a sign of

Christians recognise that God has forbidden specific behaviours that
violate the love between husbands and wives. They realise too that often
people engage in such actions for reasons ranging from sexual desires
to personal stresses, and seek to work against the social influences that
can stir such feelings and cause such pressures.

This does not mean that people are not responsible for their choices.
Only that society should not contribute to them making choices that
violate God’s law.

Adultery is forbidden in the Sixth Commandment, as well as by Jesus
[Matthew 5:27-28] and the New Testament scriptures [e.g. Galatians
5:19; 1 Corinthians 6:12-30; Romans 1:27; Colossians 3:5; 1
Thessalonians 4:3-6].

People marry for life.
People marry for life. God forbids them from remarrying, therefore, while
their marriage partner lives. Jesus taught that this is the same as

       Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife — I am not
       speaking of an illicit marriage — and marries another, is guilty of
       adultery. [Matthew 19:9]:

In teaching this, Jesus was going against not only what was commonly
accepted practice in the Roman Empire, but what was generally
accepted by religious Jewish people.

There are many reasons why people who separate and divorce. People
outside the marriage cannot make judgements about the reasons.

Many marriages break down because the couple involved cannot
sustain economic and social pressures. All who contribute to these
pressures, public policy-makers, economic planners, media decision
makers can bear some of the responsibility. However, leaving aside
possible reasons why, divorce in itself is evil because it is contrary to
God’s intention.

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       Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the
       family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the
       deserted spouse, to children traumatised by the separation of
       their parents and often torn between them, and because of its
       contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society. [CCC

Divorced people who do not re-marry are able to participate fully in the
life of the Church. They are able also to receive Holy Communion.
People who suggest that divorced people cannot receive Holy
Communion are mistaken.

Catholics promote responsible parenthood
The vocation of Christian marriage includes cooperating with God in the
conception of children. Cooperation demands thought and decision. It
cannot be given automatically. It needs to be responsible.

So the vocation of Christian marriage includes the responsibility to make
decisions about the conception of children. Because both husband and
wife share this vocation equally, these decisions must be mutual.

Mutual responsibility for implementation
As the vocation of marriage calls for mutual decision, it calls also for
mutual implementation of any decision. Where decisions about family
planning are not mutual, an inequality is introduced into the marriage

This inequality between husband and wife, can gradually affect their
attitudes to each other and their marriage bond. It could perhaps weaken
it to the extent that it leads to conflict, infidelity and divorce.

Artificial birth control has become more readily available. Family Law
regarding divorce has changed so that its ‘ease of access’ has meant a
significant rise in divorce rates. While society may argue the benefits of
these, the tragic irony is that domestic violence still remains an acute
social problem today.

Four moral considerations towards a mutual decision
For a family planning decision to be morally right, the action, intention,
circumstances and consequences must be right. The Catholic Church
offers four considerations to married couples working these out from a
moral perspective. These are the responsibilities of the couple to:
 God
 each other
 their children
 society in general.

Responsibilities towards God
The first consideration married couples should take into account is their
responsibilities to God, the Creator who has entrusted to them their
procreation powers. Before God, they should remember that sexual
intercourse in marriage:
 is a means of glorifying God to the extent that it expresses love and
  lifelong commitment between husband and wife

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   is a natural act designed by the Creator
   should never be abused thoughtlessly simply to gratify sexual urges
    separate from the act of married love: as a means of relieving anger or
    frustration; to dominate; or to treat husband or wife as a sex object
   should never be demanded without due regard for the physical or
    psychological health and well being of the spouse, or when under the
    influence of alcohol and drugs.

Married couples are bound to use their sexual life-giving powers only in
the ways the Creator intends. To have a power does not bring with it the
right to use this power in any way that people wish.

Responsibilities towards each other
The second consideration should be the responsibilities of each spouse
towards the other. Each is responsible for the well being of the other, as
well as for continuing to contribute to their marriage relationship.

This is a ‘person-oriented’ responsibility, reflecting genuine concern for
the well being of the other spouse. It includes considerations such as:
 emotional readiness
 health
 the ability to cope
 stress from financial pressures.

These may be related to settling into a marriage relationship or coping
with a number of small children. Also, there may be difficulties because
of such factors as a child needing special attention, increasing mortgage
rates or fear of unemployment.

For a variety of legitimate reasons, one spouse may be unable to
provide the support needed by the other in caring for a new child.

Family planning consideration does not include purely materialistic
concerns. For example, the desire to accumulate luxuries is not a valid
reason for not having a child. Values that reflect a priority of comfort and
material ambitions over people tend to reflect self-centredness. This
does not enhance a marriage relationship, even if this self-centredness
is supported by mutual agreement.

If such considerations as emotional readiness and the ability to cope are
long-term, the couple may find it helpful to seek counselling from
someone who supports the Christian notion of marriage.

If one spouse would find it hard to cope with a child for reasons related
to physical or psychological health, anxiety or the demands a child
brings, particularly if there are other children, the responsible decision
may be not to have another child. However, such a decision needs to be
mutual and honest.

Responsibilities towards their children
The third consideration should be the spouses’ responsibilities towards
children they already have. Parents are obliged to provide what is
essential for their children, shelter, nourishment, basic education, health
care. They are obliged to love and care for them, and provide for special

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Sometimes this means it would not be responsible to have another child.
For example, care for an additional child may mean less than necessary
care for a chronically sick or disabled child. The basic concern
underlying this family planning consideration is that parents provide for
the genuine needs of children they already have. If an additional child
would endanger the fulfilment of their duties in this respect, they should
consider whether it is responsible to have an additional child.

Responsibilities towards society
The fourth consideration is the responsibilities married people have
towards the needs of society. Currently, when so many ignore their
social responsibilities, this consideration may be harder to accept.

Parenthood decisions have social consequences. On the one hand,
fewer children may lead to unreasonable pressures and demands being
placed upon future generations. On the other hand, some societies do
not have the resources to fulfil their responsibilities towards children,
particularly in health and education.

All four considerations needed in each decision
In Catholic teaching, all four considerations need to be taken account in
every parenthood decision.

The responsible decision may be not to have a child for a period of time,
or until the difficulties have been resolved.

Family planning and world population
Some people question the responsibility of having more children
because of the size of the world’s population. This issue needs to be
considered carefully.

For some, the world population ‘problem’ may reflect more their unease
at sharing their surplus wealth with others than a concern for sufficient
resources for all.

Equitable resource distribution and less exploitation of resources are the
real just solutions. Feeding the world is very much an issue of a more
equitable standard of living for all.

Countries with a high standard of living have their own population
‘problem’. Rather than having too many people, they have too few. They
experience what is called ‘zero population growth’. As a result, they have
an ageing population that is becoming increasingly dependent upon a
shrinking ‘working’ population.

The solution, then, to both these problems lies in applying the principles
of Social Justice.

Catholics promote respect for the sacredness of human conception
Various teachings of God reveal that human life is sacred. So is its

God makes it possible for husbands and wives to conceive human life.
They are the sources of everything their children inherit. They have also

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the uniqueness and individuality which God gives when creating within
each person a soul.

For a range of reasons, many married couples may find themselves
unable to conceive a child. Not having a child in no way lessens the
quality of the marriage relationship between a couple or their dignity as

Moral principles related to medical procedures to achieve human
Advances in medical technology have created new possibilities for
childless married couples who would like children. The sacredness of
human conception means that moral principles have to be considered.

One: God is the Creator of human life
God is the ultimate source of human life and the human capacity to
procreate this life. Life ultimately is a gift of God.

Morally speaking, people are bound to respect and to use the powers of
human conception as God intends. These powers have been entrusted
to people by the Creator, but cannot be used in ways contrary to God’s

God does not intend human conception to occur outside the context of
married love.

Two: God alone has dominion over human life
As Creator, God alone has the right to decide when human life should
begin or end. No human being has the right to ‘play God’ in this regard.

God has chosen to exercise this decision by creating people as physical
beings with powers to conceive. God has given clear laws to be
observed by all. For example, God forbids the taking of human life
(murder, abortion) or the use of sexual powers outside marriage (pre-
marital sex, adultery).

No one can usurp God’s dominion over human life. They cannot make
deliberate decisions to begin life in ways contrary to God’s intention. To
do so is morally wrong.

Three: God intends the procreation of a new person to be the fruit
of married love
Though people are capable of conceiving children outside this
relationship or in other ways, in all cases this is in violation of God’s
intention and, therefore, is morally wrong.

Four: God intends conception to be a mutual decision by husband
and wife
Third parties should have no part in the direct implementation of such a
decision. Yet third parties do so today whenever they decide to use
procedures which will lead to a child being conceived through the use of
medical technology.

Five: Every child has the right to be conceived in love

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Conception through love is the foundation of the parent-child
relationship. Every child has the right to be conceived in love, carried in
the womb, born into the world and brought up within a marriage

Six: An unborn child is a human person
A human life is conceived. It can become nothing else. Conception is the
beginning of a person’s life. He or she will continue to develop from
there until death.

The child conceived can never be considered a ‘thing’, or a mere
complex of tissues, organs and functions. This would reduce the
individual at conception to simply what can be seen. At no stage of our
life are people only what others can see.

The person conceived has the right to the same dignity and respect as
people who are born. He or she is equal to everyone else, even before
birth. This right does not begin or end at any particular stage of

It is given by God from the beginning. No human authority can take this
right away.

Seven: No one has the right to a child
As Creator, God alone has the right to decide how human life should
begin and end. Human life only begins because God creates people with
the capacity to conceive.

No one has the right to conceive a human life in ways contrary to the
Creator’s will. Nor does anyone have the right to a child to meet
personal needs.

No child is an object; nor can a child be a possession. Ultimately, every
child is a gift of God.

Eight: Power does not give rights
People have the power to do many things but no one has the right to use
their power as they like. Though they may have the power to conceive
human life, intervene in the development of a newly conceived person
and experiment with it, people do not have the right to do so in ways
contrary to the Creator’s intention.

After years of deliberation, based upon these principles and their
application to medical technology, the Teaching Authority (Magisterium)
of the Catholic Church has concluded that:

       any technology that facilitates the fulfilment of the purposes of
       sexual intercourse between marriage spouses (including the
       conception of children) is morally good;

       technological procedures which seek to replace sexual
       intercourse between marriage spouses for the conception of
       human life are morally wrong.
       [Human Life 2]

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The morality of technological procedures
There are many technological procedures in the field of human
reproduction. The morality of each needs to be considered from the
perspective of the actions involved.

In vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Programmes
In-vitro fertilisation results in children being conceived in ways totally
unrelated to the expression of married love through natural sexual
intercourse between husband and wife. As such, these actions violate
several moral principles and so are morally wrong. The child conceived
is the product of laboratory techniques rather than an expression of
human love.

Killing IVF Embryos
Not all embryos conceived in vitro are brought to existence. The
remaining ones are either destroyed or denied safe means of survival.
This is abortion, a violation of the Fifth Commandment and a violation of
the sixth moral principle outlined above.

Research on IVF Embryos
Research on IVF Embryos violates several moral principles, but
particularly the fifth, seventh and eighth moral principles.

Artificial Insemination
Artificial Insemination takes place independently of marital intercourse,
this procedure is contrary to the Creator’s intention, and so is morally

Surrogacy involves a woman bearing a child of another couple or one
conceived through artificial insemination with the semen of a man other
than her husband.

It violates several moral principles, including those outlined above.

Many supporters of IVF imply that the Catholic Church lacks compassion
towards childless couples in its teaching that IVF procedures are morally
wrong. To the contrary, the Church encourages morally acceptable
methods of helping childless couples and points out the obligation on
medical scientists to research newer and more effective ones.

Promoting respect for the conception of human life
Promoting respect for the conception of human life takes many forms.
One is the promotion of the principles explained above. There are three
others that are particularly important.

      to advise married couples having difficulty in conceiving a child of
       services where they can seek medical assistance that respects
       moral principles.

      to do whatever is possible to encourage governments and
       political parties to support research into moral methods of
       assisting couples having difficulty in conceiving children.

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      to protest about any medical experiments that abuse the process
       of conception or involve many of the other bioethical and
       scientific abuses.

God offers guidance on methods of family planning
Modern technology has produced many benefits for humanity. However,
the benefits of some technologies are less clear, and followers of Jesus
need to discern their use.

God reveals a number of moral principles to inform a couple in their
discernment, namely that:
   responsibility for decisions between husband and wife, as well as for
    their implementation, should be mutual;
   all must respect the functions of their bodies, for these were created
    by God;
   sexual intercourse should always be open to the purposes for which
    God created human sexual gifts (i.e. love-giving and potentially life-
    giving); the human right to sexual intercourse is limited by the
    intentions of the Creator;
   the purposes of sexual intercourse relate to those of marriage;
   chemical and technological products should not be introduced into
    the human body, except for medical purposes.

As married people respect these principles when implementing family
planning decisions, the influence of the Holy Spirit deepens in their
marriage bond and their love is strengthened.

Contraception violates God’s intention
Sexual intercourse should always be love-giving and open to the
conception of life. God’s intention is revealed unambiguously through
created human nature.

Contraception interferes with the simultaneously released life-giving
forces that are part of the action of expressing married communion
through sexual intercourse. They separate the two dimensions of this
action in ways the Creator does not intend. Catholic belief is that this is
wrong. Some methods of contraception do so directly, others indirectly.
Some methods of contraception actually cause an abortion after a
human life has been conceived.

Contraception can lead to many consequences that can adversely affect
a marriage relationship. The couple may come to reduce sexual
intercourse solely to the level of physiological pleasure and forget its
meaning as a special expression of marriage communion. They may find
it more difficult to achieve the greater maturity of communication needed
for their marriage to develop towards its potential.

Natural family planning methods do not frustrate God’s intention
Methods for implementing natural and responsible family planning are
referred to as natural family planning. There are different methods

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Natural methods of family planning in no way frustrate the normal
functioning of human sexual gifts. Respectful of the Creator’s will and
intention, these methods are morally good.

Natural family planning methods demand mutual commitment and
responsibility. This is an important difference between natural family
planning and artificial methods of birth control. The mutuality of natural
methods means that they never weaken the marriage relationship.
Rather, they strengthen it.

The body expresses the person
The body is the means people use to express the person within both
verbally and non-verbally.

A person’s body should be viewed and treated with respect because the
person is entitled to be seen and treated with respect. This means that
people need to look beyond people’s appearances, be they attractive or
not. They need to try to relate with the person, to know them and to see
beyond his or her body.

Created in the image and likeness of God
Every human person is created in God’s image and likeness. Every
person, therefore, has the potential to reflect God to others.

The body is the means God intends for people to do so. Words, actions
and expressions should express the potential to love, to forgive, to be
compassionate and just and to reflect all the other attributes of God.
Understood in this way:

       let us perceive the human body… as a manifestation of divine
       beauty. [CCC 2519]

This idea can be grasped if people acknowledge the ways that love or
compassion is expressed love to others in ways other than words.

The means for expressing married love
God created male and female bodies so that husbands and wives can
express their married love to each other. Their act of physical union
potentially is both love-giving and life-giving, expressing the two aspects
of married love.

       Spouses mutually express their personal love in the ‘language of
       the body’, which clearly involves both ‘spousal meanings’ and
       parental ones.

       (Sexual intercourse) by which the couple mutually express their
       self-gift, at the same time expresses openness to the gift of life. It
       is an act that is inseparably corporeal and spiritual. [Human Life
       II B 4 (b)]

It is in their bodies and through their bodies that the spouses
consummate their marriage and are able to become father and mother.

God revealed in the Bible that when couples marry, their bodies are part
of the gift they give of themselves to each other. As a result, after they

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marry, they cannot use their bodies in ways that ignore the rights of their

       The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the
       husband does; and in the same way, the husband does not have
       the authority over his own body, but the wife does. [1 Corinthians

The virtue of modesty

       To give the respect that is due to a person’s body, the virtue of
       modesty needs to be developed. This is the virtue of seeing
       others as people, and not as ‘sex objects’. It seeks also to help
       them to see us in this way. Modesty keeps trying to see the
       person in the other [Catechism 2522]:

Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love.
How modesty should be practised differs from one culture to another.

       It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve
       where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. [Catechism

Contrary social trends
Many today lack respect for others, and for their bodies. This is shown in
such behaviours as:
  viewing sexually explicit media
  media exploitation of the body (for example, in advertisements)
  wearing clothing that accentuates sexual attributes
  watching pornographic films and reading pornographic magazines or

The exploitation of people’s bodies in these ways, whether they agree to
it or not, violates their personal dignity.

People who abuse others in these ways have no interest in them as
human beings. They are insensitive to the interests, hopes and hurts
and are contributing to their exploitation.

Without a market, those who exploit others for money would have no
motive to do so. So all who contribute to this market in any way
contribute to the abuse of the victims of sexual exploitation in its many

Christians promote respect for the human body
Followers of Christ are called to promote respect for the human body by
promoting respect for every individual as a human person. This includes
encouraging where they can the practice of modesty.

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              THE CHURCH

This chapter presents the following key understandings and
learning points

Key Understanding 6
The Holy Spirit guides and empowers the Church in its mission to
proclaim Jesus Christ to the world

6.1 The Tradition of the Church reflects the guiding work of the

6.2 Christians draw upon the guiding power of the Spirit

6.3 The Spirit draws believers together into Communion

6.4 Mary as Mother of the Church supports the Church in its

Key Understanding 7
The mission of the Church is expressed in the work of the Second
Vatican Council

7.1 The Second Vatican Council provides guidance for how the
Church lives its mission in contemporary society

7.2 The Church today continues to reflect upon its mission in the
light of its Tradition

7.3 The mission of the Church is realised in the work of Christians

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Key Understanding 6
The Holy Spirit guides and empowers the Church in its mission to
proclaim Jesus Christ to the world

6.1 The Tradition of the Church reflects the guiding work of the
Tradition refers to the liturgies, teachings and commands of Jesus that
were handed on by the Apostles. Tradition is also referred to as the
unwritten Word of God. The Sacraments, the Creeds and the moral
teachings of Jesus are all examples of Tradition.

Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church as each
generation accepts these and hands them on to the next. As each
generation does so, it grows in its understanding of the liturgies,
teachings and commands of Jesus under the Spirit’s guidance.

This understanding of Tradition is different from devotional practices and
other religious ‘traditions’. These grow and fade over time and vary from
culture to culture.

The Holy Spirit inspired human authors to write down the total teachings
or Gospel of Jesus which continues to be handed down from the
Apostles through Tradition.

Of the total teachings or Gospel of Jesus, four books of the New
Testament are specifically called ‘the Gospels’. The basic purpose of
these books is to answer the question ‘Who is Jesus?’

The limit of the Magisterium
Jesus gave Peter and the Apostles the spiritual gifts or powers to act in
the person of Christ. As they used them, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus
would safeguard his Church’s understanding and practice of Tradition
and the Scriptures in every generation and culture. Through the
Sacrament of Holy Orders, Peter and the Apostles handed on these gifts
as Jesus intended.

Through these gifts the Pope and bishops can interpret Tradition and the
Scriptures authentically. However, neither the Pope nor the bishops can
attempt to their gifts in ways that conflict with the intention of Jesus any
more than could Peter and the Apostles.

Jesus chose men to act in the person of Christ
Jesus was born into a culture which went back two thousand years.
From when God called Abraham to father a people who would become
God’s people [Genesis 12:1-4].

Over the centuries Abraham, God gradually shaped the identity and
religious understanding of this people. The people were not always
responsive to God. As a result, there were aspects of their culture that
reflected human weaknesses rather than the influence of God.

Jesus, the Son of God, challenged aspects of the culture of his time that
did not reflect the influence of God. Using his authority, he changed
some drastically. For some, the challenge of Jesus to some aspects of

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the cultural trends of his time was too great. As a result, they sought to
kill him.

One aspect of the culture that Jesus challenged was its understandings
about women. Jesus included women among his disciples when the
prevailing cultural practice was that only males should be taught by a
religious Master [Luke 8:2-3; 10:38-42]:
   women were charged to tell the Apostles about the Resurrection
    when, culturally, men should have been relating this message to
    women [Mark 16:7];
   Jesus commanded that men could not divorce their wives to remarry
    when it was believed culturally that they had the right to do so [Mark
   he demanded that husbands love their wives in ways that required
    self-sacrifice ‘just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself
    for her’ when culturally men merely were expected to provide for their
    wives basic needs [Ephesians 5:25]
   he taught that ‘the husband does not have authority over his body,
    but the wife does’ and vice versa, when, culturally
   women were seen more as possessions of their husbands, and not
    vice versa [1 Corinthians 7:4].

Though prepared to challenge the culture of his time that conflicted with
God’s intention, Jesus chose deliberately from among his disciples men
as his Twelve Apostles. He did so after ‘he spent the whole night in
prayer to God’ [Luke 6:12].

Jesus made his intention clear at the Last Supper when he instituted
both the Sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.

Jesus knew all that he came to reveal [Catechism 474]. He knew which
aspects of his culture God wanted changed.

Jesus gave the Magisterium the authority to ordain men
Like Peter and the Apostles, the Pope and bishops have the spiritual
powers to act in the person of Christ.

The Pope and bishops can only make changes to the ways the
Sacraments are celebrated to help people to understand better what
Christ is doing. They cannot change the Sacraments themselves.

In the Catechism it states sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will
       of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in
       the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the
       obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of
       the liturgy. [CCC 1125]

The teachings of Jesus that are preserved by the Holy Spirit in Tradition
and the Scriptures are infallible. The Holy Spirit has guided the
Magisterium since the time of the Apostles in its understanding of
Tradition and the Scriptures that the Sacrament of Holy Orders is to be
conferred upon men.

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Remembering the limitation on the powers of the Magisterium, Pope
John Paul II declared in 1994

       in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren [Luke 22:32], I
       declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer
       priestly ordination on women, and that this judgement is to be
       definitively held by all the Church’s faithful. [Priestly Ordination 4]

Since the time of the Apostles, the Church has recognised that only men
who have received a calling to serve by acting in the person of Christ
can be ordained. The early Church prayed for guidance in selecting the
successor to Judas as an Apostle [Acts 1:2326]. The Church today takes
several years before deciding whether someone who wants to be a
priest has the necessary calling.

Pastoral issues for some Catholics in western cultures
Different cultures have different understandings of human nature and
human dignity and rights. In modern western cultures, there are aspects
which differ from those revealed by God. Some have interpreted the
restriction of the Sacraments of Holy Orders to men as being
unfavourable to women. This has led to many questions and

Was Jesus influenced by his culture?
There is no question that, being fully human, Jesus was influenced by
his culture. While affected by his culture, Jesus was also the Son of
God. In his human understanding, he knew all that he had come to teach
and to do:

       ...Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of
       understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. [CCC

Jesus and women
God values every individual. Females and males equally reflect God
[Genesis 1:27]. Though there are some roles and functions that are
different both are of equal dignity. Males and females are loved equally
by God.

Christians are called to challenge cultural ideas that differ from God’s
teachings. They need to promote the value of every human being
because each is loved by God equally.

In modern culture, many people feel they are less valued and less equal
unless they have opportunities to share the same functions and roles as
everyone else. This leads to the mistaken idea that because women
cannot perform the functions and roles of priesthood, women are inferior
in the Catholic Church.

Jesus held up Mary, his mother, as the model Christian disciple [Luke
8:21]. Even though, he did not call her to act in the person of Christ.

The call of the Twelve Apostles by Jesus was deliberate, as has been
the understanding of Tradition and the Magisterium that the Sacrament
of Holy Orders can be conferred only upon males.

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6.2 Christians draw upon the guiding power of the Spirit

Discernment and the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit guides people through discernment, the process by
which people make decisions based on the fruits of the holy spirit,
charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity,
gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.

People need to recognise the movement of the Spirit in their own life, in
the life of their community and in the world so that they may be
transformed both individually and in transforming society.

Discernment through the Holy Spirit is different from the way people
make decisions in society. It is not based on personal gratification or
happiness but a challenge to grow as followers of Christ.

Discernment consistent with God’s revelation
Discernment must always be consistent with what God has revealed
through Scripture and through the Church. The scriptural basis for
discernment can be found in Galatians 5:16-24. St Paul tells the early
Christians that following the will of the spirit leads to holiness.

It is through the process of discernment that people are guided by the
Spirit to work out what they will do with their lives.

Practices for Cultivating Discernment
Praying and listening to Scripture privately and in community help
people grow in awareness of how the Holy Spirit is moving in them.

An important practice that helps people to grow in the awareness of how
God’s Spirit is moving and working in their lives is Ignatian Spirituality.
This spirituality is based on the experiences of Ignatius Loyola (1491–
1556), a Basque aristocrat whose conversion began while he was
recovering from war wounds. Ignatius founded the Religious Order of
Jesuits. He developed insights into spiritual life as part of his spiritual
journey. Ignatius Loyola devoted much of his life to helping others
deepen their relationship with God.

Ignatian spirituality is based on the lives of people in a practical
spirituality. It encourages people to conduct what is called the “Daily
Consciousness Examen”. The following are a guide to for an Examen of
    1. Asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit .
    2. Looking back over the day and noticing the gifts and blessings of
        God through the day, in a spirit of thankfulness.
    3. Asking Jesus for guidance to hear his voice better. Reflecting
        back over the day and looking at it with Jesus.
    4. Asking questions like: Was I acting as the Lord would have
        wanted me to act? What moved me to act in that way? What
        were my feelings? What was the first feeling that moved me to
        speak or act in that way? Where did that feeling come from? Is
        there anything in this event that might point to my need for

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      healing? What will help me the next time I encounter a similar
   5. Concluding with praise and thanksgiving, focusing on the
      goodness of God.

If people practise discernment, when the time comes for decisions to be
made about their lives such as the vocation they are called to live, they
are already familiar with the ways that God communicates with, leads
and guides people.

St Paul in his prayer to the Philippians recognised the importance of

       it is my prayer that your love for one another may grow more and
       more with the knowledge and complete understanding
       that will help you to come to true discernment, so that you will be
       innocent and free of any trace of guilt when the Day of Christ
        entirely filled with the fruits of uprightness through Jesus Christ,
       for the glory and praise of God.
       (Phil 1:9-11).

In this way the Church reveals itself as a people whose unity has its
source in the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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6.3 The Spirit draws believers together into Communion

Christians accept re-creation by participating in the Church as

The teachings of God from the Fourth, Sixth and Ninth Commandments
are not always easy to accept or to live.

Jesus experienced rejection by those who were unhappy with his words
and actions. People walked away from him.

       After hearing (what he taught), many of his followers said, ‘This is
       intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’

       After this, many of his disciples went away and accompanied him
       no more.
       [John 6:60 and 66]

Eventually, Jesus was killed to silence both him and his followers.

To help them remain faithful to his mission, to change the world for the
better by promoting the values of God, Jesus instituted his Church
[Catechism 763-766]. He gave it the Holy Spirit to strengthen all who
belonged to it. As they drew upon the Spirit’s strength, they would be
able to resist social and other pressures against promoting his

With this Spirit, Jesus gave his followers special spiritual gifts. Believers
celebrate these by remembering that the Church Jesus instituted is a

The word ‘union’ is common in the English language. It means oneness
between people. However, the word ‘communion’ is not so common. A
basic difference between communion and union is that communion
refers to a deeper, spiritual oneness. This spiritual oneness, if it grows,
influences people’s thoughts and feelings so that they become
increasingly one.

The Spirit received at Pentecost
After his resurrection, the followers of Jesus were still tentative. They
experienced doubts, fears and anxiety. He told them to remain together:

       ...until you are clothed with the power from on high. [Luke 24:49]

This power was the Holy Spirit, who came upon the Apostles at
Pentecost [Acts 2:1-13]. The effect of the Spirit upon them was dramatic.
They began preaching and living boldly the Christian message.

Christians receive the Holy Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation. As
well as strengthening them as the Apostles were strengthened, the role
of the Spirit is to draw believers together. The Spirit stirs their thoughts
and feelings so that they become increasingly united in the ideals and
values they uphold and in the worship they share. They are drawn closer
to Jesus and each other as a Communion.

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The Church is a Communion because of the spiritual unity that exists
between Jesus and all who belong to it. By being united with Jesus, all
who belong to his Church share special spiritual gifts.

The Church a Communion of believers
Jesus came to change human society so that it becomes a better
reflection of its Creator. Jesus called all who belong to his Church to
continue his mission [Matthew 28:20]. Their task is to lead others to God
and to help change their society. To play their part in the mission of
Christ to the world today, the followers of Jesus need to be a community
of believers in order to:
      change society for the better or help those in need as did Jesus
      challenge each other to live the Christian life

Christianity if lived fully is socially confronting. It is not difficult to identify
Christian teachings that go against social trends. Christians have always
needed Christ and the support and encouragement of each other.

Christians can change society for the better and help those in need by
working for and supporting the many services and organisations within
the Church that support the aged, the sick, education and many other
areas of human need. There are many voluntary organisations and
groups in parishes that Christians can support.

In order to be a true communion of believers and understand how they
can better reflect God, Catholics need to gather with Jesus in the
Eucharist and join parish organisations for spiritual and other forms of
practical solidarity.

The importance of community worship
There are those who say that they have no need for the Church. They
can relate with God just as well in their own ways, and often claim they
feel closer to God when alone than in community worship.

To evaluate worship or other Church community experiences at the level
of feelings will lead to mistakes about the quality of a person’s
experiences and true relationship with God.

The faith Jesus offers is a community faith. The individual receives
spiritual nourishment from God through the community, regardless of its
human faults and limitations. So while people may ‘feel close’ to God
outside the Church, they will not fully experience the degree of
relationship that God offers.

In a society that places so much emphasis on the individual, it can be
hard to appreciate the importance Jesus placed on the community
nature of Christian faith. It is important to pray for faith, remembering
that Jesus:
   gathered disciples, forming them into his Church [Matthew 16:18]
   used group images when speaking of his followers, such as a ‘flock’
    [John 10:14-16] and the branches of a vine [John 15:1-8]
   prayed for the unity of his followers so that others would believe it
    was he who had sent them [John 17:23].

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Union with Christ
Jesus promised to be with his followers always [Matthew 28:20]. Not
only would he be with them, he would be in them. For example, in the
words of John’s Gospel:

       I am the vine,
       you are the branches.
       Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty...
       With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in
       that the world will recognise that it was you who sent me.
       [John 15:5; 17:23]

Jesus promised that his followers would experience the effects of his
presence whenever they gathered together. An individual relationship
with God was not his intention:

       ‘For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among
       [Matthew 18:20]

The Church shares spiritual gifts
Jesus shares the Holy Spirit with all who belong to his Church. As a
result, they share other spiritual gifts as well. They share [Catechism
   Christian faith, the gift given by God through Baptism. This gift
    makes it possible for people to relate intimately with their Creator;
   the seven Sacraments, the means Jesus instituted for believers to
    relate intimately with God. The greatest of these is the Eucharist;
   the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These spiritual gifts provide believers with
    the guidance and strength they need to play their roles in the Church,
    be they lay, priest or religious;
   charity, or the spiritual gift of being able to love God and others for
    God’s sake. This purer form of love makes it possible for people to
    relate with God in a greater intimacy than could be achieved through
    human love alone.

The Communion of Saints
At the Last Supper, Jesus promised to ‘make a home’ within his
followers [John 14:23]. This promise is fulfilled through Baptism. All
those within whom Christ has made ‘a home’ belong to the Church as
Communion. They are referred to as the ‘Communion of Saints’.

The Communion of Saints share not only Christ but the other spiritual
gifts Christ gives. The Church includes those who live today and those
who have died. Belief in the Communion of Saints is proclaimed in the
Creed every Sunday, and has been proclaimed whenever the Creed
was said since the earliest Christian centuries.

Those in heaven
Those who are in heaven are more closely united with Jesus than those
who have not yet died. As a result, their prayers are more powerful.

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Members of the Church who have died, and who are now in heaven,
remain committed to the mission of Christ. They pray for the Church that
remains in the world, that:
   all who belong to it will experience closer intimacy with God and be
    strengthened spiritually to live the Christian faith
   the Church’s mission and works will continue.

Mary the Mother of Jesus
In heaven is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Assumed body and soul into
heaven, her prayers are more powerful than those of other human
beings because of her special relationship with Jesus, her son, who is
also the Son of God.

Believers realise that Jesus intends them to pray to Mary, asking her to
intercede on their behalf to him for their needs.

Those in purgatory
Those experiencing purgatory have lived lives that showed they
accepted God’s wish that they spend eternity in heaven. They are not
yet free of weaknesses and past faults. As a result, they are not ready to
relate fully with God who is love and goodness. They are being freed by
God from such things as selfishness, resentments, unjust attitudes and
tendencies and past venial sins.

Christ is still with them. Their union with him is greater than when they
were alive, and their prayers grow more powerful as they are purified
from their weaknesses and past sins. These people pray for the Church
in the world and for all who belong to it.

The living
All who are baptised belong to the Church equally. Their union with
Christ is not as great as the union between Christ and those who are
now in heaven because of the weaknesses and attitudes that hamper
them from living as Christ called. Selfishness and other human
weaknesses have a much greater influence over their lives.

Church members can pray for help to Mary, to those in heaven and to
those in purgatory. Being more united with Christ they can pray more
powerfully to God on behalf of their fellow Church members in this world.

The living can pray on behalf of those in purgatory. This is why they are
prayed for:
   in the Eucharistic Prayer during every Mass
   in Masses for the Dead
   during the month of November
   especially on the Feast of All Souls (2 November).

It is important to pray for those experiencing purgatory and to pray to
God for the dead

       … so that they might be released from their sins. [2 Maccabees

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The signs of Communion
The Church as Communion is not simply a spiritual concept. It is also a
visible one, for it can be seen in the lives of people as they:
   relate with God as Jesus taught
   live daily the full Christian message
   keep on struggling to live those aspects of the Christian message
    that are difficult.

Preaching of the Apostles
Jesus gave the Christian message to his Apostles. It was their mission
to hand it on to others, along with the spiritual gifts needed to preserve
its authenticity.

Communion through worship especially the Sacraments
The Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, were instituted by Christ
himself as the best means towards oneness with God [Catechism 1114].

The Eucharist expresses most completely the Church’s Communion.
This is because, during the Eucharist, all united with Christ join in his
prayer and worship of God the Father.

Belonging to the Church as Communion includes worshipping God with
others in experiences of worship such as Liturgies of the Word and the
various forms of communal prayer.

Accepting the Church’s communion
Christ intended that the Apostles hand on their spiritual powers to others
through what is known as the Sacrament of Holy Orders

       The sacrament of Holy Orders communicates a ‘sacred power’
       which is none other than that of Christ [Catechism 1551]

Catholics seek the power Christ exercises through the bishops and
priests of the Church. By:
   receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist
   seeking the forgiveness of their sins through Penance
   seeking Christ’s special help for the sick and the frail through the
    Sacrament of Anointing.

They show they belong to the Church’s communion by accepting the
leadership and teaching authority of the successors of the Apostles.

Experiences of the Church as Communion
There can be many experiences of the Church as Communion. The
three most basic are those of:
 the Christian family
 the parish
 the diocese.
The word ‘Church’ refers to people gathered by God. The Christian
family is the first place where people can experience Christ who is
present wherever ‘two or three gather’ in his name [Matthew 18:20].

This is why the Christian family is referred to as ‘the domestic Church’
[Church Constitution 11].

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The parish is a stable community of believers who gather together to
celebrate the Eucharist. To the extent that its members are truly
responsive to Christ, the parish comes to life. Through its activities and
organisations, it brings Christ’s mission to life and deepens in faith.

The diocese is a larger community comprising all the parishes that are
under the pastoral care of a bishop as a successor of the Apostles.

Experiences of the Spirit drawing into Communion
The Holy Spirit acts gently in people. Thoughts are stirred and feelings
gently moved. There are many examples of the Spirit drawing believers
into the Church as Communion. The extent to which they have these
experiences depends upon their responsiveness to the Spirit, especially
through their efforts to live sincerely the Christian life.

Examples are:
 desiring to grow closer to Jesus
 wanting to live as God intends
 feeling drawn to contribute to levels of the Church as Communion.

Drawing closer to the Person of Jesus
Many people show that they are inspired to draw closer to Jesus through
   prayer
   participation in faith study groups and activities
   efforts to learn more about Jesus and how to live his message in
    their daily lives
   commitment to work with other believers for the welfare of the
    hungry, the sick, and others with special needs
   reading of the Gospels to understand Jesus better
   gathering with other believers, knowing Jesus’ promise to be
    ‘wherever two or three gather in my name’ [Matthew 18:20]
   participating in celebrations of Jesus’ presence especially Mass and
    the Sacraments
   keeping his commandments to show their love of Jesus [John 15:10]
   joining with other believers to show care in some way for the hungry,
    the sick, those feeling lonely or rejected, or anyone with special
    needs because of Jesus’ words: ‘in so far as you did this to one of
    the least of these of mine, you did it to me’ [Matthew 25:40].

Wanting to live as God intends
Many find themselves wanting to:
  keep the Commandments and to live as Jesus taught in daily life
  persist in their efforts to express their inner likeness to God in daily
   life activities (especially in how they deal with others), particularly
   when this is difficult for personal or social reasons
  try to live according to Christian moral teachings
  strive sincerely to fulfil their daily responsibilities
  show genuine hospitality and courtesy to all
  forgive those who offend them
  live as Jesus taught and feeling inner tension whenever they fail to
  develop the qualities and gifts, forgiveness, love, understanding that
   express their inner likeness to God
  learn how to live Christian teachings in particular situations and when
   moral questions arise

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    fulfil the responsibilities in their normal daily lives, even when not
    show charity to refugees and migrants
    accept personal suffering and adversity, offering them to God.

Feeling drawn to contribute to communities of faith
Many find themselves wanting to contribute to the life and activities of
their faith communities:
   within their families they feel the need, for example, to contribute to
    family life, spending time talking and listening to other members or
    join in family activities and projects
   within their parishes, they respond to requests to contribute as
    singers, readers, helpers in youth groups, altar servers
   participating in community prayer gatherings for special needs
   joining in communal acts of penance (Ash Wednesday, Good Friday,
    weekly Friday penance)
   showing courtesy and willingness to contribute to common projects
    with other communities, especially those serving local community
   trying generally to reconcile people who have argued or fallen out,
    and to be peace-makers
   working to reconcile people who have fallen out
   willingly taking on necessary tasks and responsibilities that bring little
    or no public recognition.

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6.4 Mary as Mother of the Church supports the Church in its

Mary has a special role in salvation history and her role is linked to the
work of Jesus. Mary was called to live the life God called her to as the
mother of Jesus.

Mary is integrated into the mystery of Christ and the mystery of the
Church. Mary existed for Jesus from the Incarnation, at his birth,
throughout his life, at his death and for eternity.

The Church teaches that Catholics honour Mary as a unique member of
the Church who gives comfort and hope to believers.

On the Cross Jesus established a maternal relationship between Mary
and John the disciple with the words "Behold, your son". The words of
Jesus express Mary’s personal relationship with individual Christians.

Mary as Disciple
Through her example of total discipleship and maternal love Mary
continues to assist the Church to fulfil its destiny.

Mary’s life is directed toward understanding what God wants of her. She
is the ultimate example of how a disciple is called to live their life.

Mary's vocation as disciple expresses itself and develops as she accepts
the mission as mother of Jesus Christ.

Mary accepts her mission
Mary grew in her understanding of how she was called to live her life,

       Discernment and acceptance: At the Annunciation Mary listens
       to the angel, ponders what she is called to and says yes,
       accepting her call from God

       Commitment: Throughout her life she continues to say yes to
       God and lives a life in total discipleship to God and the Spirit
       always trying to understand what God asks of her

       Participation: She engages with and respects the mission of her

       Transformation: She suffers and accepts the radical reality of
       the passion and death of Jesus and then at the foot of the cross
       she becomes the spiritual mother of the Church.

       Communion: Mary is first in the community of disciples. She
       shared a bond with Christ’s other disciples.

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Key Understanding 7
The mission of the Church is expressed in the work of the Second
Vatican Council

7.1 The Second Vatican Council provides guidance for how the
Church lives its mission in contemporary society

Since the time of Christ, Christians have been developing an
understanding of just what it means to be live like Christ. The first major
"council" of the Church occurred around 50 AD, in Jerusalem, and
featured Saints Peter and Paul, two of the original Christian Apostles.

Throughout the history of the Church councils have been held on a
regular basis on both the "ecumenical" meaning of the whole Church
and "local" levels. The teachings of these councils have guided the
faithful. Developing the doctrines and teachings of the Church and
always returning to the truth handed on by the Twelve Apostles in their
interaction with Jesus Christ.

Councils deal with new issues
Councils of the Church like Vatican II do not simply pass on teachings
from the past. They also deal with new issues. They try to explore new
issues in accordance with the best understanding from the teachings of
the past and what is contained in Scripture.
The Catholic Church experienced a comprehensive process of renewal
with Vatican II (1962–1965).

An examination of the documents of Vatican II will demonstrate that they
did not change or refute any previous teachings but as Pope John XXIII
desired they sought to bring about an “aggiornamento”. A renewal of
Christian living that affirmed the essential truths and values of the past
while calling for a conversion of mind and heart in light of the current
situation in society.

At the time of Vatican II the world faced political, social, economic, and
technological change. Vatican II sought to teach people of the day how
the Church relates to their lives.

Pope John’s opening speech to the Council:

       The greatest concern of the ecumenical Council is that the
       sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and
       taught more effectively. ...the Church should never depart from
       the sacred treasure of truth ... But at the same time, she must
       ever look to the present, to the new conditions and the new forms
       of life introduced into the modern world. (Pope John’s opening
       speech to the Second Vatican Council, 11 October 1962)

Significant Church Teaching
Vatican II produced sixteen documents among these are the "Four
Foundational Constitutions" from which other documents depend.

As is customary with significant Roman Catholic Church documents they
are known by the first words of the documents.

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Vatican II foundational documents:

1.     The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium
       addresses liturgical changes. It is the first of the documents of
       Vatican II and even today remains what most people associate
       with Vatican II.

2.     The Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes was all about
       the human person, the individual, the community, the entire
       human family. It was concerned in cooperating to find true and
       just responses to the enormous challenges of modern times, to
       the needs of others.

3.     On Revelation, (Dei Verbum) outlines the close relationship
       between Revelation, the Word of God, Scripture, Tradition and
       the Magisterium and clarified that the Magisterium is not above
       the Word of God but serves it faithfully."

4.     On the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Lumen Gentium)
       the central document of Vatican II. Which has the following

       1. The Mystery of the Church
       2. The People of God
       3. On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and In Particular
          on therole of bishops
       4. The Laity
       5. The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church
       6. Religious
       7. The Eschatological Nature of the Pilgrim Church and Its
          Union with the Church in Heaven
       8. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of
          Christ and the Church

The documents of Vatican II continue to challenge Catholics today about
how they are called to live their lives as God wants; how the faithful are
called to discern their Catholic identity, discipleship and vocation, how
they are to celebrate the sacraments and in particular the importance of
participating in Eucharist as the source and summit of their lives.

Vatican II challenges believers to understand Church, to read and pray
the Scriptures, to value marriage, family and discipleship and to work at
bringing about church unity.

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7.2 The Church today continues to reflect upon its mission in the
light of its Tradition
The Catholic Church is dynamic and for each generation with the
guidance of the Holy Spirit continues to translate the essence of God’s
revelation in a way that the faithful can understand. Each generation
responds to the Tradition of the Church, its liturgies, writings, teachings
and prayer in a way that does not change God’s truth as revealed by

Tradition with a capital “T” refers to those Catholic teachings which are
absolute such as those found in the Creed.

Scripture and Tradition
St Paul states very forcefully that he is “handing on” what was “handed
on” to him (1 Corinthians 11:23). This “handing on” is a term with a
special meaning in the Jewish teaching of the time. It translates into
Latin as traditio, from which the English word tradition is derived. St Paul
is confident that the community of believers has a strong sense about
what is important enough to be passed on to the next generation of
believers. The Holy Spirit will help the community understand what in its
experience and customs should really be retained. St Paul carefully
distinguishes between what is his own opinion and what he sees to be
the Church Tradition handed on to him.

In the Second Vatican Council’s document on divine revelation, Dei
Verbum (Latin: "The Word of God") the relationship between Tradition
and Scripture is explained:

       "Hence there exists a close connection and communication
       between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them,
       flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge
       into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture
       is the word of God in as much as it is consigned to writing under
       the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the
       apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word,
       which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the
       Holy Spirit. (DV, 9)

The Apostles handed on the teachings of Jesus in two ways. The first
way was orally:

       "By the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their
       preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they
       established, what they themselves had received, whether from
       the lips of Christ, from His way of life and His works, or by . . . the
       prompting of the Holy Spirit."

 The second way was in writing:

       "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles
       who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the
       message of salvation to writing" (CCC 76).

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The Church today and Tradition
Christians have always asked how they might know whether they were
following the right interpretation of the teaching of Jesus. Throughout the
ages Church leaders have assured the faithful that what is handed down
with the authority of the Magisterium is the essential teaching of the

Tradition and Scripture

       "are bound closely together and communicate one with the other.
       For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring,
       come together in some fashion to form one thing and move
       towards the same goal" (CCC 80).

The "sacred deposit of faith", this mixture of Scripture and Tradition was
entrusted by the apostles to their successors (CCC 84), and

       "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of
       God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has
       been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone.
       . . . This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted
       to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the
       Bishop of Rome" (CCC 85).

Tradition does not mean that nothing ever changes. It is essential that
there be adaptation and growth, the adaptation must always be as a
continuation of the past, a way of making the lessons relevant to the
society and mission of the day.

Discerning the mission of the church in the world today
As part of the process of discerning the mission of the Church in the
world people follow the guidance of the Magisterium. This consists of the
Pope and the Bishops of Catholic Churches throughout the world who
form what is called the College of Bishops.

One way the College of Bishops may guide the Church in a particular way
is by coming together in an ecumenical council.

Synods of Bishops are advisory bodies to the Pope that meet in Rome on
certain occasions. The Bishops consider important issues and develop
church teachings to further guide the Church. One such Synod brought
together the Bishops of Oceania to explore issues related to how the
people of Oceania live out their mission as part of the Church.

Every country or region also has a Conference of Bishops sometimes
called an Episcopal Conference. Local decisions are referred to them.
According to Canon Law the Episcopal Conference of each region has the
authority in some areas of Church teaching to guide and address issues
in the local community.

Episcopal conferences guide the mission of their communities by issuing
statements on issues such as how Catholics should treat refugees and
the environment. These statements always relate back to the basic
teachings of the Church.

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7.3 The mission of the Church is realised in the work of Christians
Christians respect rights related to employment
The Seventh Commandment needs to be observed by Christians in all
issues of employment. In practice, this means recognising a number of
human rights, namely those:
 to employment
 to a just wage
 to strike to protect just rights
 to social security by unemployed workers.
The doctrine of the universal destination of goods
The purpose of the goods of the earth has been revealed by the God.
This is called the doctrine of the universal destination of goods.

       In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the
       common stewardship of (all humanity) to take care of them,
       master them by labour, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of
       creation are destined for the whole human race. [CCC 2402]

God gave all the right to the resources of the earth for the necessities of
life to all. This ‘principle of the universal destination of goods’, means

       According to the plan of God, the goods of the earth are offered
       to all people and to each individual as a means towards the
       development of a truly human life.
       [Vocation and Mission 43]

People exercise this right by working for what they need, or paying
others to do this for them.

Human resources are part of creation. The various forms of employment
across the whole of human society inter-relate and form part of human

All have a right to employment
It can be concluded that ‘the principle of the universal destination of
goods’ means that all have a right to employment because all have the
right to provide for their basic needs from the resources of the earth.

People have a right to be employment, they have been created to reflect
God by working in ways that develop their personal potential and their

       Without work, therefore, people can find their potential frustrated
       and their basic needs unfulfilled [CCC 2433].

Access to employment and to professions must be open to all without
discrimination. Society should, according to circumstances, help citizens
find work and employment.

The right to employment precedes the right to profit
Because all have a right to employment, it is morally wrong to deprive
some of this right so that others can make a greater profit.

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This is something that needs to be worked out in concrete situations. It
leads to a basic principle of Catholic teaching, the priority of labour over

         In view of this situation we must first of all recall a principle that
         has always been taught by the Church: the principle of the
         priority of labour over capital … capital, the whole collection of
         the means of production (should) remain a mere instrument or
         instrumental cause.
         [Vocation and Mission 43]

The question is whether the priority of labour is being respected.

         A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of
         economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire
         for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the
         causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order. [CCC

All have a right to a just wage
In an age of wage negotiations, it is important to remember that, under
the Seventh Commandment, people retain their right to adequate access
to the earth’s resources. This means that all have the right to a just
wage. Any agreement not consistent with this is immoral, regardless of
whether or not those employed have agreed to the negotiated salary

         A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it
         can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay both the needs
         and the contributions of each person must be taken into account.

         ‘Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to
         provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the
         material, social, cultural, and spiritual level, taking into account
         the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business,
         and the common good.’ [CCC 2434]

Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the
amount to be received in wages.

A person’s wage should not depend upon his or her negotiating skills or
any other consideration than what is just return for her or his labour.

The right to strike to protect just rights
If employees believe that their rights and conditions are not being
respected by their employers, they may, as a last resort, stop work or go
on strike to force respect for their rights as workers. This right arises

    their cause is just and related to the defence of their rights and not
     political or exploitive
    efforts to get employers to respect their rights through negotiation
     and other means have failed.

The right to strike is exercised legitimately as a last resort.

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       Workers should be assured the right to strike, without being
       subjected to personal penal sanctions for taking part in a strike.
       [Human Work 20]

Alternatively, there is no moral right to strike to gain benefits to the
detriment of other workers in the community. Additional benefits and
conditions should be sought through negotiation and arbitration.

       While admitting that it is a legitimate means, we must at the
       same time emphasise that a strike remains, in a sense, an
       extreme means. It must not be abused; it must not be abused
       especially for ‘political’ purposes. [Human Work 20]

Workers have the right to strike to protect the rights given them under
the Seventh Commandment.

       Recourse to a strike is morally legitimate when it cannot be
       avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate
       benefit. It become morally unacceptable when accompanied by
       violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly
       linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good.
       [Catechism 2435]

Essential services.
Essential services affect all in society, and their ability to have what they
need for life-necessities.

       When essential community services are in question, they must in
       every case be ensured, if necessary by means of appropriate
       legislation. [Human Work 20]

It is for governments to protect workers’ rights directly if employers do
not do so. And while they have the right to strike to protect themselves
against manipulation or exploitation if their legitimate interests are being
jeopardised, they should:
 exercise it as briefly as possible
 do all that they can to protect the community from losing the benefit of
   their services
 strike only as a last resort.

Unemployment benefits are a right
Given that under ‘the principle of the universal destination of goods’ all
have rights to the resources they need from the earth, society is obliged
to provide those needed for life if society cannot provide them with

Unemployed people have the moral right to sufficient financial resources
to provide for their needs and those of their dependants. Such resources
are not a privilege, morally speaking. Society has:

       the obligation to provide unemployment benefits, that is to say,
       the duty to make suitable grants indispensable for the
       subsistence of unemployed workers and their families, is a duty
       springing from the fundamental principle of the moral order in this

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       sphere, namely, … the right to life and subsistence. [Human
       Work 20]

In a materialistic society, people tend to want to keep what they have. As
a result negative attitudes develop towards those in need of financial
support. Unemployed people need all the love and support that can be

The rights of the unemployed
All need to know these rights. The unemployed, especially, need to be
aware of what is theirs by right.

Employers and employed people need to know their obligations to the
unemployed and fulfil these by:
 pressing governments to provide adequately for unemployed people
 paying their share of taxes
 providing jobs if they are able to
 discouraging social attitudes that fail to respect the rights of the

Those who are genuinely unemployed need to know their right to
unemployment benefits, and the moral basis for this. Otherwise they
may feel loss of dignity and defensive about their plight.

Unemployed people should keep doing what they can to find
employment. Not to seek employment, and to simply take
unemployment benefits when their plight is not genuine, is morally
wrong. They are harming the common good.

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              OF THE CHURCH

This chapter presents the following key understanding and
learning points

Key Understanding 8
Sacraments of Service support the mission of the Church

8.1 The Sacraments of Initiation empower Christian mission

8.2 The sacrament of Holy Orders empowers those who serve the
people of God in a special way

8.3 The sacrament of Marriage empowers a couple to sustain and
build the mission of the Church

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Key Understanding 8
Sacraments of Service build up and serve the people of God for the
mission of the Church

8.1 The Sacraments of Initiation empower Christian mission

Sacraments of Initiation
Sacraments are vital expressions of Catholic life. Each time people
receive a sacrament there is a deeper response to the call of Jesus to
discipleship and mission.

Jesus did not simply teach how people ought to live, but he offers every
believer the means of becoming one with God.

To share the inner strength Jesus showed throughout his life, Jesus
gave his followers three Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation and
Eucharist. Each contributes to the inner strengthening of believers to
overcome whatever pressures that otherwise would incline them:
 to succumb to social and peer pressures
 not to be their own persons or followers of Christ, but to surrender their
  individuality to the wishes of others.

The Christian mission can bring rejection
Jesus knew rejection, ridicule and pressures. In his life:
 people left him because of his teachings [John 6:59-60]
 treated him derisively even when he was dying [Luke 23:35-38]
 tried to trap him into saying things that would make him look silly
  [Matthew 22:15-22]
 plotted to harm him [John 11:47-54].

Jesus warned his followers that, if they lived as he taught, they too
would have such experiences at times.

       Remember the words I said to you. A servant is not greater than
       his master. If they persecuted me they will persecute you too.
       [John 15:20]

       If the world hates you must realise that it hated me before it
       hated you… you do not belong to the world… that is why the
       world hates you. [John 15:18]

       Disciple is not superior to teacher… It is enough for disciple to
       grow to be like teacher… If they have called the master of the
       house ‘Beelzebub’, how much more the members of his
       household. [Matthew 10:24-25]

Application to vocation
Christians face many pressures against living as Christ calls. As a result,
often it can be easier, at least initially, to:
 follow social trends rather than to share in Christ’s work by challenging
  and doing what one can to help transform them
 remain insensitive to how one can contribute to
  - individuals
  - society
  - the environment

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   focus on the world outside rather than to reflect and to discover the
    sense of a personal path through life
   drop out or become depressed if unemployed than to consider other
    ways of contributing as God’s fellow workers
   take life as it happens rather than focus upon one’s personal vocation
   be influenced by attitudes that suggest religion is irrelevant rather than
    co-operate with God living within
   consider future work solely in terms of material and social
    advancement rather than one’s Christian vocation and the life-style it
   follow popular social attitudes and trends rather than foster values that
    contribute to the development of
    - individuals
    - society
    - the environment

Ways the Sacraments of Initiation empower re-creation
Of the three Sacraments of Initiation, in the times of the scriptures,
Baptism and Confirmation were celebrated in the same ceremony, so
when they speak of Baptism, they are referring to the ritual through
which both were conferred. Only later were these sacraments celebrated
separately for historical reasons.

As learnt in earlier years, through Baptism, God dwells within the
believer. He or she enjoys the divine life within. This inner life of God
makes us like Christ, in whom the divine and human are united.

         Through baptism, we are formed in the likeness of Christ [Church
         Constitution 7]

So Baptism potentially empowers people to live like Jesus and as Jesus
taught the divine ‘makes a house’ in our humanity [cf. John 14:25]. The
degree to which they actually succeed in living like Christ depends upon
the degree to which they respond to God within.

The presence of God within has a number of consequences which also
recreate believers to live like Christ:
 the power of Original Sin is broken, though the struggle against the
  weaknesses and temptations it leaves behind remains (just as a sick
  person needs to build up strength after the cause of his or her sickness
  is removed by surgery)
 they can join in the liturgical prayer which is the prayer of Christ — and
  so is far more powerful than any human prayer — by participating in
 they are joined at a spiritual level with all others in whom God lives
  through Baptism, and so become members of the Church.

Through Baptism, therefore, a believer can enjoy always the hope of
rising above human weaknesses, no matter what they are. It depends
upon his or her response to the divine dwelling within

         Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the
         neophyte ‘a new creature’, an adopted son (or daughter) of God,
         who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature, member of

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       Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. [CCC

Application to vocation
Through Baptism, believers can recognise first the personal call of
Christ, their Christian vocation. This is so because Christ dwells within
and calls from within. The sense of the path Christ is calling the believer
to follow grows stronger, and decisions are guided gradually so that
one’s vocation becomes clearer.

Freed from Original Sin believers are no longer controlled by what is
contrary to the Creator’s original intention in their human nature. It frees
from whatever hampers the discovery of one’s true vocation.

Joining in liturgical prayer, the prayer of Christ himself, prayers for
guidance about vocation and work related questions and values become
more powerful as Jesus unites them with his prayer, especially in the

Joining spiritually with others in the Church, the believer benefits from
the prayers of other believers, the prayers of others helps each one
discover God’s guidance about their vocation.

Confirmation guides vocation
Through Confirmation, believers ‘are endowed with the special strength
of the Holy Spirit’ [Church Constitution 11]. It is the Sacrament that
makes possible the kind of resistance to social trends, attitudes and
pressures that empowers those confirmed to become ‘true witnesses of
Christ’ [ibid.].

As they respond to Confirmation, therefore, believers find themselves
strengthened, for example:
 to persist in the search for the path in life that is theirs
 to overcome challenges against their efforts to follow their vocations
  (temptations towards financial and social status)
 to overcome discouragement against God’s calling (times of failure,
 to resist social and peer trends to follow other paths in life than the one
  God created them for.

Confirmation completes or ‘confirms’ Baptism, for through it, the Spirit
offers the strength to live like Christ in the world.

Eucharist guides vocation
Though Baptism and Confirmation empower believers to live like Christ,
in practice the struggle against human weaknesses so that the divine
power they offer can be drawn on remains very great. So Christ offers
nourishment for this struggle through the Eucharist. Inner spiritual
strength grows, just as physical strength grows from food.

       What material food produces in our bodily life Holy Communion
       wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life… growth in the Christian
       life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread
       of our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given
       to us as viaticum.[Catechism 1392]

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The Eucharist nourishes all who are trying to find their vocations in life. It
helps them with the struggles and discouragement that can be
experienced from time to time. The Eucharist also [cf. Catechism 1391-
 unites Christians more intimately with the Christ whom they receive,
  enabling them to hear his calling more clearly
 separates them from sin, freeing them from what weakens their ability
  to recognise the call of Christ
 restores spiritual strength weakened by sin, thus restoring the person’s
  capacity to face challenges related to following her or his vocation
 relieves pressures from mortal sins which break the human
  relationship (and capacity to hear the calling) of God
 commits believers to the poor, helping them to persist in fostering the
  values that relate always to a Christian vocation
 reminds believers of the need for greater unity among Christians if the
  world is to be transformed as Christ wants

Sacraments are celebrated in community
All sacraments are events for the whole Catholic community to celebrate
together. Parishes prepare and celebrate the sacraments as a

The entire parish community is invited to come to renew and deepen
their spirituality in the sacrament. It is a time of total renewal for the

The Sacraments celebrated within community help people to live the
Christian life and to discover their mission and vocation.

Christians respond to sacraments by:
 giving time each day to develop their relationship with God through
 joining with Christ in his prayer through liturgies
 striving to live the Christian life.

The question for each believer, therefore, is: ‘To what extent am I co-
operating with God so that the promises of the Sacraments of Initiation
become real in my life by my responding to them?

Relating Faith and Life
The Christian calling to share in the work of Jesus is not an easy one. It
is not easy to:
 do what we can to help transform the world
 accept one of the more radical vocations, if one is called to it
 promote Christian values in relation to the development of individuals,
  society and the environment.

The Holy Spirit helps those who respond as they try to promote in
society the values of the Third and Seventh Commandments.

The Spirit guides believers further in other ways as well. Two ways
believers can draw upon the Spirit are by joining in:
 activities of the Church as People of God

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   the Sacraments of Initiation.

Only the believer can make the necessary choices. To the extent that
each does so, he or she can look forward to the personal happiness that
grows in all who become God’s fellow-workers, reflecting God is their
true nature.

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8.2 In the Sacrament of Holy orders the mission entrusted by Christ
to his apostles continues to be exercised


Christians accept re-creation through the Priesthood of Jesus
People are often troubled when they fail to obey their conscience,
despite their best efforts. They want to do what they know to be right, but
find themselves not doing so. Like St Paul, they find within themselves
an inner struggle

       I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to,
       but I do things that I hate... …though the will to do what is good is
       in me, the power to do it is not…
       [Romans 7:15, 18]

St Paul found that he could win the struggle to do what is right with the
help of God. The Holy Spirit strengthened him from within to conquer his
human failings and weaknesses [Romans 8].

Anyone willing to relate with God, as Jesus made possible can have the
experience of St Paul. However, to have this experience, people must
be willing to turn to God in the ways Jesus taught. As they do so, the
power of God will grow within them. They will find living as their
consciences call gradually becoming easier.

Central to the ways Jesus taught his followers to relate with God is
worship. Many today find this idea hard to accept because often they
‘feel closer’ to God alone than when with others. Also, they find it more
satisfying to pray to God in their own words than to join in the formality of

Here feelings are misleading. As known from relationships, people can
feel close with others when in fact they are not. The same is true with

True experiences of God occur deep within a person. They are
experienced at ‘the core’, and are far deeper than emotions or thoughts.
Being so deep, experiences of God can affect a person at many different
levels. For example, they may influence thoughts, attitudes and ways of
looking at things or emotions. How exactly they affect people depends
upon where in their lives they need inner guidance or strength.

Jesus instituted new ways of worship
For thousands of years, people have prayed alone and worshipped.
Archaeology alone shows that religious practice has been common from
the earliest eras of human history.

God, wanting closer relationships with people than people could achieve
alone, began to teach people how to relate more intimately with their
Creator. God revealed new ways of praying, worshipping and living in
the Old Testament.

The climax of the Old Testament was the Covenant God made with the
people of Israel at Mt Sinai around 1250BC. One of the most famous

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features of this event was the Ten Commandments. Another was the
institution of new forms of worship and priesthood. God instituted this
priesthood by calling the brother of Moses, Aaron, to fulfil this role

       From among the Israelites, summon your brother Aaron and his
       sons to be priests in my service. [Exodus 28:1]

God then ordered that one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi,
would in future serve as the priests of the new religion God was
establishing [Numbers 3 and 4]. The function of the priests was to serve
as mediators, or ‘go-betweens’, between God and the people.

The priests were to lead in worship and to take care of the Temple and
the things of God. They were also to go to God in the Temple and to
pray on behalf of the people, expressing their needs and requests.

Among the first priests, Aaron was the High Priest. His role was to enter
into the most sacred area of God’s sanctuary to worship on behalf of the
people. Before doing so, he had to offer a sacrifice of repentance for his
sins and those of his family [Leviticus 16:6]. Only then could he go into
the sanctuary.

God directed that worship be formalised in different ways. For example,
Aaron and the priests were to wear special vestments that made it clear
to all they were not functioning as private individuals, but as mediators
between God and the people [Exodus 28]. Also, God directed the steps
of their liturgies [Leviticus 1-7], including the use, at times, of such
symbols as the oil of chrism and incense [Exodus 30:22-37].

The people of Israel could experience God more intimately than other
people if they worshipped as God required. However, all that God
revealed to them was only a step towards where God eventually was
leading them.

Where God was leading them became clear when Jesus, the Son of
God, also became a human being. Jesus made it possible for people to
have greater intimacy with God.

He instituted a new Covenant, new worships and a new priesthood.

Jesus revealed himself as priest of the New Testament
Old Testament priests were appointed by God to mediate between the
people of Israel and God. They were to serve as ‘go-betweens’ between
people and God.

Jesus, however, while being fully human is also fully divine. He is able to
mediate between God and humanity far better than could any human

Jesus revealed that he was changing the priesthood of the Old
Testament and that he was to be the only priest of the New Testament.
Jesus revealed this at the Last Supper by changing the Passover ritual.
He did this by changing bread and wine into his Body and Blood and
offering himself in a priestly way to God the Father.

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Jesus led the Apostles to repeat his action. Every time that they did so,
he would change bread into his Body and wine into his Blood

This meant that they would share in his priestly service. The early
Christians were Jewish, they would have been familiar with what God
had instituted in the Old Testament. They understood clearly what Jesus
was teaching by his action

       ...the Lord Jesus took some bread, and after he had given
       thanks, he broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for
       you; do this in remembrance of me’. And in the same way, with
       the cup after the supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in
       my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’
       [1Corinthians 11:24-25]

Jesus shared with the Apostles his Priesthood
At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the Apostles the special spiritual power
to change bread and wine into his Body and Blood. Whenever they used
this gift it would be Jesus himself who was working through them. When
they repeated ‘This is my Body’, ‘This is my Blood’, they would be acting
in the person of Christ.

For this reason, other early Christians knew that whenever the Apostles
repeated the words of Jesus, it was he who changed the bread into his
Body and the wine into his Blood. Through the Apostles, Christ was
present to them, serving them as their priest.

Jesus gave the Apostles other gifts as well. The New Testament reports
on the ways they exercised these gifts in worship as they understood
Jesus intended. It also reports how this was accepted by the other early
Christians, many of whom had also seen and heard Jesus [1 Corinthians
15:6]. These were the spiritual powers:
 to baptise in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
  Spirit [Matthew 28:19]
 to confirm those who had been baptised [Acts 8:15-17]
 to forgive sins [John 20:22-23]
 to anoint the sick [James 5:14]
 to confer upon others the spiritual power they themselves had received
  to serve in the person of Christ, the Priest of the new Covenant [2
  Timothy 1:6].

With the spiritual power given to them to celebrate the Eucharist, the
Apostles had the power to celebrate six of what now are referred to as
the seven Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance,
Anointing and Holy Orders. The seventh Sacrament is celebrated by a
man and a woman as they enter into marriage.

Whenever the Apostles celebrated a Sacrament, it was Jesus himself
who worked through them. They acted in the person of Christ. This is
made clear from the words of some of the Sacraments:
- ‘I baptise you …’
- ‘This is my Body’,
- ‘This is my Blood’
- ‘I absolve you from your sins.

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Because they acted in the person of Christ when they exercised the
powers of priesthood, the effectiveness of these actions in no way
depended upon their personal holiness or any human quality. Called to
serve as instruments of Christ, it was his power that worked through

So when they used the spiritual powers of priesthood, it was still Jesus
who acted on behalf of God the Father to believers and on behalf of
believers to God the Father. Unlike the priests of the Old Testament, the
Apostles were not mediators themselves, but means through which
Jesus exercised his priesthood, mediating between God and the whole
human race.

Christ shares his Priesthood through the Sacrament of Holy Orders
Christ calls all his followers to share in his Priesthood, but in different
ways. One way all are called to do so is through the Sacrament of
Baptism. Through this Sacrament, the spiritual relationship needed to
join Jesus as he prays to God the Father on behalf of all humanity is

Baptised people can share in the mediation of Jesus to God on
behalf of humanity
Through Baptism, Jesus shares with people his relationship with God
the Father. His relationship is that of Son of God, and so baptised
people become adopted children of God received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out,
       ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear
       witness that we are children of God.
       [Romans 8:15-16]

Sharing in the relationship between Jesus and God the Father, baptised
people also share in his functions as Priest of the New Covenant. They
can share in the mediation of Jesus to God on behalf of humanity. They
can also serve God by bringing the influence of God into the societies in
which they live.

They can pray with Jesus to God on behalf of the people in their lives
and the needs of the whole human race.

They can pray also for peace and justice in the world, and especially for
the suffering. Or, they can pray for guidance for those who are confused
and relief for those who are troubled.

Baptised people can join with Jesus in offering their lives to God, as he
did at the Last Supper. Again, they do this through the Eucharist. From
their lives, they can offer

       their works, prayers and apostolic undertakings (such as care for
       the sick and efforts to teach others by example), family and
       married life, daily work, and relaxation of mind and body…
       indeed even the hardships of life if patiently borne. [Church
       Constitution 34]

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Alternatively, because God has ‘made a home’ within all who are
baptised, within them God is present among human society. As baptised
people try to live like Jesus, others encounter God in them as they did in
the Jesus who lived among the people of Israel around two thousand
years ago.

Though the responses of others to them are likely to be similar to those
experienced by Jesus, in them God will bring about change in human
society — as change was brought through Jesus. As they try to behave
like Jesus in daily life, they

       consecrate the world itself to God. [Church Constitution 34]

From among believers, Christ calls some personally to serve or to
‘minister’ to his Church by making him present to their fellow believers.
Like the Apostles, their vocation is to act in the person of Christ. As they
say, ‘I baptise you’, ‘This is my Body’, ‘This is my Blood’, ‘I absolve you
from your sins’, Jesus himself works through them for the spiritual
guidance and strengthening of believers.

       The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ
       increasingly builds up and leads his Church.

       In the... service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who
       is present to his Church as Head of his Body…. This is what the
       Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the
       Sacrament of Holy Orders, acts (in the person of Christ, the
       Through the ordained ministry… the presence of Christ as head
       of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of
       believers. It is stated in the Catechism [1547, 1548, 1549]

The Sacrament of Holy Orders
Christ has called some of his followers to share in his Priesthood in this
way. Their role is to act in the person of Christ by serving others in the
Church as did the Apostles.

As explained earlier, one of the spiritual powers Jesus gave the Twelve
Apostles was that of handing on to others the special spiritual powers
they themselves had received from him. They used this power as the
early Christians spread across the Roman Empire, and increased in
number. Had Jesus not given the Apostles this power, many of the other
early Christians could not have received the Eucharist, had their sins
forgiven or received the other Sacraments. Future generations of
Christians would also have been deprived of these gifts.

The way the Apostles shared their spiritual powers was through what is
now called the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It is conferred by the laying on
of hands and a special prayer of consecration.

The word ‘orders’, when used to refer to this Sacrament, derives from
the ancient Roman practice of referring to an established group in
society as an ‘order’. In more recent times, the word is used in this
sense to refer to ‘orders of knights’, ‘orders of chivalry’ and ‘orders of

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When the Apostles conferred this Sacrament, they acted in the person of
Christ. Through their action, he himself gave to others the spiritual
powers first given to the Apostles.

Famous examples of early Christians who also shared the spiritual
powers of the Apostles were Paul, Timothy and Titus (recipients of three
of the Letters of the New Testament).

However, though the Apostles handed on their spiritual powers to some
completely, they did not always do so. This was not always necessary
for the service of the Church.

Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the Apostles often handed on
only some of the spiritual powers given them by Jesus. For example,
before long, the Apostles found that they could not fulfil all of their
responsibilities because of the special needs of some Christians. The
Apostles’ major responsibilities were becoming endangered.

To address this problem, the Apostles handed on some of their powers
to a group, who became known as deacons, so that the Christians with
special needs could be provided for. Seven were chosen

       They presented these to the apostles, and after prayer they laid
       their hands on them. [Acts 6:6]

Those who had received completely the gifts of the Apostles soon came
to be called bishops (or ‘episkopoi’ in Greek).

For example, in a letter from Rome to Christians at Corinth about 96AD,
Pope Clement I wrote

       The apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus
       Christ… Christ (is sent) from God and the apostles from Christ…
       (the Apostles) established some of their first followers as
       ‘episkopoi’ and ‘diakonoi’ of the future believers. [1 Clement 42]

The Apostles instituted a third group with whom they shared most of the
spiritual gifts needed to celebrate the same Sacraments, but not all. The
exception was the Sacrament of Holy Orders itself.

In the New Testament, these were called ‘presbyteroi’ (or priests) [Titus
1:5]. Their calling was to work under the supervision of the Apostles and
the ‘episkopoi’.

However, it seems that the term ‘episkopoi’ was used in the New
Testament at times to refer to this group too. The earliest clear
distinction between bishops, priests and deacons is found in a letter of
Ignatius of Antioch, a deacon who was martyred in 110AD. He was killed
by lions in the Colosseum.

Bishops, priests and deacons in the Church today
Within the Church today, bishops, priests and deacons continue the
same basic roles as those handed on first by the Apostles. However,

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over the past two thousand years, the ways they have done so has

       Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred
       and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of
       presbyters and that of deacons. [CCC 1593]

The purpose of these orders is to act in the person of Christ. This has
meant responding to the needs of Christ’s followers in different historical
times and cultures.

As successors to the Apostles, bishops have all the spiritual gifts given
by Jesus to the Apostles. Like the Apostles, they have the spiritual
powers to teach the Gospel, to celebrate the Sacraments and to govern
the Church.

Like the Apostles, bishops have these powers to serve the rest of the
followers of Christ today. Their calling, though, is to serve.

Priests assist bishops in their role of service, as the ‘presbyteroi’
assisted the ‘episkopoi’ in earliest Christian times. They do so by:
 preaching the Gospel
 celebrating the Sacraments
 helping govern the Church by assisting in organising it, calling others
  to play roles of service within parishes and other Church organisations,
  as well as to proclaim the Gospel to all nations [Matthew 28:20]
 encouraging other believers to discover and to follow their Christian

The role of deacons is to assist bishops with their particular
responsibilities, the ways they do so vary.

In the Catechism it is stated

       Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the
       Church… ordination confers on them important functions in the
       ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and
       the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the
       pastoral authority of their bishop. [CCC 1596]

Roles of service to Christ the Priest
The Apostles served as instruments of Christ, the Priest of the new
Covenant, so do bishops, priests and deacons. The effectiveness of the
powers they use does not depend upon personal worthiness but upon
Christ himself.

To help all recognise that bishops, priests and deacons do not act as
private individuals when exercising their spiritual powers, they dress in
special vestments — as did the priests called by God in the Old
Testament [Exodus 28]. Vestments help people to forget about the man
whom they may or may not like, and to remember that, when he is

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exercising the spiritual powers of his role, it is Christ who is acting
through him.

Vestments and other symbols of priestly ministry serve to remind all,
including the one wearing them, that he is called to serve God and
Christians as an instrument of Christ.

Usually priests are called to celibate love
For many people today, the idea of someone choosing to remain
unmarried for life is strange. They wonder why anyone would make this

Yet, this is the choice usually made by those called by God to become
priests and bishops. To understand why, it is necessary to recall the
example of Jesus and some points of history.

Jesus lived a life of celibate love
The mission of Jesus was to teach by actions and words about God’s
love for all. Jesus lived a love that was all embracing and non-exclusive.
He did not marry and have a family. The love Jesus modelled is referred
to as celibate love. The life of Jesus expressed the intimacy between
himself as God the Son and God the Father. The Gospels show him
doing so in his periods of prayer and solitude, as well as in many other
ways. They present him describing his intimacy with God the Father

        The Father and I are one. [John 10:30]

To fulfil his mission, Jesus needed to love all and to respond to the
needs of all. The Gospels tell of him moving from place to place and
from town to town. He was especially available to the sick, the blind,
children and those with special needs.

Jesus remained unmarried ‘for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven’. He
taught also that some among his followers would be called to celibate
love ‘for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven’ [Matthew 19:12]. Their
calling would be to imitate the life-style through which he reflected God’s
love for humanity.

The Church after persecution
From earliest Christian times, celibate love has been recognised as a gift
and calling from God. To understand how this love came to be
associated with priesthood, it is necessary to begin in the earliest
centuries of the Church.

During this period, Church leaders were respected as being heroic
witnesses. In periods of persecution, they were prime targets for
martyrdom. They needed a special spirituality, commitment, zeal and
spirit of service. Even if not known outside Christian communities, they
risked betrayal by disgruntled Christians, especially if they had to be
challenged for not living aspects of the Christian message.

When the Roman persecutions stopped finally in 378AD, this type of
heroism required for Church leadership was gone. So was the spirituality
that it required. Leaders of the Church could no longer give heroic
witness to other Church members.

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This change was felt quickly within the Church of the next century AD. In
this period, when leaders were chosen largely by Church members,
quickly those recognised as having been called to lives of celibate love
‘for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven’ were called also to serve as
Church leaders. Only unmarried priests were called to be bishops,
though the priesthood itself was not restricted to those who were

Those called to celibate love were seen as better reflecting the life-style
and spirituality of Jesus himself. They served to remind Christians of the
special nature of his mission.

The Dark Ages
Though married and unmarried men continued to be ordained as priests,
particular difficulties arose for the service of married priests from 900-
1000AD, known now as the Dark Ages. The collapse of the Roman
Empire in western Europe, the impact of invading Asiatic, Scandinavian
and Saracen tribes and the political influence exercised by powerful
families over the election of bishops led to the Church being heavily
influenced by the world in which it existed. Corruption grew in many
places, to the extent that many felt it was finished. People felt the
Church had run its course and that, since Christ had promised to remain
with his Church until the end of time, the end of the world was imminent.

Though most bishops and priests, be they married or unmarried, were
tainted by this corruption, married priests developed particular
difficulties. Frequently, parish and other Church resources were used by
family members for their own purposes. Money given to the Church was
embezzled. The families of married priests wanted their sons to become
priests also so that family security from Church property was assured.

The mission of the Church was affected also. Often, married priests
needed to find additional income for their families so that priestly service
could not be their only concern. Unmarried clergy also became
materialistic, and their callings suffered as a result. It was more difficult
for married priests to serve where people were poor. Often, if they did,
they needed support from rich patrons who then held undue influence
over the priests’ ministry.

Material concerns affected the priests’ spirituality. The end result was
that the faith of people lacked adequate nourishment, and often
Christianity became mixed with superstitions and primitive customs.

Pope Gregory VII
While some thought the end of the world imminent, during the tenth
century AD, others moved to begin reforming the Church in the west.
These led to the election of Pope Gregory VII and to reforms in the
Church that have continued to the present day.

One reform was that only those recognised as being called to celibate
love for ‘the sake of the Kingdom’ would also be called to serve as
priests. Yet, it took many decades before this reform was fully
implemented. The Pope had the spiritual power to make this reform as
successor to St Peter. The gifts of priesthood have always been

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conferred only upon those recognised as called to priestly service.
Gregory and the reformers recognised that the kind of priesthood the
Church needed required also the calling to celibate love.

Pope Gregory himself died in 1085 and did not see the effects of his
reforms. How controversial they were at the time is shown by the fact
that the Pope was imprisoned for a time by the German Emperor Henry
IV, who sacked Rome in reaction to the efforts of Gregory and other
reformers to bring the Church back to its mission. Gregory was rescued
by the French, but died in exile at Salerno in Italy.

Gregory made no attempt to restrict the priesthood to those called to
celibate love in the eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. Even today,
married and unmarried men are ordained as priests in these Rites,
though only those called to celibate love can become bishops.

Priesthood today
The requirement that only those called to celibate love be ordained as
priests is a Church law, not the law of God. As such, it can be changed
by the Church.

Periodically, this law has been reviewed by the Church. The last time
was in 1968 by Pope Paul VI. Again, it was decided that usually only
those able to provide the priestly service that celibate love allows will be
ordained as priests.

This service is required where people are poor as well as rich, where
there are small numbers of Catholics as well as large. It is required too
for service to those in need.

In societies in which long-term values are ignored, the values celibate
love give witness to need to be kept before people. For example,
celibate love is a sign of consecration to God to those for whom God is
unimportant; disinterest in personal wealth to those who are
materialistic; and self-giving in response to others’ needs in a world in
which so many are concerned with self-interest.

However, the Church is equally aware that celibate love is not an easy
calling in modern society. As married men can be tempted to be
unfaithful to the responsibilities that flow from married love, so priests
can be tempted from the responsibilities of celibate love. They can be
tempted to selfishness, material, sexual and other forms of infidelity.

Just as married people have to work at developing their relationships
and communication with each other, so priests need to do so with God
and those they are called to serve. As married people need to face up to
any psychological difficulties that may develop in their lives, so do

Priests need to keep renewing their commitment to ‘the kingdom of
Heaven’ [Matthew 19:12]. As they do so, the Spirit strengthens their gift
of celibate love.

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The Holy Spirit protects the Gospel through Tradition and Scripture
The Gospels and the commands of Jesus are protected by the Holy
Spirit. This is the Spirit whom Jesus promised

       ...he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be
       speaking of his own accord, but will say only what he has been
       told;… all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.
       [John 16:13]

The two ways the Spirit safeguards the Gospel and the commands of
Jesus are through Tradition and the Scripture. Through these means,
the teachings of Jesus are protected intact even through the darkest
periods of Church history. Tradition and Scripture preserve the full
teaching of Jesus, in different ways from each other. Yet, each helps the
Church to understand the other.

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8.3 The sacrament of Marriage empowers a couple to sustain and
build the mission of the Church

Married love and marriage were created by God
There is a special kind of committed love which is limited to a woman
and a man. This is married love.

A key characteristic of married love is that it is personal. It affects each
as a whole person. It is not only romantic or intellectual or emotional or
sexual or having common interests. Rather, it is all of these things.

The discovery of married love takes time. It is discovered best in the
highs and lows of their relationship, their conversations and arguments,
their reconciliations or shared activities. Gradually, they learn more
about each other and themselves. They learn the other’s background,
and the influences that have helped shape them.

Over time the couple learns to develop the trust needed to deal honestly
and candidly with important personal issues and questions. Each
respects the other. They learn to face difficulties and disagreements
together, neither feeling dominated by the other. They can share hopes,
fears and regrets.

As they discover that the special love they have for each other is
personal, awareness that they are truly meant for each other continues
to grow. Their thoughts change from being best friends and confidants to
becoming spouses.

Two become one
While throughout their relationship the couple have related with each
other, their full sexuality comes into play as they realise that, as persons,
each is incomplete without the other. As female and male, they need to
become one if each is to become truly whole as a person.

Thoughts of becoming one lead them to consider also the suitability of
each other as a parent to any children that they may have. The couple
may consider whether: ‘Do we share the same hopes for our children?’;
‘Do we want to pass on the same values?’; ‘Do we teach the same
things to our children?’

Planning the future
If the couple recognise that their love for each other reflects the potential
of married love, eventually they make a decision to commit themselves
to each other in marriage.

Then they begin to plan when they will make this commitment, having it
recognised publicly by family, friends and wider society. True married
love is not the kind of commitment that wants to remain private to the

This leads to planning their future lives together, home, finances,
possibilities about the care of children and family planning to cite some
examples. In all of this, true love is revealed in the ways they respect
each others’ wishes, adapt their wishes to each other, make
compromises and respect each other’s conscience.

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Marriage created by God
Married love begins in the human heart. It cannot be planned, controlled
or engineered. It is created in the human heart by God:

       This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes
       attached to his wife, and they become one flesh. [Genesis 2:24]

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses it:

       The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and
       woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. [CCC 1603]

As their love develops and is tested over time, couples arrive at the
conclusion that indeed each is incomplete without the other. They need
to become one for the rest of their lives. This leads them to make a
commitment to each other for life, and to desire each other to be the
parents of any children.

As stated in the Catechism

       ‘The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman
       establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life,
       is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the
       procreation and education of offspring... .’ [CCC 1601]

Married love reflects the love of God
In God’s plan, married love is between a man and a woman. It is given
totally, without reservation and exclusively by each to the other. Being
exclusive to each other, it cannot be shared with any other person.

Married love reflects, in a special way, the love of God for each and
every human person.

       Since God created... man and woman, their mutual love
       becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which
       God loves (all people). It is good, very good, in the Creator’s
       eyes. [CCC 1604]

Married love gives security to the couple. Each can rely on the other so
that the trust needed for development as a whole person grows between
them. It provides a support that means serious life challenges and
difficulties can be faced in ways that would not be possible for someone
who is unmarried.

The faithfulness couples promise each other in marriage can grow only
as they communicate together. This requires that they share their joys
and sorrows and reveal to each other the events and concerns of their
daily lives.

The closeness and intimacy of married love can be expressed only by
an act of total self-giving. God created this act, the total physical union
known as sexual intercourse, when creating men and women capable of
expressing themselves in this way

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       a man... becomes attached to his wife, and they become one
       flesh. [Genesis 2:24]

The Christians are called to appreciate human sexuality in marriage
People are created in God’s image and likeness and many human
experiences reflect God’s love. Among these are experiences of
sexuality in marriage.

The two Genesis accounts of the creation of humanity teach us that:
 God created the sexual in men and women
 sexuality is fulfilled in a unique way through the communion of
  marriage [Genesis 2:25]
 sexuality is fulfilled in a unique way through the conception of children
  [Genesis 1:28].

The personal focus of the love between married people mirrors the love
of God for every individual. The joy of their sexual expression of this love
gives them clues to the joy of God when people accept the intimate
relationship that God wants with all.

The feelings of parents at the conception and birth of a child give some
insight into God’s love for every human person.

All these feelings stem from human sexuality, and can enhance our
appreciation for the Creator’s intentions.

The Song of Songs
This Biblical book is about God’s love revealed through human sexuality
within the context of married love. For example, we find described
 the power of sexual attraction between married people towards each
  other [Song of Songs 4:1-7; 5:10-16; 7:1-6]
 the power of the desire for married sexual intimacy [Song of Songs
  2:8-17; 8:1-4].

Such human experiences give clues to the power of God’s love and of
God’s desire for people to enter the Christian faith relationship. They
help people appreciate what underlies:
 Jesus’ willingness to suffer rather than renege on his call to all to
  conversion [Matthew 16:21-23]
 Jesus’ farewell command that his followers proclaim his Gospel to
  every nation [Matthew 28:20].

Such experiences, created by God, also help us to appreciate the
goodness of human sexuality.

In the Book of Isaiah, we learn that the love of a mother for the child at
her breast is not as great as that of God for every human individual
[Isaiah 49:15]. The feelings experienced by a mother as she nurses her
child do reflect something of God’s love for her, for her child and for
each of us. As a mother reflects on her feelings, her appreciation of
God’s personal and intimate love can deepen.

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Another experience identified by Isaiah is that of a parent loving his or
her child [Isaiah 66:13]. Fathers and mothers, reflecting on the feelings
they have for their children, can appreciate increasingly God’s love.

Such feelings stem from human sexuality and teach people of the
nobility and goodness of human sexuality.

Sexual feelings reflect the power of God’s love
God created human nature in the ‘image and likeness of God’ [Genesis
1:27]. Sexual powers and feelings are at the core of every human
person, they are at the core of how people can reflect God.

People know the power of sexual feelings, whether they are married or
not. By revealing their purposes, God is also revealing that when
experienced as God intends, they reflect the power of God’s love.

Within marriage, sexual feelings make it possible for husband and wife
to be united, so powerfully that ‘they become one flesh’. As they become
‘one flesh’, each learns the power of God’s love for them personally.

Each experiences this power as overwhelming and glimpses how God’s
love is personal, faithful and totally committed.

God has taught principles of sexual morality to help people realise the
importance of directing such powerful experiences.

The procreation of children reflects God
The Creator of humanity intended the increase of the human race. The
way God chose to implement this was through people. So God gave
people the powers to cooperate with their Creator in the conception of
human life.

Married love reflects the creative power of God’s love. The reason for
this is that it is capable of conceiving new life.

As stated in the Catechism

        And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to
        be realised in the common work of watching over creation: ‘And
        God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and
        multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it”’. [CCC 1604]

Parents together give a child all that the child inherits from them. Each is
also a unique individual and different from their parents in basic ways.

This uniqueness is due to God creating in each person a soul. It is the
dynamic influence of this soul or spirit that is the source of individuality. It
is also the basis for people coming to realise that God knows each one

For a child to develop into a free and mature individual, much more is
needed than conception. Emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual and
other levels of development require stable relationships. There need to
be people who serve as permanent reference points for how to may
think or behave.

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In God’s plan, these should be the parents who conceived the child. To
provide the stable relationships a child needs, their relationship with
each other must be stable and permanent. They need to be married.
This is why God told the man and the woman in the first of the Creation

       Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth... [Genesis 1:28]

Preparation for marriage
In a society in which many people have different ideas on marriage, sex,
love and commitment, it is easy for people to become confused about
marriage. Such confusion is not helpful to anyone considering marriage.

It is important for couples thinking about marriage to undertake adequate
marriage preparation. Good marriage preparation programs and wise
marriage preparation counsellors help couples to address issues related
to their marriage.

When couples have decided to marry, they should seek the advice of the
priest who is going to perform their wedding ceremony about marriage
preparation as soon as possible. There are different programmes for
different needs.

Good marriage preparation counsellors are concerned about helping
couples prepare well for their future together.

For Catholics, the regular practice of the Sacrament of Penance is also
particularly important. As their relationship with God is restored, damage
can be healed, their potential love strengthened and their capacity to
trust to the extent needed for good marriage preparation can grow.

 Chastity helps couples to prepare well for marriage. It leads them to be
confident about their commitment.

Sex before marriage
Marriage is total ‘self-giving of husband and wife’. Each gives himself or
herself to the other completely and without reservation.

In marriage the expression of mutual self-giving and commitment is the
totally personal union of sexual intercourse. This expresses love that is
both unconditional and that is potentially life-giving.

Prior to marriage, sexual intercourse is not an appropriate expression of
love. In fact, prior to marriage, it can endanger the maturing love of the
couple. For example, it can strengthen the romantic and sexual love
between the couple so that:
   they find it difficult to consider, with sufficient reflection their total
    compatibility for each other
   their feelings of closeness make it more difficult negotiating the
    compromises needed for a successful marriage
   they are reluctant to raise difficult questions and issues that need
    resolving before committing to marriage
   either or even both may repress concerns that need to be addressed.

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Perhaps the greatest danger to couples having engaging in sexual
intercourse before marriage is that they may be deceived into feeling
that they are closer than actually is the case.

Couples who do not practise chastity are in danger of believing that they
are ready for marriage when, in fact, they are not. As a result, their love
will not be strong enough to sustain the kinds of challenges that are
likely to arise in a marriage.

The Commonwealth and Church legal requirements for marriage
Any couple wanting to marry have to fulfil certain civil law requirements.
In Australia, the Commonwealth Government requires that couples to be
   complete a ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ form not more than three,
    nor less than one, calendar month prior to celebration of the
    marriage. The completion of this form includes the presentation of
    Birth Certificates
   have signed a Declaration that they are eligible to marry, meeting the
    age requirements (eighteen years of age unless special permission
    has been given); and are free from all legal impediments (or, where
    possible, such impediments have been dispensed)
   be married by an authorised celebrant and two witnesses.

The Church requires that couples to be married:
  complete a Church Pre-Nuptial Inquiry form which includes
   statements establishing their freedom to marry
  have no State or Church legal impediments to their marriage or,
   where possible, such impediments have been dispensed.

The Sacrament of Marriage
In God’s plan, the family is the basic unit within a society. A society is a
community of families. If family relationships are strong, their members
are strong and together with members of other families, they make
society strong.

The basic foundation of a family is the permanent and stable marriage
relationship between husband and wife. From this relationship flows the
patient-child relationship, the stable reference-point children need for
their development towards maturity.

God understands human nature better than people ever could and is
aware of the human realities that make it hard at times for people to live
according to God’s plan.

To help people, God sent Jesus, the Son of God, to institute a special
Sacrament, called the Sacrament of Marriage. The purpose of this
Sacrament is to make it possible for a couple who marry to draw upon
the strength of God’s love for their relationship.

Through the Sacrament of Marriage God seeks to strengthen in a radical
way the love between husband and wife. In this way, God strengthens
the foundation for family life and through stronger families, the future of
human society.

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Pressures on Marriage Today
There are many challenges on married people some of which can be
very serious. As a result, though they may be deeply in love when they
first marry, sometimes these challenges can be hard to overcome
because the love between wife and husband is not strong enough. For
    different expectations about the roles of husband and wife
    lack of a stable family background for one or both of the spouses
    established personality patterns that conflict
    communication problems on major marriage
    unrealistic marriage expectations
    unmet needs for genuine emotional intimacy
    financial pressures
    lack of house management skills
    conflict with in-laws
    different expectations about sex
    different expectations about the children
    very different backgrounds of the couple

As well as the challenges the couple bring to the new marriage, there
are also external challenges. For example:
   decline in support for the extended family with the rise of the nuclear
   economic pressures, especially if married people have expectations
    that are financially unrealistic
   social and work pressures that lower people’s sense of being in
   decline in values in society, which weaken people’s ability to find self
    esteem and direction in life.

Marriage is enduring
The challenges to marriage and family life can seem discouraging.
People can be sceptical about marriage and fear making a marriage

God has sought to protect people and their children from the suffering of
separation and divorce. This is one reason for God’s laws related to
human sexuality, summed up under the Sixth and Ninth

This means that anyone can look forward with reasonable optimism if
considering marriage provided they:
  live according to God’s laws in relation to human sexuality
  undertake a good and solid programme of marriage preparation as
   early as possible after they decide to marry.

The Sacrament of Marriage helps a married couple
A couple marry by exchanging marriage vows or consent and by
consummating their vows. This relationship is binding for life until one of
the couple dies.

The prerequisite for the Sacrament of Marriage is that both partners
have been baptised. It is through Baptism that God ‘makes a home’
within a believer and God needs to be active within both parties for a
marriage to be a Sacrament.

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This in no way reflects upon the marriages of couples where one partner
is not baptised. These marriages are no less valid or favoured in God’s
sight. However, the relationship with God that married partners need for
the Sacrament of Marriage is lacking.

Jesus wants every couple to experience the Sacrament of Marriage.
This why he told his disciples to spread his message to all people, and
to baptise all who come to believe [Matthew 28:19] and that there is
nothing elitist about the Sacrament of Marriage. Unfortunately, not
everyone can enjoy it because so many Christians do not try to do as
Jesus commanded.

God seals the bond of marriage
When two baptised people marry, their bond is sealed by God. This is
what Jesus was referring to when he said

       what God has united, human beings must not divide. [Matthew

This action brings God into the marriage relationship. It is a pledge of
God’s support so long as the couple cooperate with God

       Thus the marriage bond has been established... in such a way
       that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptised
       persons can never be dissolved. This bond is a reality,
       henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed
       by God’s fidelity. [Catechism 1640]

The Church does not have the power to change this.

In the Bible, a covenant was a solemn agreement that gave promises
and required the fulfilment of responsibilities. In the Sacrament of
Marriage, the couple exchanges promises with God and each other.

So long as they fulfil their responsibilities to God and each other, God
works actively within each. God stirs their thoughts, feelings, emotions
and attitudes so that the couple become increasingly one.

Love and unity strengthened
A wedding ceremony is the start of a marriage. The couple need to
begin to work at their relationship from then onwards. Otherwise, their
marriage will not last.

In order to experience the action of God in their marriage, the couple
need to work at their relationship with God. If they neglect to pray, to
worship or to try to live as Jesus taught, the couple’s relationship with
God will be less strong. They may find that the particular gifts God offers
through the Sacrament of Marriage have not developed sufficiently to
help them overcome the challenges they have to face. They will not be
empowered to overcome serious challenges and pressures in their
marriage. The gifts God offers relate to guidance and spiritual strength in
daily married life.

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The effects of these gifts are the strengthening by God of their love and
unity. The communion between them becomes stronger and more stable
than could be achieved by human love alone.

As stated in the Catechism

       This grace proper to the Sacrament of Matrimony is intended to
       perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble
       unity. By this grace, they ‘help one another to attain holiness in
       their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.’
       [CCC 1641]

Christ is the source of the spiritual gifts of marriage

God’s gifts of guidance and strength in the Sacrament of Marriage are
received through Jesus. He is present with the couple in a special way,
relating with them as they relate with him.

As stated in the Catechism

       Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their
       crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to
       forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to ‘be
       subject to one another out of reverence for Christ’, and to love
       one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. [CCC

For Christians, the promise of Christ’s presence with them in their
marriage relationship gives them the faith to enter into marriage.

They believe that, despite the social and other pressures that bear down
on a marriage relationship today, through Christ, they will receive
guidance when, for example, they need to:
  face the daily problems that arise in marriage
  reopen communication when there is tension
  pick themselves up again
  forgive each other
  bear each other’s burdens
  put up with each other’s unattractive habits
  overcome temptations to be unfaithful.

They believe that, through Christ, they will receive the inner spiritual
strength for example, to:
   work out any problems they may be facing
   make decisions about their home and family life
   support each other
   address issues related to parenting
   make decisions about finance, moving house, the necessity for both
    to work outside the home.

Every marriage is unique
Since every marriage is between two unique people, every marriage
relationship is unique. While God’s teachings and laws on marriage
provide general guidance they are insufficient for the challenges and
issues that arise in individual marriages.

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Despite the seriousness of marriage and future family commitments,
there is no formal training program to prepare couples totally for what is
ahead of them.

This is why Jesus becomes present with couples in the Sacrament of
Marriage. As the people of Israel could approach him two thousand
years ago with their questions and problems, so the couple can turn to
him at any time about any matter in their marriage.

The Rite celebrates the meaning of marriage
Weddings always attract interest and entail much planning for those
involved. The important part of marriage is the wedding ceremony and
its meaning.

The centre of the Rite of Marriage is the exchange of vows between the
woman and the man. This is fundamental to the Christian meaning of
marriage as explained in the Church’s Code of Canon Law

       The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish
       between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which
       of its own very nature is ordered to the well being of the spouses
       and to procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the
       baptised, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a
       [Code of Canon Law 1055]

It is important to stress that this meaning is behind all aspects of a
Marriage Rite. It is:
    a special covenant
    a lifelong partnership
    a partnership a man and a woman establish between themselves
    for the well being of the spouses
    for the procreation and upbringing of children
    a Sacrament when established by two baptised people.

The consent to enter into marriage
The exchange of vows is the most solemn moment in the Marriage Rite.
This is when the man and the woman confer upon each other the
Sacrament of Marriage.

The priest and two others witness this moment, but it is the couple who
are the ministers of this Sacrament to each other.

As stated in the Catechism is ordinarily understood that the spouses, as ministers of
       Christ’s grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of
       Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. [CCC

Through the vows, each pledges to live in married faithfulness to the
other without any conditions until they are separated by death. The
couple complete their consent by consummating their marriage. To
emphasise the divine action that seals their consent, the celebrant

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repeats Jesus’ words: ‘What God has joined, man must not divide’ [Mark

The essential conditions for valid marriage
Before exchanging vows, the couple seeking marriage are asked
questions to establish that they:
 seek marriage freely and without reservation
 intend to love and honour each other for the rest of their lives
 will accept children from God.

The questions are:

       ...have you come here freely and without reservation to give
       yourselves to each other in marriage?

       Will you love and honour each other as man and wife for the rest
       of your lives?

       Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up
       according to the law of Christ and his Church?

The last question is asked in the knowledge that the couple is called to
make responsible parenthood decisions. (It is not asked if the woman is
beyond child-bearing years).

Unless these conditions are fulfilled, there can be no valid marriage.
Unfortunately, sometimes couples realise only later that at least one of
the conditions has not been fulfilled. This is one reason why the Church
now requires adequate marriage preparation.

Blessing and Exchange of Rings
A ring is endless, a symbol of the lifelong love pledged by husband and
wife for each other. After vows have been exchanged, the rings are
blessed so that they can be reminders to the couple and to all others
that the couple’s love has been consecrated by God and that God has
bound them together. The rings are then exchanged.

Marriage of Catholics and Christians who are not Catholics
For a marriage covenant between two people to be a sacrament, both
 be baptised (Baptism being the prerequisite for all other Sacraments)
 intend to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage in terms of its meaning
  and conditions.

Baptised Christians who are not Catholics, and who fulfil the above
conditions, enter into the Sacrament of Marriage. No human authority
can break their marriage bond.

A celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage is a liturgy. It is a celebration
of the Church and needs to be recognised by the Church.

Normally, for their marriage to be a Sacrament, the Church requires that
Catholics be married by exchanging vows before an authorised Church
celebrant (usually a priest or a deacon, or a specially delegated lay

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person in parts of the world where there may be no priest or deacon
available) and two witnesses (usually members of the wedding party).

Provided the essential conditions for marriage have been fulfilled, no
remarriage is possible while either spouse is alive.

Catholics marrying other Christians
When a Catholic and a baptised person from another Christian Church
approach the Church to enter into a marriage covenant, they receive the
Sacrament of Marriage.

When a Catholic and an unbaptised person exchange marriage vows in
the Church, their relationship is blessed, but cannot be a Sacrament.
This is because, as explained earlier, the Sacrament of Marriage
depends upon the relationship with Jesus that is established through

In both cases, the marriage covenant is permanent and lifelong fidelity is

Marrying outside the Church with Church recognition
For special reasons, sometimes before marrying, a Catholic asks the
Church to recognise his or her marriage to someone who is not a
Catholic in a wedding not performed by an authorised Church celebrant.
He or she seeks a dispensation (an official exemption) from the normal
requirement. This will usually be given for valid reasons.

Before giving a dispensation, the bishop of the diocese will want to
satisfy himself that the essential conditions for a valid marriage have
been fulfilled.

Marrying outside the Church without recognition
Catholics receive Sacraments through the Church. So, if a Catholic goes
through a form of wedding ceremony outside the Church without seeking
appropriate recognition, no Sacrament is received. As a result, the
Church does not recognise the marriage or that it is binding upon the

In practice, this means that no marriage bond has been sealed by God,
and either party remains free to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage.
He or she can even do so with a baptised person once a civil divorce
from the civil marriage has been granted.

Reasons why a dispensation may be denied
For serious reasons, a request for a dispensation and Church
recognition may be denied. The most obvious are:
   one of the partners is already married (even though there may be a
    civil divorce)
   the couple may have a blood relationship that is too close for a valid
   an essential condition for marriage may be unfulfilled.

These circumstances would prevent the Church itself from performing a
marriage, and so prevent it equally from recognising a marriage
ceremony celebrated elsewhere.

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Seeking support for a marriage
Today, there are many whose aim it is to support marriage relationships
through preparation and counselling services.

It is important that Catholics use only those services that share the
ideals of Christian teaching on marriage. If a couple seeks help in
resolving a marriage problem from services that do not value lifelong
fidelity, they may not find the type and level of support they are seeking.

Developing the personal relationship with Christ
The Sacrament of Marriage involves a three-way relationship, between
the couple and between each with Jesus. In order to experience what is
offered through this Sacrament, the couple individually and together
need to keep developing their personal relationship with Jesus. They do
so by:
   worshipping together
   receiving Jesus personally in Holy Communion
   praying daily
   striving to live as Jesus taught.

Their daily prayer needs to put before Jesus their real life challenges,
questions and difficulties such as:
  relationship and communication issues
  concerns about their children
  financial and other pressures
  fears
  temptations to be unfaithful
  employment problems.

Their prayer needs to reflect the openness of those who approached
Jesus in the Gospels.

Developing the relationship with each other
Those sharing the Sacrament of Marriage have been joined by God.
Christian married couples have found that, for their marriages to flourish,
they need to build upon this bond by working to develop their
relationship further. They need, for example, to:
   develop good communication
   develop interest in each other’s daily activities and work
   share their concerns and worries with each other
   work together at building up their home and family life
  share all responsibilities that arise from their marriage (care of the
  children, household tasks).

People can enter into a marriage without the essential conditions
Sacramental marriages, being sealed by God, cannot be dissolved,
unless they have not been consummated. So, even if a civil divorce may
be granted, the Church cannot recognise this, for the State has no
power to divide ‘what God has united’ [Mark 10:8].

The Church teaches the indissolubility of the Sacrament of Marriage.
The whole question of valid and invalid marriages is a complicated one.

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If the claim that no valid marriage existed can be established, a
Statement of Annulment is issued by the Church. This frees the couple
of all marriage responsibilities. However, if they have had children, they
still have the obligations of all parents.

In general terms, the grounds for annulment relate to lack of freedom or
lack of adequate intention when the marriage took place or lack of
capacity by one of the partners to fulfil the essential obligations of

An annulment states there was no marriage. It does not break a valid
marriage covenant. The Church has no power to do this because of the
command of Jesus that ‘what God has united, human beings must not
divide’ [Mark 10:8].

The grounds for an annulment are explained in Church law and have to
be established through evidence and witnesses.

Lack of freedom
The purpose of Church law is to implement the teachings of Jesus in
practical life situations. One requirement of marriage is freedom, so in
Church law [Canon 1103]:

A marriage is invalid which was entered into by reason of force or of
grave fear imposed from outside, even if not purposely, from which the
person has no escape other than by choosing marriage.

Apart from physical threat or blackmail, there can be other pressures on
a couple to marry. For example, there may be a mistaken sense of
obligation because:
   of the fear that the intended spouse would be hurt if one did not go
    through with the wedding
   it may be too late to call it off
   of pregnancy
   of parental pressures and expectations
   of the fear for the emotional well being of the other if the marriage
    were to be cancelled.

Lack of intention in the consent
A marriage would be invalid if either of the couple lacked sufficient
intention. There would be insufficient intention, for example, if either the
man or the woman intended a restriction like:
   putting a time-limit on the marriage
   only intending to stay together until the children grow up
   only if the marriage stays happy
   provided they have a home
   provided the other remains faithful.

Lack of intention is recognised when it can be shown that one of the
couple was incapable of contracting marriage in the first place.

Many practical examples could be cited:
  proven immaturity and inability to accept marriage obligations
  an established pattern of being unable to enter into any lasting

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    emotional instability because of a recently failed engagement
    a feeling they are getting too old and that this is their last chance.

For an annulment, it would need to be established that there was a lack
of intention when the couple actually exchanged their consent.

One of the objectives of marriage preparation required by the Church is
to help couples ensure that they feel confident in their own and each
other’s readiness to enter marriage.

Later problems in the marriage relationship do not invalidate a marriage.

How grounds for an annulment are established
The Church is strict in its proclamation of Jesus’ teaching about the
indissolubility of marriage, it is equally concerned to ensure that those
who are not validly married are not bound by marriage obligations. This
is a fundamental principle that needs to be understood in any discussion
of marriage annulment.

In its concern for people, the Church has established special procedures
to collect all the relevant evidence needed to establish whether or not a
marriage is valid. They are carried out by a special Tribunal established
by the diocesan bishop.

Though its procedures are based upon centuries of experience, it is
always possible for someone to submit deliberately false evidence or to
make claims they know to be false. However, the annulment process is
as effective as humanly possible.

If someone believes the diocesan Tribunal has erred in making a
negative decision on their application for an annulment, there are further
processes of appeal. Enquires about an appeal should be made to the
diocesan Tribunal or to their diocesan bishop.

From time to time, famous people receive an annulment. People can
question the Church’s belief in marriage as a result.

It is important not to make a judgement as:
         (i) all evidence and testimony to a Tribunal remains absolutely
         secret, even to other Church officials and bodies
         (ii) Tribunals are unable to defend their decisions for reasons of
         strict confidentiality, even when those receiving an annulment
         give false explanations.

There are no individuals or groups who enjoy special consideration
during marriage annulment enquiries. The marriage either has been
sealed by God or it has not. Even the Pope is powerless to change this

The status of the children of an annulled marriage
A declaration of annulment does not change the status of the children
born into the marriage either in Church or civil society.

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The Catholic Church teaches that all children regardless of the status of
their parents marriage or how they were conceived share the same God-
given rights.

The State or Church cannot dissolve a marriage joined by God?
The authority of the State is not greater than God’s authority. State
authorities do not have the power to dissolve Christian marriages.

If a couple whose marriage is a Sacrament receive a State divorce
which entitles them to remarry in a civil ceremony, this is not recognised
by the Church and they cannot remarry.

As with the State, the Church cannot dissolve the relationship between
couples sealed by God in the Sacrament of Marriage, and whose
marriage has been consummated. Even if the Church were to try to do
so, such a bond would remain undissolved because of God’s authority.

Can the Church dissolve marriages that are not Sacraments?
A baptised person has a God-given right to enter into the Sacrament of
Marriage with another baptised person, and to experience all that God
offers through this Sacrament. Many surrender this right willingly
because they love and wish to marry a non-baptised person.

Pauline Privilege
Since its earliest times, the Church has known that, though human
authorities have no power to do so, the Church itself has the power from
Christ to dissolve marriages between two unbaptised people because
their marriages have not been ‘sealed by God’ as a Christian Sacrament
in special circumstances.

This power was exercised by the Apostle Paul well before even the first
of the Gospels was completed, and is known as the Pauline Privilege [1
Corinthians 7:10-16].

Petrine Privilege
A marriage between a baptised and an unbaptised person is also not a
Sacrament. As explained earlier, a marriage can only be a Sacrament if
God has ‘made a home’ within each of the spouses through Baptism
[John 14:23]. The Pope has the spiritual power to dissolve such
marriages in special circumstances under what is called the Petrine

The Petrine Privilege is based upon the use of the ‘power of the keys’
first given to Peter by Jesus to ‘bind and loose’ [Matthew 16:19].
However, it must be stressed again that this power, inherited by the
Pope today, cannot ‘loose’ a Sacramental Marriage for ‘what God has
united, human beings must not divide’ [Mark 10:8].

When a marriage has not been consummated
For various reasons, a couple may marry, but not consummate their
marriage. This means that their marriage vows have not been

In this situation the Church has the power to dissolve the marriage bond
for serious reasons. This is true even if the marriage is a Sacrament.

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These situations are not easy to understand. They are as complicated
as the lives of people and require greater understanding. It is important
to recall some fundamental principles:
   every baptised person has the right from God to enter into the
    Sacrament of Marriage, a union ‘sealed by God’;
   the Church cannot dissolve non-Sacramental marriages except in the
    circumstances referred to above;
   the Church can only implement God’s laws related to marriage, not
    change them;
   the Church has pastoral responsibilities to all people — and is bound
    to help people in marriage difficulties to work out their obligations
    from God;
   the Church cannot hold bound to marriage people not so bound by

The Sacrament of Marriage
Through the Sacrament of Marriage, God blesses and strengthens the
love of believers. The Sacrament emphasises God’s purposes for
marriage which are:
 the growing love between a man and a woman who have exchanged
  vows of committed love to each other
 the conception of children within this stable relationship.

The characteristics God intends of the family
God intends the human family to have certain characteristics. The
characteristics of family that God intends are as follows. A family will be
built upon [Catechism 2201, 2203]:
  the marriage of husband and wife
  the conception and education of children
  the personal relationships and responsibilities between parents and
    children, children and parents and children between each other
  the equal dignity of each of its members
  an affinity of feelings, affections and interests based upon the
    respect of family members for each other.

From the revelation of God in the Book of Genesis, we see that the
family is the original cell of social life. It is here that children first learn
relationships, stability and love

        A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their
        children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition
        by public authority, which has an obligation to recognise it. It
        should be considered the normal reference point by which the
        different forms of family relationships are to be evaluated. [CCC

        Family life is an initiation into life in society. [CCC 2207]

The family has the responsibility of assisting weaker members as far as
it is possible for other family members to do so. When the needs of
weaker members are beyond the resources of the family, other families
and the wider society are obliged to assist

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       The family should live in such a way that its members learn to
       care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the
       handicapped, and the poor.
       [CCC 2208]

Charity empowers quality family life
Family life has always had its high and low points. There are times of
celebration but also times of tension. Family life demands times of
forgiveness, sensitivity, understanding and all the other forms of self-

This kind of self-giving becomes easier as charity grows. As each
person loves God for God’s own sake, the relationship with God grows.
This allows God to empower each to greater love and self-giving.

As each person loves the other for God’s sake, their motivation for self-
giving depends less upon others’ responses. If other family members are
being difficult, this can be overcome.

Jesus transforms human nature today
Jesus changes forever the human nature of all who accept Baptism by
making it possible for God ‘to make a home’ in people. As the divine and
the human grow increasingly one in the believer, the result is the
believer’s gradual ‘transformation’ by God.

Human ‘transformation’ means that human nature is restored by Christ
to function as God originally intended. Its potential goodness grows,
gradually overcoming sinfulness. So, for example over time:
   love grows stronger and selfishness declines
   unjust tendencies are replaced by justice
   forgiveness increases as resentments weaken
   discriminatory attitudes gradually are replaced by growing respect for
    human rights
   tendencies to exploit are replaced gradually with respect.

Believers accept transformation by worshipping, praying and trying to
live as Jesus taught. As they do so, the original goodness created in
human nature by God increasingly shines through. Gradually, the ways
they behave change for the better. The goodness within them affects
their families, friends, peers, work colleagues and others in their lives.
The ways believers treat others, influence society and treat the
environment are transformed. Their activities reflect God’s mastery more
and increasingly they find fulfilment as God’s fellow-workers.

Transformation takes a life-time
The transformation Christ came to offer takes a life-time. The reason for
this is that God always respects the freedom God has given the human

Though God’s power is infinite, human willingness to co-operate is not.
People have mixed motives and conflicting desires.

Christ offers transformation that can be experienced only by struggling to
obey God by living as Jesus taught.

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This is a very real struggle, and often people fail to make it. Temptations
to disobey God often seem irresistible in daily life situations.

The work of Jesus was to restore human nature in people, making it
possible for the aspects of human nature that reflect God to grow
stronger. As these aspects grow stronger others decline.

This process takes a life-time, struggles against temptations to do wrong
will be no less than those of Jesus [e.g. Luke 4:1-13; 22:41-44]. It
requires daily struggle to live as Jesus commands.

Jesus made clear that the challenge to co-operate with the divine will
never be easy. Jesus warned:

       If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce
       himself and take up his cross every day and follow me [Luke

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