13 Deciding between Right and Wrong (Moral Action)

posted 26 Feb 2013, 12:52 by Fr Peter Weatherby   [ updated 26 Feb 2013, 13:47 ]

Making Decisions

In life we are faced with many decisions - especially when we come into adulthood. Everything from what we wear, to what we eat, to what job we do - these are decisions we have to take. 

Some decisions are clearly just a matter of choice and personal preference. What we choose to eat, for example, or what clothes we wear, are probably just preferences. 

Other decisions though have a moral dimension, however. Whether to keep an item we find, or not to reveal some information to another person - these are not simply a matter of choice. 

How do we decide between Right and Wrong? 

As human beings we have free will. This means we can direct our own lives and can choose to do good. It also means we can choose something which is Wrong. 

God wants us to choose what is good - but he does not force us to do good. Good action must come from our free will. 

Moral Action

Actions with a moral aspect are Moral Actions. 
They come about by an act of will. 
We are responsible for these actions. 
They are either good or evil (bad). 

What is sin?

Sin is a deliberately bad action - something done, or not done, against God's will. 

Sins usually pervert (distort) something good which God has given us in our human nature (e.g. greed or lust)

At the root of all sin is pride, because it places us above God. 

Mortal and venial sin

But surely some sins are much worse than others?

The Church carefully distinguishes between mortal (serious) sin and other sins which are "venial". 

For a sin to be mortal there must be: 
  • a serious (grave) matter
  • full knowledge that the sin is wrong
  • full consent to what is being done.

If these three conditions are not met, then the sin is not mortal. 

Mortal sins must be brought to confession. Venial sins are forgiven through prayer, receiving communion, acts of mercy or devotion. 

How can we do good?

Doing good is not easy. We tend to find sin attractive. This seen to be the consequence of Original Sin. 

To do good we must have a good conscience, good habits, and rely on God's grace through prayer and the sacraments.

What is temptation?

Temptation is the battlefield between Good and Evil. Remember that even Christ himself was tempted. 

Our opponents in this battle are
The World - the bad influences around us
The Flesh - our own desires, yearning for pleasure and avoiding discomfort. 
The Devil - powers which influence and persuade us to do wrong.

The Victory of Christ

Jesus is victorious over the world, the flesh and the devil in his death and resurrection from the dead. We should call upon his help and trust in his victory.