Making Our Faith Simple-Yet-Not-Simplistic: The Moral Life

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As we continue looking at the four pillars of our Catholic Faith (Creed, Sacraments, Moral Life, and Prayer) through the lens of my book, A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic’s Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe, we now move on to the third pillar, the Moral Life. Our goal, once again, is to make our Catholic faith simple-yet-not-simplistic.

So, how do we make the moral life “simple-yet-not-simplistic”?

We need to be especially cautious in this area, because morality is no simple matter, and many moral issues can become incredibly complex. By the same token, the principles that guide our moral decision-making are simple: we are to love others as God has loved us and love our neighbor as ourself. Unfortunately, we live in an era in which we too often allow our decisions to be guided primarily by our political affiliation rather than by these principles. Many complex issues have compelling arguments that can be made on both sides of the issue. However, for Catholics, the beginning point is always that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and are deserving of all that is needed to provide for their human dignity, such as food, shelter, clothing, and employment. Any policy we advocate for must be guided and shaped by those moral principles.

St. John made the moral life “simple-yet-not-simplistic” when he taught that, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20) While moral issues can get very complex, we are called to keep things “simple” by ensuring that our guiding principle is love of neighbor.

One of the more curious lines in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is found in paragraph 2031, which states that, “the moral life is spiritual worship.” In other words, when we love our neighbor as ourself and treat him or her with respect and dignity, our very actions give praise to God, since love of God and love of neighbor cannot be separated.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

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