Morality: The Catholic Viewby Servais O.P. Pinckaers, Michael O.P. Sherwin
In this slender and elegantly written volume, Pinckaers offers us the biblical and patristic conception of the moral life as this conception was developed by St. Thomas Aquinas. From this perspective, the moral life is a life of virtue rooted in the human person's natural desire for happiness. God's grace elevates and heals this natural desire so that through the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the moral life becomes a "life in Christ" guided by the Spirit.
Father Pinckaers sharply distinguishes this view of morality from modern "moralities of obligation," which regard the moral life primarily as obedience to rules that limit human freedom and curb human desires. Pinckaers sees moralities of obligation as the logical outcome of a new understanding of human freedom. Instead of regarding freedom as the capacity to engage in excellent acts of virtue (freedom for excellence), the modern view understands freedom as the radical ability to do good or evil indifferently (freedom of indifference). Pinckaers argues convincingly that this view of freedom and the morality of obligation that flows from it have impoverished the Catholic understanding of the moral life. What is needed is a return to the richer biblical and patristic perspective. With St. Thomas as his guide, Father Pinckaers offers the reader a compelling itinerary of moral development, rooted in the theology of St. Paul and the morality of the Gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount.
Pinckaers developed this argument at length in his earlier study, The Sources of Christian Ethics. In Morality: The Catholic View, he offers his insights in a manner accessible to a wider audience. The work isdivided into two parts. The first part sketches the history of Catholic moral theology, spanning from its Gospel sources to the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath. The second part presents Pinckaers's renewed understanding of the moral life: It is "life in Christ" guided by the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to live the Sermon on the Mount and to attain the happiness of the Beatitudes.
- St. Augustine's Press
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