Read the catechism in a year 

This text comes from the YOUCAT – an accessible expression of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a simple Q & A format.

Copyright © 2011 by Ignatius Press, San Francisco.
Sponsored by Lighthouse Catholic Media, NFP. Powered by Flocknote.

Day 218 – Intro to “How We Are to Have Life in Christ”

Why do we need faith and the sacraments in order to live a good, upright life? 

If we were to rely only on ourselves and our own strength, we would not get far in our attempts to be good. Through faith we discover that we are God’s children and that God makes us strong. When God gives us his strength, we call this “grace”. Especially in the sacred signs that we call the sacraments, God gives us the ability actually to do the good that we want to do.

Since God saw our misery, he “delivered us from the dominion of darkness” (Col 1:13) through his Son, Jesus Christ. He granted us the opportunity to make a new start in fellowship with him and to walk the path of love. (YOUCAT question 279)

Day 219 – The Dignity of the Human Person

What reasons do Christians give for human dignity? 

Every person, from the first moment of his life in the womb, has an inviolable dignity, because from all eternity God willed, loved, created, and redeemed that person and destined him for eternal happiness.

If human dignity were based solely on the successes and accomplishments of individuals, then those who are weak, sick, or helpless would have no dignity. Christians believe that human dignity is, in the first place, the result of God’s respect for us. He looks at every person and loves him as though he were the only creature in the world. Because God has looked upon even the least significant child of Adam, that person possesses an infinite worth, which must not be destroyed by men.
Why do we yearn for happiness? 

God has placed in our hearts such an infinite desire for happiness that nothing can satisfy it but God himself. All earthly fulfillment gives us only a foretaste of eternal happiness. Above and beyond that, we should be drawn to God. (YOUCAT questions 280-281)

Day 220 – The Beatitudes

Does Sacred Scripture speak about a way to happiness?  

We become happy by trusting in Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes.

The Gospel is a promise of happiness to all people who wish to walk in God’s ways. Especially in the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3–12), Jesus has told us specifically that eternal blessedness (blessing) is based on our following his example and seeking peace with a pure heart.

What are the beatitudes?

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:3–12)

Why are the Beatitudes so important?

Those who yearn for the kingdom of God look to Jesus’ list of priorities: the Beatitudes.

From Abraham on, God made promises to his people. Jesus takes them up, extends their application to heaven, and makes them the program for his own life: the Son of God becomes poor so as to share our poverty; he rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep (Rom 12:15); he employs no violence but rather turns the other cheek (Mt 5:39); he has mercy, makes peace, and thereby shows us the sure way to heaven. (YOUCAT questions 282-284)

Day 221 – Happiness and Freedom

What is eternal happiness? 

Eternal happiness is seeing God and being taken up into God’s happiness.

In God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit there is unending life, joy, and communion. To be taken up into it will be an incomprehensible, infinite happiness for us men. This happiness is the pure gift of God’s grace, for we men can neither bring it about ourselves nor comprehend it in its magnitude. God would like us to decide in favor of our happiness; we should choose God freely, love him above all things, do good and avoid evil insofar as we are able.

What is freedom and what is it for? 

Freedom is the God-given power to be able to act of one’s own accord; a person who is free no longer acts under the influence of someone else.

God created us as free men and wills our freedom so that we might decide wholeheartedly in favor of the good, indeed for the greatest “good”—in other words, for God. The more we do what is good, the freer we become.  (YOUCAT questions 285-286)

Day 222 – Freedom and Responsibility

But doesn’t “freedom” consist of being able to choose evil as well? 

Evil is only apparently worth striving for, and deciding in favor of evil only apparently makes us free. Evil does not make us happy but rather deprives us of what is truly good; it chains us to something futile and in the end destroys our freedom entirely.

We see this in addiction: Here a person sells his freedom to something that appears good to him. In reality he becomes a slave. Man is freest when he is always able to say Yes to the good; when no addiction, no compulsion, no habit prevents him from choosing and doing what is right and good. A decision in favor of the good is always a decision leading toward God.

Is man responsible for everything he does? 

Man is responsible for everything he does consciously and voluntarily.

No one can be held (fully) responsible for something he did under coercion, out of fear, ignorance, under the influence of drugs or the power of bad habits. The more a person knows about the good and practices the good, the more he moves away from the slavery of sin (Rom 6:17; 1 Cor 7:22). God desires that such free persons should (be able to) take responsibility for themselves, for their environment, and for the whole earth. But all of God’s merciful love is also for those who are not free; every day he offers them an opportunity to allow themselves to be set free for freedom. (YOUCAT questions 287-288)

Day 223 – “Set Free for Freedom”

Must we allow a person to use his free will, even when he decides in favor of evil? 

For a person to be able to use his freedom is a fundamental right based on his human dignity. An individual’s freedom can be curtailed only if the exercise of his freedom is detrimental to human dignity and the freedom of others.

Freedom would be no freedom at all if it were not the freedom to choose even what is wrong. It would violate the dignity of a man if we did not respect his freedom. One of the central duties of the State is to protect the liberties of all its citizens (freedom of religion, of assembly, and association, freedom of opinion, freedom to choose one’s occupation, and so on). The freedom of one citizen is the limit to the freedom of another.

How does God help us to be free men? 

Christ wants us to be “set free for freedom” (see Gal 5:1) and to become capable of brotherly love. That is why he sends us the Holy Spirit, who makes us free and independent of worldly powers and strengthens us for a life of love and responsibility.

The more we sin, the more we think only about ourselves and the less well we can develop freely. In sinning we also become more inept at doing good and practicing charity. The Holy Spirit, who has come down into our hearts, gives us a heart that is filled with love for God and mankind. We avail ourselves of the Holy Spirit as the power that leads us to inner freedom, opens our hearts for love, and makes us better instruments for what is good and loving.  (YOUCAT questions 289-290)

Day 224 – Distinguishing between “Good” and “Bad” Actions

How can a person tell whether his action is good or bad? 

A person is capable of distinguishing good actions from bad ones because he possesses reason and a conscience, which enable him to make clear judgments.

The following guidelines make it easier to distinguish good actions from bad ones: (1)What I do must be good; a good intention alone is not enough. Bank robbery is always bad, even if I commit that crime with the good intention of giving the money to poor people. (2) Even when what I do is truly good, if I perform the good action with a bad intention, it makes the whole action bad. If I walk an elderly woman home and help her around the house, that is good. But if I do it while planning a later break-in, that makes the whole action something bad. (3) The circumstances in which someone acts can diminish his responsibility, but they cannot change at all the good or bad character of an action. Hitting one’s mother is always bad, even if the mother has previously shown little love to the child.

May we do something bad so that good can result from it?

No, we may never deliberately do something evil or tolerate an evil so that good can result from it. Sometimes there is no other course of action but to tolerate a lesser evil in order to prevent a greater evil.

The end does not justify the means. It cannot be right to commit infidelity so as to stabilize one’s marriage. It is just as wrong to use embryos for stem cell research, even if one could thereby make medical breakthroughs. It is wrong to try to “help” a rape victim by aborting her child. (YOUCAT questions 291-292)

Day 225 – Passions and Emotions

Why did God give us “passions” or emotions? 

We have passions so that through strong emotions and distinct feelings we might be attracted to what is right and good and repelled from what is evil and bad.

God made man in such a way that he can love and hate, desire or despise something, be attracted by some things and afraid of others, be full of joy, sorrow, or anger. In the depths of his heart man always loves good and hates evil—or what he considers to be such.

Is someone a sinner if he experiences strong passions within himself? 

No, passions can be very valuable. They are designed to lead to and reinforce good actions; only when they are disordered do the passions contribute to evil.

Passions that are ordered to the good become virtues. They then become the motive force of a life of fighting for love and justice. Passions that overpower a person, rob him of his freedom and entice him to evil, we call vice.  (YOUCAT questions 293-294)

Day 226 – The Conscience

What is conscience? 

Conscience is the inner voice in a man that moves him to do good under any circumstances and to avoid evil by all means. At the same time it is the ability to distinguish the one from the other. In the conscience God speaks to man.

Conscience is compared with an inner voice in which God manifests himself in a man. God is the one who becomes apparent in the conscience. When we say, “I cannot reconcile that with my conscience”, this means for a Christian, “I cannot do that in the sight of my Creator!” Many people have gone to jail or been executed because they were true to their conscience.

Can someone be compelled to do something that is against his conscience? 

No one may be compelled to act against his conscience, provided he acts within the limits of the common good.

Anyone who overlooks the conscience of a person, ignores it and uses coercion, violates that person’s dignity. Practically nothing else makes man more human than the gift of being able personally to distinguish good from evil and to choose between them. This is so even if the decision, seen in an objective light, is wrong. Unless man’s conscience has been incorrectly formed, the inner voice speaks in agreement with what is generally reasonable, just, and good in God’s sight.  (YOUCAT questions 295-296)



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