RCIA – The Third Sunday of Advent – Catholic Doctrine
So what does the Church teach us about moral conversion and preparing for the coming of Christ?
The Catechism says human beings are created by God with an openness to truth and beauty, a sense of moral goodness, freedom and the inner voice of conscience. We long for the infinite and for happiness (CCC 33). Even those people who have not accepted the good news in Jesus are capable of making distinctions between what is good and what is evil and acting accordingly. God has written his law in our hearts.
The Church teaches that moral conversion is possible by all and needed by all. The final document of the Second Vatican Council said let everyone consider it a sacred duty to count social obligations among one’s chief duties and observe them as such. This will be realized only if individuals and groups practice moral and social virtues and foster them in social living. Then there will arise a new generation, the molders of a new humanity.
Moral conversion is accomplished in many ways through daily living. Gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice, the admission of one’s faults, fraternal correction, and acceptance of suffering are outward signs of this moral conversion (CCC 1435). Moral conversion takes time and practice, but it is accessible to all. Again, God has written this desire for goodness in our hearts, but we must practice the virtues and have the desire to be truly good.
The cardinal virtues have been a part of Catholic theology for a long time. They are key elements that assist us in our moral conversion. The Latin word cardo, means hinge, and so our moral conversion hinges on our practice of the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. (CCC 1805)
- Prudence, also described as “practical wisdom,” enables its subject to discern specific actions that will best fulfill the requirements of authentic, virtuous living in particular situations.
- Justice disposes one to practice fairness in dealing with others.
- Fortitude enables a person to aim for the good in the face of contrary fears.
- Temperance helps the individual to maintain correct balance and appropriate limits in pursuing sensual pleasure.
These cardinal virtues forge character and ultimately dispose the individual to communion with divine love (CCC 1810, 1804).