My Catholic Morals! Study Session One

Session 1 – Who Am I?

Pre-meeting Prep

Participants should be asked to read the Introduction and Chapter One of the My Catholic Morals! book prior to this meeting.

5 minutes – Gather

This initial gathering time is simply an opportunity for everyone to arrive and meet each other.

The leader should make sure, during this initial gathering, that he/she has all contact information of the participants.  Name tags may be of benefit.

5 minutes – Introductions

As the host, gather everyone together and welcome them.  Share a little about yourself and then go around and ask each person to briefly introduce him/herself.

5-10 minutes – Opening prayer and Scripture

Everyone sits quietly and the leader begins with the sign of the Cross and then invites a period of silence in the following way:

“Let us quiet ourselves as we begin this study of our glorious Catholic morals together.  ‘Lord, as we sit here for a minute in silence help each one of us to bring our own questions, concerns, fears and joys to You.  Help us, in this moment of silence to be attentive to Your gentle voice speaking to us, directing us, and calling us to a deeper faith.'”

Take about a minute in silence with eyes closed so that each person can speak to our Lord about their own particular cares and concerns.

Leader reads the following invitation: Let us ponder the Word of God. Let us reflect upon our own faith journey with the following questions: Do I believe?  How deep is my faith?  Am I open to letting God speak to me?  Am I open to the Word of God and willing to let God’s truth sink in more deeply?  Am I willing to let this new faith change my life?

The leader of the night prayerfully reads the following Scriptures, one at a time, pausing for about 30 seconds between each verse:

Matthew 5:3-12: 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 arethe 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.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8:   If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.

Romans 5:18-21: In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.  For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.  The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Leader then says: Let us take a moment in silence reflecting upon these words. (a minute of silence)  

The Leader invites everyone to pray as he/she prays the following prayer out loud:

Lord our God, we thank You for the dignity that You have bestowed upon each one of us enabling us to be called Your sons and daughters.  Help us to always recognize that dignity and embrace it wholeheartedly.

Lord, help us to also enter more deeply into the sacredness of our conscience and to meet You there in it’s depths.  Help us to choose You and Your holy will in all things and to continually turn from all sin.

Lord, within our conscience we pray that You teach us the Truth.  Teach us who You are and all You have spoken to us.  

The prayer time concludes with everyone professing the Apostles Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

45-50 minutes – Discussion questions

Each person should be invited to share something or ask a question if he/she chooses to regarding the questions/discussion starters below.  Go through one question at a time and give each person an opportunity to say something if he/she chooses.  Avoid having one or two persons dominate the discussion.  Go around the circle and do not be afraid to share!  Your insights may assist someone else in their understanding of the topics.  Your question may very well be the same question someone else may have.  Some of the questions below will invite a personal sharing, other questions will invite you to share with others what you read in the chapter for this discussion.  The goal is to share personally and to also make sure that the faith of our Church is clearly expressed and understood by all.

  1. What do you take your identity in?  What do most people take their identity in?  Often times we tend to take our identity in more superficial things such as our looks, accomplishments, social circles, etc.  What should we take our identity in?  Discuss this.
  2. The Beatitudes call us to be who we are made to be at the highest level.  Read through some of the Beatitudes and discuss how easy or hard it is to live them.
  3. Human freedom is essential to the way we live.  If we are not completely free then we cannot be who we are made to be.  Some factors that affect our freedom are the following: ignorance, duress, fear, and other psychological or social factors.  Discuss these factors and the effect that they may have on us and how we make decisions in life.
  4. The morality of an action is determined by three things: 1) the object chosen; 2) the end in view or the intention; 3) the circumstances of the action.  Discuss briefly as a group these three sources of a moral act and try and come up with examples of each.
  5. Discuss the difference between something that we can call Good (capital G) and good (small g).
  6. What role do the passions, feelings and emotions play in our lives regarding moral choices we make?
  7. Understanding the conscience is key to making moral decisions and is key to understanding who we are.  Discuss your understanding of the conscience under the following headings:
    1. Conscience as a secret sanctuary within where we are alone with God.
    2. Erroneous conscience that is guilty.
    3. Erroneous conscience that is not guilty.
  8. The four cardinal virtues, the three theological virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit all help us to live a good moral life.  Share any reflections you have after reading about these.  Share anything that may have stood out.
  9. Sin: share any initial thoughts you have about the section on sin.  What stood out?
  10. Share specifically on the difference between venial and mortal sin.  Try and discuss the clear difference.  Start by discussing the following conditions of a mortal sin:
    1. Grave matter
    2. Full knowledge
    3. Complete consent of the will

20 minutes – Final Reflections and sharing

Go around and give each person an opportunity to share what may have stood out the most to them from the discussion or what left them the most confused so as to gain further clarity or insight from others.

5 minutes – Closing prayer:

Leader begins with the sign of the Cross and invites a minute of silence with all eyes closed.  Each person should reflect upon what was discussed, especially what stood out to him/her the most.

Leader then prays the following prayer:

Lord God, help us to always take our true identity in being Your sons and daughters.  Help us to see that we are made in Your image and to embrace the dignity that comes from that realization.  

Lord, help us to seek always to live the Beatitudes and virtues in our lives.  In discovering these high callings, may we live them fully so as to achieve true happiness.

Lord God, at times we sin and turn away from You.  At times we fail to live up to our high calling in life.  In those moments, help us to always turn from sin and turn back to You.  May we always trust in Your divine mercy and grace.

Jesus, we trust in You.

Leader then invites everyone present to offer their own prayer in the following way (note: this can be done out loud but it may be preferable if it’s done in silence at the discretion of the leader):

Let us now each bring our own personal concerns before our Lord trusting that He hears us and knows all we need.  Let us entrust these prayers to Him with full confidence that He desires to take control.  (take a minute of silence for each person to speak to God their own personal needs).

Leader then invites everyone to close with the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be prayers.