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May 13, 2009
Following a Moral Compass
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

As we think about end-of-year topics, it is good to remind our students about the backbone of Catholic teaching: living moral lives that keep gospel values. It is a tough subject that doesn’t always sync with cultural values. Yet, we may be the only voice for a right path that our students will ever hear.
—Jeanne Hunt
Reinforcing Moral Choices
The moral compass can get conveniently misplaced in the fast lane of family life. Television programs that are not monitored, academic discussions that undermine our faith and even friendships with unchurched children can create a subtle weakening of our Catholic moral values. The catechetical setting is a wonderful place to reinforce the moral choices and teach the process by which we develop a strong moral conscience. In the old Baltimore Catechism there was always a situation/ethics question in each chapter. I can remember thinking through those situations and learning how to apply a moral law that made sense in my world. As you plan each week’s lesson, consider adding a moral discussion question that fits your theme.
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A Little Moral Backbone
The longer I teach religion, the more I realize that we must be prepared to challenge the conscience of young adults between ages 12 and 18. Adolescence is the time when catechists must bring strong resources to aid our students in making moral decisions. They have no support from our culture or even their academic environment. The world is quick to proclaim that something is not wrong if it pleases you, and it is not wrong unless you get caught! So, how do we catechists prepare to confront moral issues with our students? I would like to recommend Catholic and Christian for Young Adults: Questions and Answers About the Faith by Alan Schreck, Why Are Catholics So Concerned About Sin by Al Kresta, and I Choose God: Stories From Young Catholics by Chris Cuddy and Peter Erickson. These remarkable resources will provide a wealth of backbone for your lessons on Catholic moral teaching.
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Video Resource on Christian Morality

The oft-quoted line from the movie “Pinocchio”—“Always let your conscience be your guide”—could be taken straight from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Its phrasing is “A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience” (#1790).

While we are to be guided by our consciences, we must also ensure that they are well formed. This requires an effort to search the Scriptures, pray for guidance and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, seek the advice of others and consult the teachings of the Church.

A common mindset of many adults is that one’s conscience rules—which is, in fact, what the Church teaches. But often these same adults do little to form their consciences so that their consciences can “rule” their actions in upright, truthful and enlightened ways. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this situation: “The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings” (#1783).

While your parishioners may be rightfully outraged by those whose immoral choices have far-reaching consequences and so make the national news, each of us is required to do our part in ensuring that our own moral compass is pointing us in a virtuous direction for all of the big and not-so-big decisions we make.

I’ve selected a video clip from the DVD program Making Sense of Christian Morality With Richard Sparks, C.S.P. to share with you (RealMedia | Windows Media). This program contains four 25-minute presentations. The clip I’ve selected is from the first presentation: “Christian Moral Living: The Challenge and the Possibility.” Share one or all four of these presentations with adults, young and old, who strive to inform their consciences and live moral lives.

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A Father’s Day Gift for Dad’s Soul
Father’s Day is just around the corner, and I suspect that good ol’ Dad has his fill of neckties and BBQ tools. Let me suggest a gift for your Dad’s soul. A Guy’s Guide to the Good Life, Virtues for Men, by Robert Lockwood, is a wonderful book that will keep giving long after those Father’s Day hamburgers have been eaten. This small book would fit into the glove compartment, next to the bed or even on a workbench. Kevin Lynch, cofounder and president of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men, says it well: “Reading A Guy’s Guide to the Good Life is like settling down with a cold beer on a warm night with a friend.” Bob Lockwood writes in a down-to-earth, conversational style that draws you in. Most of us guys are not lucky enough to have a friend who talks with such candor and humor as Bob. What a gift this is: a place to think about the good life with another guy who knows what it is all about.

While you’re treating Dad to a little soul food, don’t forget your own spiritual needs as well. Take a few moments to review our Web sites:,,, and
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