Why is it good to be good?
Christian human perfection is a spiritual union with God, which can be attained in this life. However, it exists alongside human misery, rebellious passions, and venial sin; therefore, it is not absolute perfection.
If Christ exhorts us to “be perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect,” just how does one go about ‘doing’ this? Does human perfection consist in an assent to a set of “values” or “beliefs”? Is perfection measured by the strength with which we adhere to a certain “moral code”? The Catholic Church, in her wisdom, answers these questions with a resounding “No.” Instead, she points us to an ancient, all but forgotten, notion for which the modern culture now starves: virtue.
In this Avila Institute mini-course “Christian Human Perfection,” we will attempt to distill the Church’s perennial moral teaching into an overarching, but penetrating, vision of the good life. Why is it good to be good? In what does happiness consist? What is a virtue, and how is it attained? These examinations will include a survey of the Catholic understanding of the virtues, both natural and supernatural (as well as their opposing vices). Replete with practical tips, this course will serve well as an introduction to moral theology. The class is geared toward everyday spiritual growth. Our approach to the questions of Christian perfection will come through the ascetic rather than the mystical point of view, as well as give special attention to the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. It will be a fitting prequel to the upcoming six-week Avila Institute Course, “Contemplative Prayer and the Angelic Doctor.” Register here for the mini-course “Christian Human Perfection.”
“Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained by man’s own will.” – St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Prima Secundae Partis, Question 2.
Open to the public, students with any level of education, Catholic or not, are welcome to enroll. The mini-course will be taught by John Johnson on Friday, September 15 at 8:30 pm – 10:30 pm Eastern time (EST).
Register here to take a Fall course at The Avila Institute called “Contemplative Prayer and the Angelic Doctor.” This class is geared towards Christians seeking deeper mystical union with the One who is loving us into being. It will be given Fridays on Nov 10, 17, Dec 1, 15, 22, Jan 5 at 8:30 – 10:30 pm EST. Check out more information on another course called “Angels and Demons” here.
Art for this post on human perfection: church-bank-wood-benches-christian, Michael Gaida, July 13, 2016, CC0 Creative Commons, Pixabay. Portions of this article were written by John Johnson. St. Thomas Aquinas quote taken from the Summa Theologica.