The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education

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Project MUSE - The Schooled Heart

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Arrives by Tuesday, Oct 8. Or get it by Mon, Sep 30 with faster delivery. Pickup not available. ISBN A central purpose of the university is the moral formation of students--what Beaty and Henry call the schooling of the heart.


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About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Customer Reviews. The Christian moral life is one that seeks to cultivate and practice virtue. An effective moral life demands the practice of both human and theological virtues. Human virtues form the soul with the habits of mind and will that support moral behavior, control passions, and avoid sin. Virtues guide our conduct according to the dictates of faith and reason, leading us toward freedom based on self-control and toward joy in living a good moral life.

Compassion, responsibility, a sense of duty, self-discipline and restraint, honesty, loyalty, friendship, courage, and persistence are examples of desirable virtues for sustaining a moral life. Historically, we group the human virtues around what are called the Cardinal Virtues. The four Cardinal Virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.


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There are a number of ways in which we acquire human virtues. They are acquired by frequent repetition of virtuous acts that establish a pattern of virtuous behavior. There is a reciprocal relationship between virtue and acts because virtue, as an internal reality, disposes us to act externally in morally good ways. Yet it is through doing good acts in the concrete that the virtue within us is strengthened and grows. The human virtues are also acquired through seeing them in the good example of others and through education in their value and methods to acquire them.

Stories that inspire us to want such virtues help contribute to their growth within us. They are gained by a strong will to achieve such ideals. The Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and charity love are those virtues that relate directly to God. These are not acquired through human effort but, beginning with Baptism, they are infused within us as gifts from God.

They dispose us to live in relationship with the Holy Trinity. Faith, hope, and charity influence human virtues by increasing their stability and strength for our lives. Each of the Ten Commandments forbids certain sins, but each also points to virtues that will help us avoid such sins. Virtues such as generosity, poverty of spirit, gentleness, purity of heart, temperance, and fortitude assist us in overcoming and avoiding what are called the seven deadly or Capital Sins—pride, avarice or greed, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth or laziness—which are those sins that engender other sins and vices.

Our culture frequently exalts individual autonomy against community and tradition. This can lead to a suspicion of rules and norms that come from a tradition. This can also be a cause of a healthy criticism of a legalism that can arise from concentrating on rules and norms.

The Responsible Practice of Freedom

Advocates of Christian morality can sometimes lapse into a legalism that leads to an unproductive moralizing. There is no doubt that love has to be the essential foundation of the moral life. But just as essential in this earthly realm are rules and laws that show how love may be applied in real life. In heaven, love alone will suffice. In this world, we need moral guidance from the Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Precepts of the Church and other rules to see how love works.

Love alone, set adrift from moral direction, can easily descend into sentimentality that puts us at the mercy of our feelings. Popular entertainment romanticizes love and tends to omit the difficult demands of the moral order. In our permissive culture, love is sometimes so romanticized that it is separated from sacrifice. Because of this, tough moral choices cannot be faced.

The absence of sacrificial love dooms the possibility of an authentic moral life. Scripturally and theologically, the Christian moral life begins with a loving relationship with God, a covenant love made possible by the sacrifice of Christ. The Commandments and other moral rules are given to us as ways of protecting the values that foster love of God and others. They provide us with ways to express love, sometimes by forbidding whatever contradicts love.

The moral life requires grace. The Catechism speaks of this in terms of life in Christ and the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, actively enlightening our moral compass and supplying the spiritual strength to do the right thing.

The grace that comes to us from Christ in the Spirit is as essential as love and rules and, in fact, makes love and keeping the rules possible. Print Share Calendar Diocesan Locator. Made in the Image of God The most basic principle of the Christian moral life is the awareness that every person bears the dignity of being made in the image of God.

The Responsible Practice of Freedom The second element of life in Christ is the responsible practice of freedom.

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The Understanding of Moral Acts Another important foundation of Christian morality is the understanding of moral acts. The Reality of Sin and Trust in God's Mercy We cannot speak about life in Christ or the moral life without acknowledging the reality of sin, our own sinfulness, and our need for God's mercy. The Formation of Conscience The formation of a good conscience is another fundamental element of Christian moral teaching.

Love, Rules and Grace Our culture frequently exalts individual autonomy against community and tradition. By accepting this message, you will be leaving the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.