Moral Theology

Conscience and Prayer: The Spirit of Catholic Moral Theology

By: Dennis J. Billy and James Keating February 23, 2015 No Comments

It would be difficult to identify two more foundational elements of the moral life and the spiritual life than conscience and prayer. They are the two legs with which Christians set out each day to walk with Christ on their journey to God. As scholars have attempted to understand the impact of spirituality on all areas of human existence, some have examined these two elements separately, but none has discerned the connection between the two. By making clear that connection, Keating and Billy have opened up new understandings into the nature of Catholic spiritual moral life. The authors offer a means for religious educators, preachers, spiritual directors, and parents to meet the tremendous challenges they face forming their charges in today’s world. Keating and Billy also provide a succinct statement of how an integrated understanding of prayer and conscience helps Christian ethical reflection steer clear of the extremes of rationalism and fideism. Conscience and Prayer begins with a definition of the terms and examines their historical interaction. It then provides the anthropological foundations for “reason’s spiritual rebirth” and discusses the role of prayer in Catholic moral theological reflection. Next it presents “rapt listening” as the way prudence manifests itself in the spiritual moral lives of believers. Following this, it examines some of the key elements involved in what has typically been referred to as “putting on the mind of Christ.” Finally, it looks at the practical implications of what listening to Christ and his body in prayer means for conscience formation. Chapters are “The Reciprocity of Prayer and Conscience: Historical Considerations,” “Spirit and Reason: Retrieving Lost Connections,” “Listening, Prayer, and Conscience Formation,” “Prayer and Conscience: Openness to the Truth in Christ,” and “Jesus as the Norm of the Spiritual Moral Life: Some Pastoral Considerations.”

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