WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Karen Koester directs the Nothing More Beautiful Choir and leads the congregation in singing at the April 19 secession of Nothing More Beautiful.
The moral life of a Christian is beautiful because it is inspired by communion with the aspirations of humanity to goodness and happiness, said the primate of the Church in Canada.
Although many people today do not believe in God and follow their own paths, "we who believe that Christ is the way and the truth find comfort in him," Archbishop Gerald Lacroix told the April 19 session of Nothing More Beautiful.
"He is the model we can imitate and follow because the values that guided his life are beacons on our own journey to make life beautiful."
The archbishop of Quebec said today when Charters of Rights and Freedoms provide the foundation of respect in progressive societies, Christians may rejoice in that these values are fundamentally what Christ expects from his disciples.
Lacroix spoke on the Beauty of the Moral Life at St. Joseph's Basilica. Moira McQueen, a professor of moral theology and executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, gave the witness presentation.
Nothing More Beautiful is an archdiocesan program for the new evangelization. This year's five sessions focus on the Beauty of Discipleship.
Christians are expected to find beauty and happiness by conducting their lives in accordance with the values that guided Jesus himself, Lacroix said.
The most important values in the Lord's life are those that inspire us to discover and appreciate the moral beauty of life, he said.
"It is important for us to reflect on these values in order to be in perfect harmony with the way Christ expects his disciples to live and to become witness of God's presence in today's world."
The dignity of the human person, of women in particular, was a fundamental value in how Christ led his life. This should help Christians choose those values in their daily lives, Lacroix said.
Social justice is another important value praised by Jesus in his ministry despite the anger provoked by many of his decisions.
"He is most welcoming towards the poor, the desperate, those who no longer have reasons for hope and compassion because they have been rejected by the 'good society' of their time."
Non-violence and forgiveness are also important values brought to us by Jesus, "who showed mercy and spoke of love in a time when slavery was the lot of many, when class prejudice was common, when life was harsh for many men and women and led them to despair," Lacroix said.
The mission of the Church, the archbishop said, is to recall these teachings insistently, clearly and surely.
McQueen spoke about her personal journey and then about her vocation, saying she and her husband didn't plan to come to Canada from Scotland. "It happened to us, and we said 'yes,'" she said.
"We didn't plan to have a big family, but we decided we would be open to that, and we have never regretted it. I didn't plan to be a theologian (she had previously worked as a lawyer), but lots of moral decisions in my life led me to pursue that path."
McQueen doesn't see being a theologian as a career, the way she saw law. "It's a vocation, and I am fortunate to be teaching in a theology faculty while also being engaged outside the university in parish and civic life through my work in bioethics for the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute."
Sometimes when the terms "moral theology" and "bioethics" come up, people become wary, thinking they are in for some heavy preaching – someone haranguing them about what's right and what's wrong, she said.
"But that is not what it's about," McQueen said. "If we are Catholic, our morals and our values are based on the teaching and example of Christ and his followers."
For McQueen, the beauty of moral theology is that it stands on the firm belief that "every single one of us is made in God's image, not in the image of some transient government, court of law or philosophy."
Added McQueen: "The true beauty of the moral life for me as a Christian rests on my relationship with God, and with Christ, and with the Spirit. The Great Commandment is absolutely foundational: love God and love your neighbour as yourself."
(The full text of Archbishop Lacroix's talk. Moira McQueen's talk will be presented in next week's issue of the WCR.)