320 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived
• The best way to have more freedom is to perform good acts. Good
deeds make us free. The road to loss of freedom is through evil acts.
Sin makes us slaves of evil and reduces our capacity to be free.
• Every moral act consists of three elements: the objective act (what
we do), the subjective goal or intention (why we do the act), and
the concrete situation or circumstances in which we perform the act
(where, when, how, with whom, the consequences, etc.). All three
elements must be good for the act to be morally acceptable.
• Moral laws assist us in determining what is good or bad. Some acts
are always wrong—that is, intrinsically evil—and may never be
done, no matter what the intention or the circumstances.
• “Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person
recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act” (CCC, no. 1796).
• A good conscience requires lifelong formation. The Word of God is
a principal shaper of conscience when assimilated by study, prayer,
and practice. The prudent advice and good example of others sup-
port and enlighten our consciences. The authoritative teaching of the
Church is an essential element in our conscience formation.
• A good conscience makes judgments that conform to reason and the
good that is willed by the wisdom of God.
• We “must always obey the certain judgment of [our] conscience.
Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments.
Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt” (CCC, nos.
• An effective moral life demands the practice of human and Theolog
ical Virtues. Such virtues train 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. We group these virtues around the Cardinal Virtues of pru-
dence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.
• We will benefit greatly from practicing the Theological Virtues of
faith, hope, and charity. We receive these virtues from God. They are
called theological because they dispose us to live in relationship with
the Holy Trinity. Faith, hope, and love influence our human virtues
by increasing their stability and strength for our lives.