Consent and Morose Delectation

Moral theology is a beautiful thing to reflect on when one is reflecting on our happiness and the virtues by which we are ordered to it. But, alas, it is also necessary for moral theology to reflect on the ugliness of sin. This should not take an inordinately important place in moral reflections, but a certain amount is necessary, and actually helpful. I have been getting a number of Curious Cat questions recently on the sin known in moral theology under the fittingly ugly name of ‘morose delectation’. The most recent question dealt more generally with the problem of consent in internal sins:

What is a directly elicited act of the will (a term you’ve used in answering several other questions)? Perhaps relatedly, can you provide any principles for discerning whether one has fully consented to an act which is objectively grave matter? I know that anxiety, sleepiness, and distraction can sometimes vitiate consent but I don’t know how to tell whether one of these or some other factor is present to a sufficient extent in specific cases (in terms of deciding whether I can receive/need to go to Confession).

My response was too long for the Curious Cat format, so I paste it here. The subject is distasteful, but since it is a problem that is often brought up in confession, I hope that the response will none the less be helpful. Continue reading

The Good is in Things

A man who lives much at a club is apt to fall into a selfish mode of life. He is taught to think that his own comfort should always be the first object. A man can never be happy unless his first objects are outside himself. (Anthony Trollope, The Duke’s Children)

Dubia and Initiating Processes

I am very grateful to the four cardinals who submitted dubia about the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia to the Holy Father. With humility and reverence before the Vicar of Christ, and “supreme teacher of the faith,” they ask him to answer some specific questions about how Amoris Laetitia is consistent with previous teachings of the Church. As they note, uncertainty has been caused by conflicting interpretations, and they ask the Holy Father to bring clarity by responding definitely to their questions. Continue reading