Part 3: The Moral Life and Chapter 12: Handle with Care: Human Dignity, Sin, and Mercy {Lawn Chair Catechism}


Welcome to this summer’s Lawn Chair Catechism! We’re reading Joe Paprocki’s best-selling book, A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic’s Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe. We’re taking it one chapter at a time all summer long.

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This week, we begin Part 3, which covers the moral life. Here’s Joe with a brief introduction to this section of the book:

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Video link

Recognizing someone’s true identity can be challenging. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a parable about recognizing the true identity of others. (You can read it in Matthew 25:31-46.) The key to this parable is in recognizing Jesus’ presence in others. The righteous people say, “Lord, when did we see you . . .” If they had recognized the presence of Jesus in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, and so on, they would have responded differently. The way we respond to others has everything to do with recognizing the presence of Jesus within them.

Human dignity is at the very heart of Catholic morality. The moral life is the third pillar of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In our acronym, H.E.L.P, the L stands for “Living the faith.” To live our faith—to live a moral life—requires us to have an understanding of human dignity, grace, sin, and mercy.

Believing in human dignity, grace, sin, and mercy means that, as Catholics, we see living a moral life as an act of worship. It is a way of aligning ourselves with God, who is love. It means that we cannot separate love of God and love of neighbor. Loving our neighbor is how we encounter God, in whose image we are all made. It means that we strive to treat people with respect and “handle” them with care.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  1. Describe an experience you had of treating someone gruffly (or perhaps just ignoring them), only to find out later that the person was someone of lofty status.
  2. How does Jesus’ Incarnation—his becoming flesh—bring greater dignity to humanity?
  3. Why is it so difficult to recognize the presence of Jesus in others?
  4. What is your understanding of grace?
  5. What is the difference between venial and mortal sin?
  6. Describe your understanding of sins of omission.
  7. Which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you see as most prevalent in today’s society? What can Christians do in response?
  8. What does it mean to live as a person of mercy?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions. You can also share your blog post by linking up below.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 13: Building according to Code: The Commandments, Beatitudes, and Virtues. For the complete reading schedule and information about this summer’s Lawn Chair Catechism, visit the Lawn Chair Catechism page.


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Copyright 2014 Sarah Reinhard


About Author

When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.


  1. Shirley Kandra on

    Sarah…I cannot view Joe’s video for section 3, Chapter 12. I get the folowing message:
    Webpage not available

    The webpage at could not be loaded because:

    Unknown error.

    I am part of Mac Clapp’s group at OLPH in Aurora, Ohio. This class has been so informative for me. Thanks for leading it this summer. Hope you can fix Joe’s youtube above so I can view it.

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