Tambara, the Journal of Ateneo de Davao University, in their December 2009 issue, printed a review by Archimedes A. Lachica, SJ, of BCBP’s book Evangelizing Presence: Living the Moral Life Today. Fr. Lachica in his review commends the book for being “an apt and relevant guide for those who seek direction in forming one’s moral life according to Christian moral principles and praxis.”

He continues, “More importantly, the book engages those who are looking for guidance in tackling moral, sometimes ambiguous ethical, issues and dilemmas in the ‘marketplace,’ may it be in public arena or business sphere. … The significance of this work lies in its challenge to develop a ‘spirituality’ or a way of life that, in a process of purification, change, and conversion, conforms to Christ and becomes alter Christi.”

The complete review follows. It may also be read on the SPECIAL FEATURES/Articles and Features of this website.

Giordano, Pasquale T., SJ, and Catan, Nancy Russell. 2007. Evangelizing Presence: Living the moral life today. Manila: The Philippine Foundation of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals. 141 pages.

What does it mean to live one’s moral life? Is living one’s moral life evangelizing? From a Christian and, specifically Catholic perspective, Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Veritatis Splendor (VS), provides an insight: “It is Christ, the last Adam, who fully discloses man to himself and unfolds his noble calling by revealing the mystery of the Father and the Father’s love” (VS, no. 2, citing Gaudium et spes, no. 22). Jesus, in his very person, “fulfils” the natural law which universally binding norms are moral absolutes and which “re-affirmation” is the “central” theme of the encyclical.

Commenting on the encyclical, moral theologian William May notes, “Thus to live a Catholic moral life is in essence to follow Christ, sequela Christi.”(See Note below). Following Christ, John Paul writes, is the essential and primordial foundation of Christian morality and following him “involves holding fast to the very person of Jesus” (VS, no. 19). It means “becoming conformed to Him who became a servant even to giving himself on the Cross (Phil. 2:5-8, VS, no. 21). In this context, evangelization finds its resonance. What is proclaimed is not only the truths of faith and moral precepts alone but also the following of Christ in His humanity and by appropriating His values and attitudes. Thus, for Christians, living one’s moral life as sequela Christi is a proclamation of the Good News. This, in effect, is an evangelizing presence.

How can this affirmation of living one’s moral life as evangelizing presence be formed? Fr. Pasquale T. Giordano, SJ (formerly associate editor of the Tambara and chairperson of the Theology Division of Ateneo de Davao University) and Nancy Russell Catan’s Evangelizing presence: Living the moral life today is an apt and relevant guide for those who seek direction in forming one’s moral life according to Christian principles and praxis. More importantly, the book engages those who are looking for guidance in tackling moral, sometimes ambiguous ethical, issues and dilemmas in the “marketplace,” may it be in public arena or business sphere.

Given initially as a series of lectures to the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), the third volume of the series Evangelizing presence presents a link between integral evangelization and fundamental moral theology. Important concepts and principles of Catholic moral theology and Christian anthropology such as the human person, conscience, freedom, moral norms, among others, are treated comprehensively and succinctly. Organized in clearly defined topics with coherent exposition of key concepts and appropriate principles behind them, the reader learns to approach moral issues with a clear understanding of the mores and values involved, as well as the implications of his/her decision towards moral growth ad intra and social development or transformation ad extra.

What is interesting and helpful in this book are the discussion topics and case studies at the end of each section or module that engage and stimulate the readers to explore the principles presented and seek their use in moral decision in actual cases. Thus, this book not only encourages personal learning but also engages the person to interact with others. College teachers of moral theology and adult catechists will certainly find this book invaluable for their instruction and group discussion.

Moral theology is often perceived as cumbersome and daunting for many people and especially to students of theology. More than just a theoretical exposition of morals principles and norms and an enumeration of what’s right and wrong, morality and ethics can also be best appreciated if presented in ways that both engage the mind and heart as well as impel the person to go beyond the self towards others. In this perspective, Giordano and Catan’s book provides an important guidance and relevant contribution in the formation of a just and moral life, grounded in the Spirit of Christ and nurtured by the community of faith and a human fellowship of good will. Moreover, the significance of this work lies in its challenge to develop a “spirituality” or a way of life that, in a process of purification, change, and conversion, conforms to Christ and becomes alter Christi.

Archimedes A. Lachica, SJ

Note: The above reference is taken from William E. May’s talk “New evangelization, Catholic moral life in the light of Veritatis Splendor” at the Catholic University of American, Washington, DC, May 2003, 5.

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