Father Jose Lavastida, STD 6/24/2016


Father shared that today is the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Sr. La’s Feastday announced. He has a doctorate in Bioethics. He spent the last 20yrs as a Navy Chaplain 1997-2017. Now the Navy is giving him opportunity to go back to school and he is finishing his doctorate in Law. Law was his first choice from the beginning, but the opportunity was not there at first. But now, the Navy is paying for his schooling. The are a lot of professors from all over the world who comes to teach Law. There’s one particular German professor who shared that he walked around the block to see his American neighbors. There are fences everywhere. And he came to the conclusion that in the US when they ask you “can I help you?” that often means you’re in the wrong place.

Moral Theology

Moral Theology- He states he’s not here to tell us “what to do”. Moral theology is not canon law and don’t confuse them together. Moral theology is one type of systematic theology, it’s a process, a way of understanding the way we think and make choices

There’s dogmatic theology concerning the dogma of the Church. Some saints believe it, some challenge it. An example is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. At first, St. Thomas Aquinas did not believe this. There are 2 ways a person can be saved: 1. Saved after we sinned 2. Being preserved from sin which is in the case of Mary. She was preserved. The question is raised “Does Jesus sin?” That is a case of dogmatic theology and the answer is no because he is the Son of God. The temptation to sin is there, but he does not sin.

He gave us a general layout of topics covered the next 3 days:
1. Moral Theology
2. Sexual Ethics/Bioethics
3. Social teachings of the Church

Moral Theology deals with basic principles. There are main principles that we abide to

1. The first is always to preserve the dignity of the human person. We want to do what is right. St. John Paul II on the issue of moral theology concerning capital punishment he approached it differently. The paradigm figure of thinking was the dignity of the human person- that is the principle he used. The paradigm that was used before is similar to the “bad apple” image. Get rid of the bad apple to preserve the good apples. However, according to St. John Paul II we should battle it with dignity. We can’t kill because of the inherent dignity that resides in each person.

2. The second is the Formation of Conscience. He gave an example that when a person dies, an autopsy is done. The autopsy reveals why that person dies, how that person dies; however, no doctors have found the element of conscience via an autopsy. This is the place where we can reason things. This distinguishes us from other creatures. Reason is not robotic. However, we can keep an open mind but not to where our brain falls out. It is the sanctuary where God speaks to us. Conscience is not against reason. You make a decision after thinking. Teaching of conscience help makes good conscience. There are different level of conscience.

a. Antecedent conscience- Conscience tells you what to do before action. Example: there’s a movie you want to see. However, there are some parts of the movie that is bad and you feel that is not good, then you make an effort not to watch it.
b. Consequential conscience- You know it is a bad movie but you watch it anyway. And after seeing the movie, you regret that you saw it. You feel bad afterwards.
c. Correct conscience- thinking correctly, objectively. Example: gravity pull. You don’t see it but you know it’s there when you stand on a high mountain and take a step off the mountain. Surely, gravity will pull you down. It can be based on the 10 Commandments…
d. Erroneous conscience- An example is a couple gets married, she’s a good wife at the beginning. You married a coke shaped person, then later on that person becomes a barrel. And you formulate that you do not want to be married to a barrel and you want to divorce her. This does not reflect the principles of the sacrament of marriage which one promises “for better or for worse, in health and in illness”… Another example is in vitro. This is an erroneous teachings according to the Catholic Church due to the preservation of the dignity and the formation process of procreation is action of the love between husband and wife.
e. Perplexed conscience- this is very common today. They know what to do considering the circumstances. Example: a married man has an affair with a woman. But then, he realizes it is wrong and he wants to stop and come back to his wife. But the woman said she would commit suicide if he rejects her. He can’t make a choice so to continue or end the relationship. If he continues the relationship he is saving her life. Another example is a child who is abused by her dad. She wants to reveal to you that dad is abusing her but does not want dad to get in trouble. She either stays and be abused or come out and tell that dad is abusing her.
f. Certain/doubtful conscience- Certain is when after discernment, you make a decision that is right to do. This is subjective. Doubtful is when you still cannot make a decision. This is still subjective. You are called to act by asking others to understand so that you can go further to make a decision


There are 2 more principles in the types of conscience.
1. Double effect- 2 effects from one action. Killing in self-defense. Killing is not right. Murder is a bad kind of killing. Nobody wants a dead body. Life is important. You can choose not to kill in self-defense. “Live by the sword, die by the sword”. Morally, killing can be justified or sometimes obligated to do it. Example: a man looks for a child to kill. You happen to pass by. You cannot be a passivist at that time. There is a moral obligation to kill that man if he abuses the child. There is double effect here: 1st defend life and 2nd is the loss of a life that is supposedly good. Another example is given by Thomas Aquinas: A pregnant woman develops cancer in utero. She gets a hysterectomy to save her life, however, by doing that she kills the embryo, what can she do to not feel guilty of the action. She can follow the 4 conditions below.

There are 4 conditions
1. The action is not immoral
2. Aim at the good effect, avoid the bad effect
3. Consider proportionality- you cannot justify wiping out the whole human race just to save on person. Therefore, using nuclear weapon is evil. It wipes out the whole of a population.
4. You’re not aiming at the bad effect.

1. Principle of Double effect- Sometimes the use of double effect and theory of proportionalism. St. John Paul II in the Splendor of Truth pages 70-83 deal with this. There’s no justification in destroying everything for the sake of one.
Rape is bad period. Even though there is only one man and one woman left on this earth and the reasoning that the man rape the woman so as to save mankind, re-populating the earth. This cannot be justified.
In the old days, movies portray what life is about, the real life. In today’s world, movies are made to sell. So they consider extreme cases in today’s movies. For example, in today’s world, murder is wrong. All agreed with that principle. However, sometimes words are changed or re-worded to justify the wrong. Substituting the word murder for killing is an example. Killing is not always wrong in certain cases like self-defense. Adultery is always wrong. The proportionalist agrees to this. Having sexual interaction with someone other than your wife is wrong. A case may arise that a woman with mental problem comes to a psychologist. The cure is to have the psychologist have sex with her. Moral absolute does not change, we cannot change it by re-wording it.
2. Principle of Cooperation- This is the case when we cooperate with evil. An example may be cornflakes factory supporting planned-parenthood. We buy cornflakes, in a way we are cooperating with evil.
Abortion- We don’t want to cooperate in abortion. There are different levels of cooperation. If you believe that abortion is right and you work with the doctor performing the abortion. This is formal cooperation. You think the same as the doctor. Material cooperation- you are the nurse giving the doctor the instruments use in abortion. Handling the instruments of death and it is immediate, that is not allowed. Remote cooperation- The janitor cleaning the room used in the abortion procedure. So there is distal and proximal cooperation.
Father ends the talk with “we have more red tape than red carpet”!


Sexual Ethics
This is the deepest manifestation of who we are. In a way it is incarnational. After death, this sexual faculty will survive 20’ after death! The Sacrament of Marriage reinforces the sacredness of the person, aspects of family life. Drawing on the beauty of the sexual act, we give up this act in choosing religious life. The danger of this is when we stop giving of each other. We are not consecrated or ordained to be consecrated/ordained refrigerators. The ideal couple has God as primary. We cannot deny the physical dimension of marriage. We give this up so we can freely give and receive.

Theology of the Body by St. John Paul II is compilation of talks given by him from 1979 – 1984. Father Jose shared that he read it 3-4 times already. New meaning each time. This year would be different from last year. Always food for thoughts.

St. John Paul II brought back Divine Mercy- he died on the vigil of Divine Mercy. His life is scripted as we shall see later. The first 3 parts is actually 83 parts all together. When we fill in the blank for Original __ we are impelled to say Original Sin; however, St. John Paul the second thinks differently.. Original Innocence, Original Man, Original Person are in 23 talks. That is man before sins= Original man. Original Solitude- not good for man to be alone. Original Unity- humanity need each other. The Man of History, man of sin in 40 talks; the last section is Eschatological- man of resurrection total of 49 talks.

It is important to note here that he wrote the man of the Resurrection after he was shot on 5/13/1981. There was a gap, he did not write about the Eschatological man until 11/1981 with the 64th talk. In essence St. John Paul II was the resurrected man when he wrote this! He faced death. That is why his life is so scripted.

Original innocence- man and woman before the knowledge of evil. After evil, they know that they are naked so they covered themselves, why? Because they can be misused or treated differently, treated as objects.
Original Solitude- Solitude is not the same as loneliness, going on retreat for an example. That is solitude.
Original Unity- Man and wife being of one flesh. God is Spirit manifested in male and female.
Original Nakedness-

Michael Waldstein has the best translation on this book.
Be not afraid to read the Theology of the Body, Theology of Attractiveness.

(notes by: ThuMai)