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Getting to the Heart of the Matter

About this article

This handout from Called to Live the Gospel, from the Horizons program (available from Saint Mary's Press), gives a five-step process for making decisions. "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" could be used as a guide for case studies or as a comparison-contrast with any other decision-making process (including the LISTEN process from the Growing in Christian Morality text).

Step 1: Look at the situation
What exactly is happening?
Why is it happening?
Who is involved? What are their motives?
How is it happening, that is, by what means or method?
When and where is it happening?

Step 2: Identify possible cultural responses and effects
What are the options?
What would my family say I should do? If I choose their option, who benefits? who gets hurt?
What would my friends and peers say I should do? If I choose their option, who benefits? who gets hurt?
What would society say I should do? If I choose society's option, who benefits? who gets hurt?

Step 3: Identify the faith response
How do the values of Jesus apply in this situation?
What do the Scriptures say? the Ten Commandments? the Beatitudes?
What is the teaching of the church on this matter?
What do I want to ask the faith community to pray with me for and about?

Step 4: Make a personal decision
What do the vision and values of Jesus--assuming I agree with and accept them--lead me to in this particular moral situation or dilemma?
What does love look like in this situation?
If I choose the Catholic response, who benefits? who gets hurt?
If I am to be true to my call to be holy, healthy, and happy, what must I choose?
In the long run, what kind of person will I become if I choose the Catholic response?

Step 5: Act on the decision
What are the steps I need to take to act on this decision?
What is the first thing I will do?


From Called to Live the Gospel, Copyright © 1996 by Saint Mary's Press. Article copyright © 2009 Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for the free use of this article for classroom or campus ministry purposes; however, it may not be republished in any form without the written permission of Saint Mary's Press. For more resources to support your ministry, call 800-533-8095, or visit our Web site at www.smp.org.

Published January 2, 2000.