Divine Instruction Manual, Please?

I have received several questions from readers over the past few weeks asking about the Church’s stance on a number of issues, ranging from tattoos to women in the workplace.  While I could attempt to dedicate a post to each topic, I figured it would be more efficient to wrap them up, for the most part, with this:

If you’ve been in the world for longer than about 20 minutes, you have probably noticed that not every situation has a clear black or white answer.  Sometimes it may be that we are faced with making the choice simply between good and evil.  But more often than not, we find ourselves faced with a choice of good and not-as-good—and when that happens it is not always clear which is which.

The Church knows this.  Yes, there is objective truth.  Yes, there are things that are objectively and morally wrong.  For these issues, the Church has a yes or no answer, and you can typically find it in your Catechism.   But while the Catechism is amazing for learning about faith and morality, it is not meant to be an instruction manual for every question you come to in life.  This is why it is so important 1) to really know your faith and 2) to actually have a relationship with God.

If you know the teachings of the Church, you can apply the basic principles to your situation to help you discern which is the right or wrong answer.  It will usually come down to the two greatest commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.  Most importantly, if you have a relationship with God, you will be seeking to do His will, which of course cannot contradict the teachings of His Church.

So, to answer some specific questions: unless your tattoo is of an image that offends God (or if your getting a tattoo is disobeying your parents), then it is not sinful.  And yes, a woman can be a good mother and still go to work.  Nothing too counter-cultural here :)