Catechesis in Contemporary Culture: Hedonism

Authored by Brian Pizzalato in Issue #29.2 of The Sower

‘If it feels good, do it.’ This slogan succinctly expresses a main feature of the mentality of today's society. What is this radically influential philosophical position? Hedonism.

In essence, hedonism holds that the only thing intrinsically good is pleasure, and the only thing intrinsically bad is displeasure. A thing is only good or bad in itself if it either gives or does not give pleasure.

This philosophy easily translates into practice. One ought only to act for the sake of pleasure. One's choice for option A as opposed to option B will be governed by which will bring the greatest pleasure. If both things will undoubtedly cause displeasure, one must choose the option causing the least displeasure. Thus, for the hedonist, pleasure is the main principle for all decision making.

What are some of the probable negative consequences of living by the tenets of an unbridled hedonistism? The hedonist will very likely self-absorbed, extraordinarily selfish, and willing to do anything to anyone for self-gratification. Using others as a means for pleasure can lead to sexual sins like fornication, adultery and rape. Everything is about what I want.

We need not look far to find this attitude affecting our nation, local community, and perhaps even ourselves. Blessed Pope John XXIII expressed the modern situation in this way, "There is, alas, a spirit of hedonism abroad today which beguiles men into thinking that life is nothing more than the quest for pleasure and the satisfaction of human passions. This attitude is disastrous. Its evil effects on soul and body are undeniable." (Mater et Magistra, 235)

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!

This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Adult Faith Formation and Culture Change
By Dr. James Pauley
Free This year marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the most important publications the U.S. Bishops have ever written: Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us . The ideals and principles expressed in this document are deeply convicting and can be summed up with these stirring words: “adult faith formation is essential to who we are and what we do as... Read more
From the Shepherds: Catechesis in the Light of the Papal Magisterium of Pope Francis Evangelii gaudium - An Access to the Church’s Mission
By Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
Free Looking back on the past and on the development of the church since the Second Vatican Council, there are two well-known and profound documents, which have brought the biblical call for evangelization into our pastoral consciousness: Evangelii nuntiandi in 1974 and Evangelii gaudium in 2013. Both apostolic letters have reflected on the manner in... Read more
Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Reflection on Discipleship
By Peter J. Murphy
Do you feel the Holy Spirit working? Do you sense that deeper calling, that desire for renewal, that burning within your heart? Yes, it is the same burning that the disciples on the road to Emmaus felt as their Lord and Savior journeyed with them. Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us was written twenty years ago as a prophetic and challenging... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now