Sometimes I’ll hear atheists argue that “you don’t have to believe in God to be a moral person.” I agree! I know from my own experience that atheists can be moral people and do good deeds. What I couldn’t do, as an atheist, was to give a compelling reason why I had this moral sense, or to explain why I recognized that my efforts to be good always fell short of my ideals.
I also didn’t understand, then, that Christian teachings on virtue and morality were anything other than a set of rules and pious slogans – I didn’t know that the Church offered a relationship with a living Person who would, if you would allow it, actually do something to change and transform you into a new person, a fully alive person… But that was a something that took quite a while to understand, and indeed it’s only since I’ve become a Catholic that I’ve begun to fully appreciate the fullness and transformative power of God’s grace, above all through the Eucharist. It’s a completely different paradigm.