Moral Conscience: Catholic Teaching for a Strong Faith

The knowledge of conscience is vital for the life of faith. A solid grasp of Catholic teaching about conscience makes it easy to live a moral life. And unfortunately.

a defective understanding can destroy your moral life.

This is crucial! For the beginning Catholic, this is an essential issue to comprehend correctly.

And I’ll tell you plainly: conscience may be the single most misunderstood problem among Catholics today!

This article will give you a brief, understandable description of conscience in plain English. You’ll have a sound understanding of the topic.

This topic is so crucial that you have to study this article, and then keenly study the Catechism’s section on conscience.

A natural facility to judge

Conscience is a characteristic office of our reason that completes three things:

Reminds us generally to do great and stay away from shrewdness.

Makes a judgment about the great and malice of specific decisions in an explicit circumstance.

Takes the stand the reality to the great or abhorrence that we have done. (I.e., having a feeling of remorse.)

The inner voice is an amazing and striking office that is distinctly human.

Comprehend that inner voice is a judgment of reason. It utilizes the target standards of good law to pass judgment on the ethical quality of acts in explicit conditions. Still, small voice is not itself the source of the ethical law.

This is a typical purpose of misconception. Numerous who dismiss Church instructing will state, “I’m simply following my heart.” What they typically mean is that they’re looking to their inner voice as the source of moral standards, which is a genuine mistake.

I’ll be gruff: all things considered, some different Catholics will provoke you on this point, and you’ll need to safeguard it. (I know, it’s not reasonable! It’s a long story, yet many individuals have been shown the powerless or awful principle for a long time… .)

Utilize the Catechism to safeguard this point. This article will enable you to peruse the Catechism’s area on still, small voice precisely. Additionally, see the brilliant article on conscience on the Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) Web website. Past that, Pope John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor contains a complete exchange about still, small voice in segments 54-64; number 64 especially addresses this point.

Everybody has an obligation to form their inner voice. The arrangement of still, small voice basically implies instructing and preparing it. We do this by learning and appreciating the target moral law, as found in Scripture and the legitimate lessons of the Catholic Church. This structures heart in target moral truth as educated by Christ and his Church.

Rehearsing the ideals is another part of framing the heart. This gives us a chance to do great acts, as well as it prepares the will to want to do great. Specifically, the uprightness of reasonability influences the capacity of still, small voice to judge appropriately.

You must follow your conscience

A fundamental principle of Catholic morality is that you must follow your conscience.

Rather be vigilant: there’s a strong tendency for all of us to distort the full meaning of that principle! We tend to use it as a giant loophole for doing any old thing that we’d like.

A well-formed conscience will never contradict the objective moral law, as taught by Christ and his Church. (Catechism, 1783-5, 1792, 2039)

A safe way to read this principle is: if your conscience is well-formed, and you are being careful to reason clearly and objectively from true moral principles, then you must follow the reasoned judgment of your conscience about the morality of a specific act. Otherwise, seek reliable guidance in forming your conscience.

The principle that we must follow our conscience derives from…

The dignity of conscience

The authority of conscience, and our desire to follow it come from its dignity

Pope John Paul II tells us that conscience is an “interior dialog of a man with himself” about right and wrong. It “is also a dialog of a man with God”: it is “the witness of God himself” calling him to obey the moral law, and is a person’s “witness of his own faithfulness or unfaithfulness.” This is the basis of the great dignity of the conscience: it derives from its witness to objective moral truth. (Veritatis Splendor, 57-58, 60)

Conscience is the means God has given us to make moral decisions. Our freedom demands that we use it: “When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.” (Catechism, 1777)

But we compromise this dignity of conscience if we haven’t formed our conscience well, or when we do not take care to reason clearly and objectively. Again, Pope John Paul II teaches:

Jesus alludes to the danger of the conscience being deformed when he warns: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt 6:22-23). (Veritatis Splendor, 63)

Erroneous judgment

Conscience does not always judge correctly. Out of ignorance or bad reasoning, it can judge wrongly.

Erroneous judgment is often our own fault, and can have many causes (from Catechism, 1791-2):

  • Lack of care in forming our conscience or our powers of reason
  • Misunderstanding conscience
  • Damage caused by repeated and habitual sin
  • Following the bad example of others
  • Rejection of Church teaching
  • Ignorance of Christ and the Gospels
  • Neglecting the work of our conversion to Christ
  • Neglect of charity

If our conscience errs and we’re responsible for the error, then we are guilty of the evil committed. We are not guilty for the evil if we’re not responsible for the error.

But even if the guilt is not imputable to us, it’s still an evil act. This greatly hinders our ability to advance in the moral life and live in union with God. As Pope John Paul II puts it:

…[T]he performance of good acts… constitutes the indispensable condition of and path to eternal blessedness…. Only the act in conformity with the good can be a path that leads to life…. If [an act is not good]…, the choice of that action makes our will and ourselves morally evil, thus putting us in conflict with our ultimate end, the supreme good, God himself. (Veritatis Splendor, 72, emphasis in the original)

The key to the moral life

The good or evil of specific acts shapes our whole life.

We choose God or reject him specifically in the morality of our actions. We must choose to do good in order to choose God, grow in freedom, sanctify ourselves, and let God’s grace work in us to make us “children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (Catechism, 1996)

Moral conscience is the instrument that makes this moral life easy: it is exactly how we know what the good is in specific cases, and it beckons us to always stand up for the good. And even when we choose wrongly, conscience calls us to seek God’s merciful forgiveness so that we can start again.











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