The Interior Voice…
-Homily September 8, 2013
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn.
have many times heard the voice of our conscience: “Deep within his conscience
man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey.
Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil,
sounds in his heart at the right moment…” (1776). What is this voice? What is my responsibility in
front of it? Is it possible that my conscience is wrong? Let us see what the
Catechism says about these issues.
“Conscience is a judgment of reason by which
the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act” (1796). “Moral
conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate
moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices,
approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil” (1777).
need to follow my conscience: “In all he says and does, man is obliged to
follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. ‘Conscience is a law of
the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more…
[Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to
us from behind a veil.’ (John H. Newman)” (1778) “When he
listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking” (1777).
need also to be attentive: “It is important for every person to be sufficiently
present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience.
This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts
us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection” (1779). I must avoid
the tendency to escape from myself. I need some silence in my life. Some people
are afraid of silence, perhaps because they don’t want to hear God speaking to
them. Do I have silence in my life?
is a judge, but a merciful judge, like God: “Conscience enables one to assume
responsibility for acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of
conscience can remain within him as the witness” of the good he failed to do
and of the evil he has done. However, “the verdict of the judgment of
conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault
committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked… ‘We shall…
reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is
greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.’ (1 John 3:19-20)” (1781). If our conscience shows us the
evil we have committed, we need to remember that the mercy of God is greater
than our sins. Our conscience allows us to realize how much we are in need of
mercy and forgiveness. If our conscience bothers us we don’t need to fall into
depression; we need to go to confession, that’s it.
The Formation of Conscience
education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to
negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject
authoritative teachings” (1783). “The education of the conscience is a lifelong
task… prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness
and pride, excessive feeling of guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of
human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom
and engenders peace of heart” (1784). When you don’t know you are not free. You
are not free to decide what is the best place to go on holiday when you don’t
know all the possibilities, or you don’t know the best possibilities. Formation
of conscience allows you to know the best you can be, “the best version of yourself.”
the formation of conscience, the Word of God is the light for our path… We must
also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the
gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided
by the authoritative teaching of the Church” (1785).
To Choose in Accord with Conscience
with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment… or, on the
contrary, an erroneous one” (1786). “Man is sometimes confronted by situations
that make moral judgments less assured and decisions difficult. But he must
always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God
expressed in divine law” (1787).
rules apply in every case: 1) One may never do evil so that good may result
from it; 2) the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so
to them.” 3) Charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and
his conscience: “it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble?”“
(1789) We must avoid scandalizing our brothers and sisters.
can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments”
(1790). “This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This
is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good,
or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing
sin.” In such cases, the person is guilty of the evil he commits” (1791).
a person does not know that something is wrong because he or she is not
interested about what is good or not, there may be a sin behind that ignorance,
and so that ignorance does not excuse. If the reason of the mistake is the
rejection of the authority and teaching of the Church, there may be a sin of
pride behind, and so one has the responsibility of the mistake. Finally, “enslavement
to one's passions” can also be the reason of the mistake: after sinning for so
long, a person may have arrived to convince him or herself that sin is right (cf.
1792). Even in this last case, conversion and forgiveness is possible.
- on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not
responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot
be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One
must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.” (1793).
the Lord help us to be faithful to our conscience. May we listen with
confidence to his voice in our heart, knowing that God is showing us the way
towards true happiness, towards “the best version of ourselves.” His light
makes us free, because as Jesus said: “The Truth will make you free.” (John 8:32) –Fr.