So there we have it!!
There is SO MUCH GOOD in these brief paragraphs
THE FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE
Paragraph 1783 says, “Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator.”
That seems very very obvious
It is one of those truths that is so obvious that we can pass over it without giving it its due attention
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story…
A WELL-FORMED CONSCIENCE IS UPRIGHT AND TRUTHFUL
This means that we should only say what we believe is true
How many times during the course of the day might we just go along with something, even when we know it is not true?
Even if we know it’s not good because it’s easy to go along?
We don’t say something that we know would be needed to say?
We say something we know is false?
A WELL-FORMED CONSCIENCE IS UPRIGHT AND TRUTHFUL
Remember, we talked about how important our intellectual formation is when it comes to our conscience
Think about any hot-button issue of today
You might think it’s fine
Look at something and think it’s wrong
If we can’t give a reason why we think this is good or this is bad, then we don’t have a reason
And that is NOT an example of a well-formed conscience
If I think this is fine…
Because people should just be able to do what they want?
Well, that is a reason
Is it a good reason?
I think it’s bad because those people should be stopped, whoever they are
With so many things that we COULD say in the course of any given day, we probably get into conversations with people all the time where we offer our opinion
We offer our perspective
We say what we think is good or what we think is wrong
If we have a well-formed conscience, the great question to always ask is, DO I HAVE A REASON?
WHY DO I THINK THIS?
WHY DO I THINK THAT X IS FINE?
WHY DO I THINK THAT Y IS BAD?
WE NEED TO HAVE A REASON!!
What is the GOOD that we have been created for?
Paragraph 1783 continues, “The 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.”
It is this idea of the noble savage
There are people like Jean-Jaques Rousseau who said, “Left to ourselves, left on our own, we would be just fine. That it’s actually culture that corrupts us. And that on our own, though, we’d be completely fine.”
Well, the Church says, “Not so much.”
There are corruptive influences
We need to be educated
We need to actually be formed because without form, we have no structure
Without formation, the negative influences in the world around us will continue to takes us off our axis
Without formation, we will not be strong enough
We will just go with the tide
We will just go with the flow
We are not born noble savages where everything we want is automatically good
We also are born with broken hearts and dimmed intellects
The formation of conscience is indispensable because we have corruptible, negative influences
We are tempted by sin
Does this not describe us?
We are tempted by sin to prefer our own judgment
I think this is OK
Because I want to do it
How many times do we think there is nothing wrong with that?
Because that’s what we do
When it comes to the formation of conscience, we formulate our judgments according to reason
ALWAYS be willing and able to ask that question and answer that question…
I think this is OK
I think this is wrong
If we want to keep it simple, this is one way to keep it simple
Paragraph 1784 says, “The education of conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience.”
St. Paul says in Romans Ch 1, “Yeah, this is written on the human heart. There is right and wrong. There is a sense of right and wrong written on the human heart.”
Not just the knowledge but the practice of the interior law
Yes, conscience is formed by reason
It is exercised by our will
There are so many times when we know intellectually this is the right thing to do
Our will is not strong enough to do it
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike talk about C.S. Lewis…
You could have someone who has been taught all of the virtues, but was raised by thieves
That person could have incredible intellectual knowledge of what the good is
But they have been raised to operate according to preference rather than operating according to the true good
Every one of us has to WANT to learn what the good is
We need to WANT to learn what we need to choose
We need to WANT to learn what virtue is
We need to WANT to learn what God’s Law tells us about the right way to live
This is not merely about data transfer
This is about TRANSFORMATION
We are getting this information so how do we put this into practice?
How do we actually choose this with our very lives?
We have to exercise both if we really want to have the education and formation of conscience
Paragraph 1784 continues, “Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults.”
This is worth taking to prayer
If we had a growth in virtue and education in conscience, we then know the good and we have the ability to choose the good
So what would that do?
There are so many things in our lives that cause us to fear and cause us to have resentment and cause us to be selfish and cause us to be prideful
If we knew the good and choose it, in so many ways we would experience what true freedom is
The things that scare us and hold us back or the things that elevate us with false pride or fill us with resentment arising from guilt might even be cured
The formation of conscience is not just so that we feel bad about everything now
Sometimes we think that if we learn all the moral laws and commandments from the Lord, we will just feel guilty about everything
Yes, that is true inasmuch if we learned the Commandments but then we did not keep them
We would feel very guilty
If our education and formation of conscience helps us learn the good, the true, and the beautiful, and actually choose and live the true, the good, and the beautiful, how amazing would that be?
Paragraph 1784 continues, “The education of conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.”
That is us when we actually do what we know is right
We get this education not only from our reason
Not only from good arguments
We have philosophers who talk about virtues
We have saints who talk about virtues
Paragraph 1785 says, “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. 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.”
What does it mean to examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross?
We can give ourselves a pass whether it’s a moment of jealousy, a moment of selfishness, a moment of anger, etc.
Think of all the things we could choose in the course of any normal day
No big deal, right?
Examined before the Lord’s Cross, oh wait that is what LOVE looks like
Jesus on the Cross
God, who actually deserves all of our honor and all of our love
God deserves all glory and more
God is pouring Himself out in love
So now our consciences need to be examined before that kind of love
Now for the flip side of the same coin…
We examine our conscience and it could convict and condemn us
Examined in the light of the Lord’s Cross, we realize that He took the condemnation upon Himself
Our sins, our guilt, that condemn us
HIS MERCY FREES US!!
We have this double way that we examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross
Paragraph 1786 says, “Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.”
Paragraph 1787 says, “Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgment less assured and decision difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God expressed in divine law.”
We can find ourselves not only where it is complicated, but to do the right thing in this situation would be very costly
We are going to find ourselves in a complicated world and complex decisions that are not always easy and decisions become very difficult
Paragraph 1788 says, “To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts.”
We have to try this
We have to be reformed by the light of God’s Law and the will of God expressed through the Church
We have to interpret our experience as we grow in wisdom and experience
Hopefully we are growing in wisdom
We need the advice of competent people
We need the help of the Holy Spirit and His gifts
Paragraph 1789 says, “Some rules apply in every case: -One may never do evil so that good may result from it; -the Golden Rule: ‘Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.’; -charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience: ‘Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience…you sin against Christ.’ Therefore ‘it is right not to…do anything that makes your brother stumble.’”
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s example about shooting his sister…
Don’t take an evil action upon yourself even if it saves someone else
That would always be wrong
Doing something that causes your brother to stumble is called SCANDAL
We have to be up to the challenge because the Lord is calling us to this
We can’t do it on our own
We do this by the Holy Spirit, by His grace, and by growing in the gifts and life of the Spirit
LIFE IN CHRIST!!
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT!!
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!