Conscience is a Great Gift from God

The Catholic Encyclopedia definition of conscience is: “A feeling of pain accompanying and resulting from our non-conformity to principles.”[1]  You have a duty to inform your conscience with the highest principles by consulting great philosophical leaders like St. Thomas and St. Paul.

St. Thomas defines conscience as “The judgment or dictates of the practical intellect which (arguing) from the general principle (of Morals) pronounces that something in particular here and now is to be avoided, inasmuch as it is evil, or to be done, inasmuch as it is good.”[2]

Most people living in our immoral world consider their conscience a problem they are stuck with, that it stands in their way of having fun and really isn’t necessary.  They fail to realize that it is a most important gift to be used throughout the day, to obtain salvation.  Oh, what a gift that actually lets you know if you’re on the correct (narrow) path to a heavenly reward, or on the (wide) road to eternal damnation.  A gift beyond your imagination.

You must avoid going through life with an uninformed conscience or a lax conscience.  It is a “minimizer” if it falsely judges actions to be harmless which are sinful.  God has established an objective moral order and cannot be presumed to be indifferent to its maintenance.[3]  Both passion and ignorance interfere with correct dictates of an informed conscience.

There is such a thing as a scrupulous conscience.  The scrupulous person is the victim of an imaginary spiritual impediment to his free action.  He is tormented in every action by the thought that he may be committing a sin.[4]  A scrupulous conscience is really the work of the devil hoping you will become frustrated and refuse to listen to your conscience in the future.  Such a conscience can be informed and corrected with guidance from an uncompromising confessor.  Before confession, we examine our consciences to ensure a “good” confession.  However, it is best to examine our conscience every night in order to avoid a lax conscience.

Let’s pledge to appreciate our conscience as a generous gift from God, and keep it informed and use it as He intended, cooperating with God to work out our salvation.

[1]          1913-1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, page 269.

Catholic Dictionary and Encyclopedia of Religious Information, Addis & Arnold, Entry: Conscience, page 215

Moral and Pastoral Theology, Davis, volume 1, page 78.

Moral and Pastoral Theology, Davis, volume 1, page 73.