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Conscience

In the classic Disney movie, Pinocchio , Jiminy Cricket is chosen by the Blue Fairy to

In the classic Disney movie, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket is chosen by the Blue Fairy to be Pinocchio's "official" conscience. He agrees to his post as, "Lord High Keeper of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong, Counselor in Moments of Temptation, and Guide along

the Straight and Narrow Path."

Do each of us have a “Jiminy Cricket” as our conscience to tell us right from wrong?

NO!! Conscience is NOT an inner voice within us that is separate from who we are…Rather, it is a

reflection of our being:

Conscience is not what we have, it is something we are.

It is the operation of the intellect.

“Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but
“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….For man has in his
heart a law inscribed by God….His conscience is man’s most
secret core and sanctuary. There he is alone with God voice
echoes in his depth.” Vatican II, Gadium et Spes

To define and clarify…

Conscience: a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed.

Conscience refers to our entire being as creatures who desire to turn towards goodness and truth.

It is NOT an inner voice that goes untouched, unexamined and undeveloped.

Conscience IS molded by our

environment, but must be evaluated against TRUTH when making a decision.

Conscience IS NOT a feeling, it is an act of the intellect and will that must be examined against truth before final judgment can be made.

The Latin root for the word “conscience” means to know. It deals with our acts of judging based on our KNOWledge of right and wrong,

Conscience vs. “Consciousness”:

Consciousness refers to a general awareness of ourselves, other people and our surroundings.

Conscience refers to our awareness (consciousness) of right and wrong,

The job of the conscience is to evaluate whether or not a particular act is good or evil, and to advise accordingly.

Again, Conscience is not a feeling; it is a practical judgment; an operation of the intellect that must be examined against TRUTH.

“Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed.”

Review of the Moral Act:

There are three basic components for determining whether an action is moral or immoral:

1. The object chosen

  • 2. The intention (the “end”)

  • 3. The circumstances surrounding the action

“A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the
“A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end,
and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even
if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting ‘in order to
be seen by men’).
The object of choice can by itself vitiate [corrupt] an act in its entirety.
There are some concrete acts– such as fornication– that it is always
wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will,
that is, a
moral evil.” CCC 1755

Conditions that Lessen Guilt…

Violence is an external force applied by one person on another to compel that person to perform an action against his or her will.”

Fear is a disturbance of mind resulting from some present or imminent danger.”

Concupiscence is the rebellion of passions [emotions] against reason.” It is the tendency of human nature toward evil.

Ignorance is lack of knowledge in a person capable of possessing such knowledge. There are two types of ignorance:

- Vincible Ignorance is that which can and should be dispelled. For example, if someone thinks it might be wrong not to eat meat on Fridays in Lent, but purposely never asks a priest or a friend about it, then he still commits sin if he eats meat on those days.

-

Invincible Ignorance is that which cannot be dispelled. In other words, someone is ignorant of his own ignorance.

Divisions of Conscience…

True (correct) vs. Erroneous

True (correct): one which indicates correctly the goodness or badness of a moral conduct

Erroneous: one which falsely indicates that a good action is evil, or an evil action is good

A person with a false conscience may/may not be guilty of an evil act depending on whether his ignorance was vincible or invincible.

Did he try to know

is innocent.

the truth and yet remained in error?- invincible; he

OR Was he negligent in seeking the truth or tried NOT to seek the truth?- vincible; not innocent

Certain vs. Doubtful

Certain: one which dictates a course of action in clear terms without fear of error

Doubtful: one which leaves a person undecided as to the proper course of action

**We must always follow a certain conscience!

Lax vs. Scrupulous

Lax: forms moral judgments on insufficient grounds; may be persuaded that great sins are permissible

Scrupulous: when someone sees evil where

there is none

When our conscience is honestly and correctly formed, we MUST follow it in every circumstance!

But, in order to follow our conscience, we must always seek to FORM our conscience…

Steps to help our conscience grow and be attuned to God’s will.

1. Find the facts.

  • 2. Examine your motives.

  • 3. Think of the possible effects.

  • 4. Consider alternatives.

  • 5. What does the law have to say?

  • 6. What is the reasonable thing to do?

  • 7. What does your own experience and that of other people say about the issue?

  • 8. What would Jesus have done?

  • 9. What is the teaching of the Church?

10. Pray for guidance. 11. Admit that you sometimes sin and might be wrong. 12. After all of this, follow your conscience. “Everyone who knows what is the right thing to do

and does not do it commits a sin.” James 4:17