The Judgment Of Conscience (2022)

August 11, 2018Our Catholic FaithNo Comments

(Video) C. Cuddy #10: What is involved in the judgment of conscience? (I, 79, 13; De Ver. 17)

By DON FIER

(Video) The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1779 1782 - The Judgment of Conscience

When the average person hears the word “passion” spoken in the hyper-sensualized culture in which we live, the first thought likely to come to mind is sexual desire, and perhaps with a disordered association.
However, as we saw last week, in the parlance of moral theology the term has a more basic, neutral meaning. As defined in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCCC), passions are “the feelings, the emotions, or the movements of the sensible appetite — natural components of human psychology — which incline a person to act or not to act in view of what is perceived as good or evil” (n. 370).
Morally neutral in themselves, the passions “form the passageway and ensure the connection between the life of the senses and the life of the mind” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1763). They assume moral character “to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will” (CCC, n. 1767). The passions “are good when they contribute to a good action and they are evil in the opposite case. They can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices” (CCCC, n. 371).
As Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ states: “It is part of moral perfection for the passions to be guided by reason enlightened by faith” (The Faith, p. 157). The whole person is involved; as the psalmist proclaims: “My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Ps. 84:2).
Among the principal passions listed by the Compendium are “love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger” (CCCC, n. 370). Love, “to will the good of another,” is the most fundamental passion. “All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good” (CCC, n. 1766).
The Catechism now allocates 27 paragraphs (nn. 1776-1802) to a topic for which a correct understanding is essential in order to live a genuinely Christian life, namely, conscience. In general terms, conscience might be described as that means, given to mankind by God as a manifestation of His goodness, by which His light shines in our minds and hearts and that serves as a link between human freedom and moral truth.
More concretely, conscience can be described as the faculty at the core of one’s being by which practical judgments are made as to whether particular acts are morally right or wrong.
Regrettably, it is a term that is often misunderstood and misapplied in contemporary times. As conveyed by Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ in the first volume of Fundamentals of Catholicism (FoC-1), conscience “is frequently appealed to as an absolutely autonomous principle in a person — as something that is not supposed to be challenged or questioned by anyone, including the Church or the state” (FoC-1, p. 132).
In our relativistic, individualistic culture, it is often heeded as an indication of “what I want to do” rather than “what I ought to do.”
The Catechism begins its treatment of conscience with an insightful quotation from Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes (GS), a teaching that bears repeating in its entirety for our reflection:
“In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: ‘do this, shun that.’ For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths” (GS, n. 16; as cited in CCC, n. 1776).
The importance of conscience in the Christian life is similarly emphasized in a second Vatican II document, Dignitatis Humanae: “On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life” (n. 3 § 4).
Pope St. John Paul II also accentuates the importance of a correct understanding of conscience in Veritatis Splendor: “The way in which one conceives the relationship between freedom and law is intimately bound up with one’s understanding of the moral conscience” (n. 54 § 2).
Likewise, Scripture attests to the importance of conscience for the attainment of eternal beatitude. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes:
“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16).
The Catechism, in adherence with these teachings, describes conscience as follows: “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. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking” (CCC, n. 1777).
In a July 2016 presentation to members of the Marian Catechist Apostolate (entitled “The Moral Law, Conscience, and the Sacred Liturgy”), Raymond Cardinal Burke dutifully warned listeners that in the times in which we live, “we must be attentive to false notions of conscience, which would actually use the conscience to justify sinful acts, to betray our call to holiness.”
It is with this in mind that we return to the earlier-referenced counsel offered by Fr. Baker.
Fr. Baker advised that the only way to effectively deal with today’s situation is to have a clear understanding of what conscience is and what it is not.
“It is not an ‘inner voice’ telling me what is right and what is wrong,” maintains Fr. Baker. “It is not an emotional feeling produced by my parents or…by my peer group. Finally, it is not a special faculty, distinct from my mind and my will, that tells me what to do and what to avoid” (FoC-1, p. 132).
In more technical language, Dr. William E. May offers similar thoughts in An Introduction to Moral Theology (IMT). He describes an erroneous view of conscience which he refers to as “psychological conscience.”
Influenced by Freudian ideology, conscience understood in this way is “the result of a process of psychological conditioning; and the spontaneous reactions, impulses, and feelings associated with conscience …may be either realistic and healthy or illusory and pathological. Conscience in this sense is shaped largely by non-rational factors, and it is frequently found to condemn what is not wrong or to approve what is not right” (IMT, p. 57).
Such an understanding is not what the council fathers (or the authors of the Catechism) had in mind when they used the term “to designate the agency whereby human persons participate in God’s eternal and divine law….For them, conscience designates first and foremost our awareness of moral truth” (ibid.).
Conscience, armed with moral truth, “is 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” (CCC, n. 1778).
In a document entitled A Letter Addressed to the Duke of Norfolk, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman observed that “conscience is not a long-sighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ” (p. 42; as cited in CCC, n. 1778).

The Subjective Realm

(Video) THE JUDGEMENT OF CONSCIENCE COMES...

Let us close with words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI during his 2010 Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia:
“In modern thinking, the word ‘conscience’ signifies that for moral and religious questions, it is the subjective dimension, the individual, that constitutes the final authority for decision. The world is divided into the realms of the objective and the subjective. To the objective realm belong things that can be calculated and verified by experiment.
“Religion and morals fall outside the scope of these methods and are therefore considered to lie within the subjective realm. Here, it is said, there are in the final analysis no objective criteria. The ultimate instance that can decide here is therefore the subject alone, and precisely this is what the word ‘conscience’ expresses: In this realm only the individual…can decide.
“Newman’s understanding of conscience is diametrically opposed to this. For him, ‘conscience’ means man’s capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life — religion and morals — a truth,thetruth. At the same time, conscience — man’s capacity to recognize truth — thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it, and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart.”

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(Video) Catholic - Prepare For Judgement (Faustina)

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors forThe Catholic Servant,a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is a Consecrated Marian Catechist.)

FAQs

What is Judgement of conscience? ›

Since the judgment of conscience is a judgment about how an action conforms or does not conform to natural law, then, it is obligatory to follow that judgment, that is, to act according to one's conscience. The act of the moral conscience is an efficacious practical judgment.

What does Augustine say about conscience? ›

St Augustine believed that conscience was literally the voice of God, informing us of what is right and wrong and we receive this message intuitively. Augustine asserted that all goodness comes from God and God knows our actions and the choices behind those actions directly.

Why conscience is important in our life? ›

Through our individual conscience, we become aware of our deeply held moral principles, we are motivated to act upon them, and we assess our character, our behavior and ultimately our self against those principles.

How does the conscience make its Judgements? ›

The Catechism states: “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” (No. 1783). The binding force of conscience does not depend on a person's decision to follow it or not.

What is conscience example? ›

The definition of conscience is a personal awareness of right and wrong that you use to guide your actions to do right. An example of conscience is the personal ethics that keep you from cheating on an exam.

What are the 3 types of conscience? ›

Certain conscience means convinced without any doubt that an action is good or bad. Doubtful conscience means when you cannot choose between good and bad choices. Lax conscience means when you see no sin where there actually is sin.

What is conscience in ethics essay? ›

Conscience describes two things – what a person believes is right and how a person decides what is right. More than just 'gut instinct', our conscience is a 'moral muscle'. By informing us of our values and principles, it becomes the standard we use to judge whether or not our actions are ethical.

Is the conscience a good moral guide? ›

In the Christian tradition the conscience is predominantly considered to have its origins in God or through discovering God`s will - if this is done correctly, the conscience is therefore to be considered a reliable guide.

Is the conscience reliable? ›

Like dogma, conscience is not always reliable, particularly when it tells you what you want to hear. It is probably more so when it tells you to do something you do not want to do; in other words, something contrary to your own perceived self-interest.

How do you have a good conscience? ›

Stand up for your beliefs.
  1. Trust your own beliefs and decisions of what is right. Do not let yourself be swayed by what others think, say or do.
  2. Speak up when you see an injustice being done. Many people have a strong conscience but are afraid to act.

Why did God give us a conscience? ›

The conscience is a wonderful gift from God. He has generously placed His standards of right and wrong in the mind of every person. He's done this to lead us into the best life possible. Without a conscience, we'd have no ability to function in community.

What does reason of conscience mean? ›

1. the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action. to follow the dictates of conscience. 2. the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.

Can a conscience ever make wrong Judgements? ›

A human being must always obey the certain judgment of conscience. It can happen, however, that moral conscience makes erroneous judgments about how to act in particular circumstances.

Does everyone have a conscience? ›

Most real people, in contrast, have a conscience. Not only do they have a general sense of right and wrong, but they also understand how their actions affect others. Conscience is sometimes described as that voice inside your head.

What are the two important lessons to understand about using your conscience and what are two key sources for forming a good conscience? ›

Two key principles of conscience are (1) always form + inform your conscience and (2) always follow your conscience).

Does conscience mean with knowledge? ›

The word conscience contains the word science, which comes from the Latin word scientia, meaning "to know" or "knowledge." You can think of your conscience as your knowledge of yourself, especially when it comes to your own morals, or your feelings about right and wrong.

How do we use conscience? ›

How to use Conscience in a sentence
  1. He did the task for the sake of his conscience. ...
  2. His fine character and conscience earned him universal respect and confidence. ...
  3. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory. ...
  4. He told the truth for his conscience's sake. ...
  5. Did he think she had no conscience about what happened?

What is the right of conscience? ›

This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

How do I keep my conscience clear? ›

Release regret to redirect your focus on positive action.
  1. Lingering Effects of a Bipolar Mood Episode. ...
  2. #1 Be Brave & Stop the Self-Blame. ...
  3. #2 Set Clear Boundaries & Expectations. ...
  4. #3 Find Compassion. ...
  5. #4 Increase Self-Awareness. ...
  6. #5 Take Action & Start Small. ...
  7. #6 Acknowledge Progress.
2 Feb 2022

How do you use conscience in a sentence? ›

He wanted to clear his conscience before he dies. They are displaying an alarming lack of social conscience. More like to blot out his guilty conscience.

What are the main types of conscience? ›

Conscience can be broken down into two categories: Good Conscience. Guilty Conscience.

Are humans born with conscience? ›

Early theorists in psychology mainly took the approach that babies are born without any sense of morality and have to learn it as they get older. We now know that although a fully developed sense of morality does not emerge until adolescence or later, babies already show signs of a rudimentary moral compass.

How is conscience related to faith? ›

Some Christians believe that the conscience is the voice of God. God is speaking to individuals, guiding them to do the right thing in a given situation. Conscience can be described as a moral sense of right and wrong. A conscience must be educated, as an uneducated conscience can make a wrong decision.

What is the relation of conscience to your actions? ›

Conscience is at the heart of progressivism because conscience is not just a feeling but a palpable urge toward improvement—a call to action or engagement. Conscience is the way our moral sense and our moral formation come together to inform our actions in the world.

Is conscience a reliable guide for decision making? ›

Early Christian writers such as St Augustine of Hippo and St Jerome appear to sincerely agree with the idea that one's conscience is a responsible arbiter between right and wrong and is therefore reliable for making decisions.

What is our conscience? ›

What Does Conscience Mean? The noun conscience refers to a state of awareness or a sense that one's actions or intentions are either morally right or wrong, along with a feeling of obligation to do the right thing.

When should one follow his conscience? ›

The duty to follow one's conscience is neither one specific responsibility among others nor a supreme responsibility which perhaps could conflict with and nullify others. For no matter what in particular one ought to do, one ought to follow one's conscience.

What does follow your conscience mean? ›

To some it may mean doing the right thing whatever the cost. To others, it may mean: Don't listen to anyone: you're on your own. And to some others, it may simply mean: do as you please. I have argued that in a Catholic-Christian approach to conscience, autonomy, freedom, community and authority go hand in hand.

What is our conscience according to the Bible? ›

Acts 24:16) Conscience gives you the ability to evaluate your own thoughts and desires, to discern what is right and wrong, and to distinguish between what is good and what is best.

Where did conscience come from? ›

The word "conscience" derives etymologically from the Latin conscientia, meaning "privity of knowledge" or "with-knowledge". The English word implies internal awareness of a moral standard in the mind concerning the quality of one's motives, as well as a consciousness of our own actions.

What is conscience how can a person attain peace of mind? ›

Peace of conscience relates to your inner self and is controlled by what you personally do. Peace of conscience can come only from God through a righteous, obedient life. It cannot exist otherwise.

Does the Holy Spirit speak through our conscience? ›

Wayne Grudem: The Holy Spirit and Our Conscience - YouTube

What is the highest form of consciousness? ›

lucid dreaming; out-of-body experience; near-death experience; mystical experience (sometimes regarded as the highest of all higher states of consciousness)

Does God give us conscience? ›

N.H. Rev. Graham: Yes, God has put within each of us a conscience — an inner sense of right and wrong. When King Solomon rebuked someone who had wronged his father, he said, “You know in your heart all the wrong you did” (1 Kings 2:44).

What's a lack of conscience? ›

Definition. Lack of Conscience - Individuals who suffer from Personality Disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.

What are two key principles involving conscience? ›

What are the two key principles involving conscience? Two key principles of conscience are (1) always form and inform your conscience and (2) always follow your conscience.

What is a mistaken conscience? ›

Erroneous conscience is when a person knowingly, or unknowingly, makes a mistake in judgement by doing the wrong thing which they, consciously, believed was the right thing to do.

What kind of person has no conscience? ›

Sociopath is a term people use, often arbitrarily, to describe someone who is apparently without conscience.

Is conscience the same as guilt? ›

A guilty conscience is when you feel you've done something wrong and feel guilty because of it. Your conscience can lead to guilt, but conscience is not the same as guilt.

Is it possible to not have a conscience? ›

A sociopath has no conscience. Behavioral: Someone who is a sociopath is impulsive and unreliable. As a result of these traits, the sociopath also lacks the ability to set long-term goals. Further, he can't, or won't, accept responsibility for his actions.

What do some people claim about the idea of conscience? ›

What do some people claim about the idea of conscience? Some people deny the very existence of a personal conscience, positing that the idea of conscience is no more than an attempt to control people through guilt.

How does the Catholic Church understand the concept of conscience? ›

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes that “a well-formed conscience is upright and truthful” and that “[t]he education of the conscience is a lifelong task.” According to the Catechism, the “Word of God” (i.e., the Bible) and the “authoritative teaching of the Church” should guide the formation and ...

What can lead to an erroneous judgment by one's conscience? ›

Several factors that can lead to erroneous conscience are ignorance, insincerity, bad example, enslavement to passions, false ideas, rejecting Church authority, lack of love, and lack of repentance.

What is a conscience in the Bible? ›

Some Christians believe that the conscience is the voice of God. God is speaking to individuals, guiding them to do the right thing in a given situation. Conscience can be described as a moral sense of right and wrong. A conscience must be educated, as an uneducated conscience can make a wrong decision.

Why did God give us a conscience? ›

The conscience is a wonderful gift from God. He has generously placed His standards of right and wrong in the mind of every person. He's done this to lead us into the best life possible. Without a conscience, we'd have no ability to function in community.

What does the Catholic Church say about conscience? ›

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes that “a well-formed conscience is upright and truthful” and that “[t]he education of the conscience is a lifelong task.” According to the Catechism, the “Word of God” (i.e., the Bible) and the “authoritative teaching of the Church” should guide the formation and ...

What is conscience referred to as according to Islam? ›

The Islamic concept of Taqwa is closely related to conscience. In the Qur'ān verses 2:197 & 22:37 Taqwa refers to "right conduct" or "piety", "guarding of oneself" or "guarding against evil".

Does the Holy Spirit speak through our conscience? ›

Wayne Grudem: The Holy Spirit and Our Conscience - YouTube

Does God have conscience? ›

Rev. Graham: Yes, God has put within each of us a conscience — an inner sense of right and wrong. When King Solomon rebuked someone who had wronged his father, he said, “You know in your heart all the wrong you did” (1 Kings 2:44).

Where is conscience Located in the Bible? ›

Hebrews 9:14 says the blood of Christ not only saves us, but it cleanses our conscience so we understand what honors God. We call that our Christian conscience.

What is the highest form of consciousness? ›

lucid dreaming; out-of-body experience; near-death experience; mystical experience (sometimes regarded as the highest of all higher states of consciousness)

What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and your conscience? ›

Bring It On-Line: Conscience vs. the Holy Spirit - YouTube

Do we have a conscience? ›

That we have a conscience at all relates to how evolution has shaped our neurobiology for social living. Thus, we judge what is right or wrong using feelings that urge us in a general direction and judgement that shapes these urges into actions.

Why is conscience important to Catholics? ›

The Church promotes the role of conscience in establishing right and wrong actions, and applying and understanding natural law. Conscience can be described as the voice of God within each individual. Conscience has to be listened to and used alongside reason to make decisions.

How do I keep my conscience clear? ›

Release regret to redirect your focus on positive action.
  1. Lingering Effects of a Bipolar Mood Episode. ...
  2. #1 Be Brave & Stop the Self-Blame. ...
  3. #2 Set Clear Boundaries & Expectations. ...
  4. #3 Find Compassion. ...
  5. #4 Increase Self-Awareness. ...
  6. #5 Take Action & Start Small. ...
  7. #6 Acknowledge Progress.
2 Feb 2022

What makes a conscience? ›

The concept of “conscience", as commonly used in its moral sense, is the inherent ability of every healthy human being to perceive what is right and what is wrong and, on the strength of this perception, to control, monitor, evaluate and execute their actions [25].

What is our conscience? ›

What Does Conscience Mean? The noun conscience refers to a state of awareness or a sense that one's actions or intentions are either morally right or wrong, along with a feeling of obligation to do the right thing.

Where did conscience come from? ›

and directly from Latin conscientia "a joint knowledge of something, a knowing of a thing together with another person; consciousness, knowledge;" particularly, "knowledge within oneself, sense of right and wrong, a moral sense," abstract noun from conscientem (nominative consciens), present participle of conscire "be ...

What is a good conscience? ›

idiom US formal (UK in all conscience) without feeling guilty: You couldn't, in good conscience, ask her to pay the whole bill!

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