My prayer, meditation and reading this week seemed to have the common thread of wisdom and conscience. I also happened to come across an article by Deacon Douglas McManaman on the subject of conscience. This article got me to thinking about what conscience is and is not.
It is not uncommon to hear people say that they are following their conscience. In our culture today, however, that statement can be very misleading and also just plain wrong. There is a difference between decisions that are made according to a well-formed conscience and those that are made from a conscience that is ill-formed or even dead.
The statement "I am following my conscience." in today's culture often means: "I am doing what is right and best for me." That's not conscience, but rather moral relativism and it runs rampant in our current culture.
The well~formed conscience requires wisdom. True wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit. When we open ourselves to receive this gift and allow the Holy spirit to enliven it within us, we are able to make decisions with a morally, well~formed conscience. This gift also allows us to follow Christ's teachings as they have been handed down to us through the Apostles. The Magesterium is the teaching body of the Church. It does not exist as something or someone telling us what we can or cannot do. The Magesterium exists for our freedom~the freedom to choose and do what is morally right according to the absolute Truth.
The sense of right and wrong according to an absolute truth is looked upon today as something that violates personal freedom and choice. This sense is the result of living our lives according to man's law, not God's natural law. I know this to be true because for much of my life, I lived with this mindset and it led to nothing but death, destruction and much unhappiness. But the "I can do what I feel is best for me according to me" is one of the many lies Satan would have us believe. It may sound good on the outside, but upon further inspection it is rotten to the core.
It takes humility to accept the wisdom required to form a well and morally formed conscience, but when we do it gives us the freedom to live in Christ, asking for His mercy and forgiveness when we need it, and the grace to truly know the difference between right and wrong.
*Related Article: Conscience by Deacon Douglas McManaman