First of all… What is the Formation of Conscience?
“Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.1796).
Have you heard that saying “Go with what your conscience is telling you”, but what if our conscience is not formed yet or strong enough yet to fight the battles of evil messing with our mind. And trust me evil is tapping us on the shoulder tempting us daily. Yes, making good conscience decisions must be developed and fine tuned regularly to keep us in Gods good graces.
The conscience represents both the more general ability we have as human beings to know what is good and right and the concrete judgments we make in particular situations concerning what we should do or about what we have already done. Moral choices confront us with the decision to follow or depart from reason and the divine law. A good conscience makes judgments that conform to reason and the good that is willed by the Wisdom of God. A good conscience requires lifelong formation. Each baptized follower of Christ is obliged to form his or her conscience according to objective moral standards. The Word of God is a principal tool in the formation of conscience when it is assimilated by study, prayer, and practice. The prudent advice and good example of others support and enlighten our conscience. The authoritative teaching of the Church is an essential element in our conscience formation. Finally, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, combined with regular examination of our conscience, will help us develop a morally sensitive conscience.
I don’t know about you but at time I really struggle with clearing my conscience, but I trust if I give 100% and ask for help from the Holy Spirit to see what I am missing or need to keep my heart happy by following Gods word, that is what will be provided. Just, keep asking…
Also, feeling guilty or ashamed causes us to lose our happiness. So we must get rid of guilt and maintain a clear conscience if we want to be happy, because we cannot be guilty and happy at the same time. Talk about confusing…
Examination of conscience:
We are called to have a clear conscience toward God and toward men, in our hearts and in our minds, in our actions and inaction’s. To do so, it is vital that we examine our conscience daily and to ask for God’s mercy as we fall short and to ask for His strength to do better.
It is Catholic tradition for priests, religious and laity (as a Secular Carmelite I do this) who pray Compline, (Night Prayer) to pause at the beginning, and do an Examination of Conscience. The purpose of this is to look back over the day and see in what area of our life we might have sinned this day and in what way you can improve tomorrow. I am always trying to find ways to improve my life and this is a good way to find them.
This means at the beginning and at the end of every day doing a spiritual inventory, where you talk to God about anything that is standing between you and him, and you deal with the junk from your day.
A healthy conscience discerns between good and evil, and it gets weighed down with guilt over wrongdoing. This sense of guilt should motivate you to take responsibility for your actions and seek forgiveness when you have done something wrong. You will gain a clear conscience when your sin is pardoned and its accompanying guilt is resolved through genuine repentance.
“Strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” – Acts 24:16
Maintaining a clear conscience enhances your relationships in every part of life and brings many benefits, including those listed below:
- Graces to Overcome Temptation
- Alertness to Make Healthy Decisions
- Happiness in the Love of God
- Witness to the Experience of God
- Freedom to Resolve Conflicts and Build Friendships
- A Solid Foundation for the Christian Life
It takes effort and humility to maintain a clear conscience, but it is worth the investment.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” – Proverbs 28:13.