Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

25 March 2012: Fifth Sunday in Lent

Erroneous Judgment

    A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his
conscience.  If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn
himself.  Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance
and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already

    This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility.  This
is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true  and good,
or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of
committing sin."  In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he 

    Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others,
enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of  autonomy of
conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack  of
conversion and of charity:  these can be at the source of errors of 
judgment in moral conduct.

    If -- on the contrary -- this ignorance is invincible, or the moral  subject is
not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the  person
cannot be imputed to him.  It remains no less and evil, a privation, a  disorder.
One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

    A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity
proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and
sincere faith."  "The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do  persons
and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by  objective
standards of moral conduct."
                        -- Catechism of the Catholic Church
                            paragraphs 1790 - 1794

            Create a clean heart in me, O God.  (Psalm 51)

This is the fifth part of a series during Lent on conscience, taken from
the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Next week:  The right to 
religious liberty.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

18 March 2012: Fourth Sunday in Lent

To Choose In Accord With Conscience

    Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right
judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the
contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.

    Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral
judgments lass assured and decision difficult.  But he must always
seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God
expressed in divine law.

    To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience
and the signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the
advice of competent people, and by the help of the Holy Sprit and
his gifts.

    Some rules apply in every case:

        -- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;

        -- the Golden Rule:  "Whatever you wish that men would
            do to you, do so to them."

        -- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's
            neighbor and his conscience:  "Thus sinning against
            your brethren and wounding their sin
            against Christ."  Therefore "it is right not to ... do anything
            that makes your brother stumble."

                    -- Catechism of the Catholic Church
                        paragraphs 1786-1789

    "But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works
    may be clearly seen as done in God."  (John 3: 21)

This is the fourth part of a series during Lent on conscience, taken  from
the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Next week: "Erroneous Judgment."

Monday, March 5, 2012

11 March 2012: Third Sunday in Lent

The Formation of Conscience

    Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened.
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.  The education of conscience is 
indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences
and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative 

    The education of the conscience is a lifelong task.  From the earliest
years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law
recognized by conscience.  Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or
cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings
of complacency, born of human weakness and faults.  The education of the
conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

    In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path;
we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice.  We must
also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross.  We are assisted by
the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and
guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.

                        -- Catechism of the Catholic Church
                            paragraphs 1783-1785

    If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.  (Psalm 95)

This is the third part of a series during Lent on conscience, taken  from the
Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Next week:  To Choose in Accord With