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Catholic Definitions Abbess Abbey Abbot Accident Absolute Actual Grace Adoration Amen Angel Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Apostolic Apostolic Constitution Apostolic Exhortation Apostolic Letter Art Assent Authority Avarice Baptism Benign Bible Bishop Brotherly Love Bull Calumny Canon Law Capital Sins Capital Virtues Cardinal Virtues Catechesis Catholic Charity Chastity Chrism Christ’s Commands Church Cloister Codex Communio Compassion Completion Story Concupiscence Confession Confirmation Consecration Conscience Conservatism Continence Convent Corporal Works of Mercy Counsel Custody of the Senses Deacon Deaconess Death Detraction Dicastery Diligence Divine Office Doctrine Dogma Double Effect Dulia Economy of Salvation Ecumenical Ecumenical Council Encyclical Epistle Encyclica Letter Envy Eternity Eucharist Evangelization Ex Cathedra Ex Opere Operantis Ex Opere Operato Faith Fear Fideism Form Fortitude Four Last Things Friar Friday Abstinence Fruits of the Holy Spirit Gifts of the Holy Spirit Gluttony Good Grace Heaven Hell Holy Heresy Holy Eucharist Holy Orders Hope Humility Hyperdulia Hypostatic Union Immortal Impassible Indulgence Infallible Intellectual Virtues Intrinsic Joy Judgment Justice Justification Knowledge Latria Letter Liberality Limbo Liturgy Longanimity Lust Magisterium Man Marriage Matrimony Matter Meek Mercy Message Mild Miracle Modernism Modesty Monastery Monk Mortal Sin Motu Proprio Nun Obedience One Orders Original Sin Pallium Parable Pasch Patience Pauline Privilege Peace Penance Piety Pope Prayer Precept Preternatural Pride Priest Prophet Prudence Purgatory Purity Rationalism Religious Reparation Revelation Rule Sacrament Sacramental Presence Sacred Tradition Sacrifice Saint Sanctifying Grace Science Scrupulosity Sin Sister Sloth Soul Spirit Spiritual Direction Spiritual Works of Mercy Substance Supernatural Synoptic Telepathy Temperance Theological Virtues Theology Transubstantiation Trinity Triumphalist Truly, truly Ultramontane Understanding Vatican II Vademecum Vanity Veneration Venial Sin Victim Virtues Wisdom Words of Institution Worship Wrath
Conscience is the application of Catholic moral principles to particular situations. It is an operation of the intellect, not of the will. Our conscience is correct when its moral appraisal of the applicable principles is true, or in error if its moral appraisal of the applicable principles is false.
We may be certain or doubtful of the moral principles applicable in a particular case. We always obey when our conscience is certain, even though it may be objectively false, since it is the nearest available standard we have for knowing what is right or wrong. Jesus will judge us by our fidelity to our informed conscience. We never act on a doubtful conscience. If we do we say to God, “This may please or offend You, but I don’t care. I will do it anyway.”
We need to know the general principles of faith and reason in order to assess the goodness or badness of a particular situation. If we say to Jesus, “I love You, but I’m not interested in knowing how You want me to live,” He will ask us, Lk 6:46 “Why do you call Me ’Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” He told us, Mt 7:21 “Not every one who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
Christ’s moral principles are objective. The conscience of the faithful, even
when informed by the virtue of prudence,
must be subject to the Church, whose duty is to explain the whole moral law
authoritatively. These principles evoke great moral courage and generosity.
The Church honors men and women of principle only because they had objective
principles to follow and, if need be, to die for. The martyrs suffered even
torture and death rather than deny Christ.
Christ’s moral principles are independent of the subjective judgment of the human mind. Their validity is not conditioned by changing circumstances or times.
» Study the moral teachings of the Church.
» Make an appointment with the priest and ask him to help resolve a hard issue in our life.
» During Confession, listen to the priest’s explanation and advice.
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