"What is Conscience?"

By Paul Dion, STL

This will take us down some rather interesting paths. Go for it!

A great many of us consider a lot of things when we consider behavior, ours and that of others. We look around to see if anyone is watching. We review the ten commandments, the civil law, the rules of the "game", the "political" impact of our actions.

The question for this week then is:

"What is conscience, and what role does it play in our Christian lives?"

This is not a pop quiz - there are no pass or fail marks. Nor is this an intellectual exercise. It is a mere opportunity to look into your hearts and let your spirituality speak out. If you are too shy, you can always post anonymously.

So let us know what you think. Post a thought today.


  1. Anonymous12:49 PM

    "Conscience" is the faculty, in most of us, of recognizing the difference between right and wrong with regards to one's own behaviour, furthermore, it is the conformity to one's own sense of proper conduct.

    The same faculty of "right and wrong" exists in our Christian lives. The way I look at it, this is really quite simple, providing, of course, that you have a conscience, which many don't.

  2. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Conscience is that part of us that lets us know if something is good or bad. The angel on my right and the devil on my left is simplistic but true in a way. However that is a childish way of looking at it as adults. It was ok when we were young, but not now.

    I believe our first impulses of looking at things is good. If one is brought up knowing what is 'right' and 'wrong', then as we grow older, the more we choose the good, God Himself. The more we choose the good, the easier it is to always do it,(a good habit that is a grace of God called virtue).

    We learn love at our parents knees, then about God and the two are so connected we usually learn to love everyone else.

    However, as we grow older the lines become blurred, as in our present society and what IT considers good, is not always good, and then doubt enters in, and we do look around to see if anyone is looking and we consider the options (and here is where the free will comes in) then we can sometimes convince ourselves that IT (a sin) is ok, everyone else is doing it and then we sin. (The way we can justify our actions to soothe our consciences has always been amazing to me.)

    That is where Satan enters in. We do have to ask ourselves if it is right and moral, as in, "if I do such a thing, will I be hurting myself and not only myself, but God. Will I be separating myself from God and separating myself from the community of which we are all a part, as in the Body of Christ.

    But in the end, I believe that though we are sinners, God loves us so much that he gives us His Holy Spirit to guide and teach us the way we should go, as in His Son Jesus to model for us the love of the Father and how we are to love our neighbor.

  3. Dennis12:58 PM

    Conscience is the ultimate arbiter of my behavior. The quality of my response to my conscience is the quality of my life before God. I could follow bishop and pope and still be damned if in so doing I
    betrayed my true conscience.

    I am not responsible for what others are called to do, or say, or stand for; but what is given me to be or do, that I must be and do or suffer the consequences.

    Conscience is the "still, small voice" which speaks the mind of God into our hearts and minds. If we would be happy we must heed that voice. The only problem is that there is another voice also small and still and very insistent and at times more pleasant that whispers in my heart and mind.

    This is the voice of the adversary who tells me that my wishes are better than yours, my needs are more important than yours, that my desires must be satisfied because I am more important than anyone else.

    These two voices speak with equal warmth, persuasion the latter more compelling than the former because the adversary lists deceit among his tools while God is self-limited to truth.

    And the truth is; I am important but not that important, not more important, just as important. God's voice calls me to worry about his children and put my self aside for them confident that He will take care of me.

    In the confusion of my selfhood I cannot always discern between these voices. I will listen sometimes to the wrong voice and wind up in some dingy dead end, obliged to re-trace my steps to get back on the road.

    In "FROM HERE TO ETERNITY", James Jones has Prewitt lamenting, "You'd think that when, after a long struggle and much thought, you'd done the right thing, that you'd get a break. But no, every day's a millennium!"

    Every good choice leads right on to another choice; only bad choices lead to freedom from choice. This is because God is pro-choice.

    The Devil, the adversary, is perfectly willing to chain me down to my last bad choice and let me live and die there, a slave to his victory over me.

    God insists that I use my freedom to keep choosing to do right. Therefore He has given me Scripture, the written record of our unfolding relationship with Him. He has given me teachers over centuries to guide me in unpacking the wisdom of Holy Writ. He has given me the Church which over the years has studied and discerned and preserved those writings most useful to my salvation by the informing of my conscience.

    The conscience is the ultimate arbiter but an unformed, un-informed conscience is a death trap for the soul. Only through study, attention to teaching, prayer and the practice of the sacraments can I hope to hear and heed the voice which calls me to be for others as He was for us. The voice of happy endings rather than easy beginnings.

  4. Anonymous12:59 PM

    Our conscience, an integral part of our mind's thought process, keeps our soul in touch with God. Vital to our Christian lives, our conscience is the Voice of Our Lord, guiding us along our life's path.

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger beautifully relates to us the role of our conscience in our Christian lives when he tells us: "The Lord is near us in our conscience, in His Word, in His personal presence in the Eucharist this constitutes the dignity of the Christian and the reason for his joy." (an excerpt from the book "God Is Near Us" by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, our current Pope Benedict XVI.)

    Our Lord's greatest gift to us is our life, for which He gave His Life, so that we might have everlasting life! The greatest gift we, can give Him, is to listen to our conscience, as He speaks to us, and if we listen with true devotion, then we will live our lives devoutly, as He
    desires, and our reward will be everlasting life in heaven as our soul, merges perfectly with His.

  5. PAUL DION, STL1:10 PM


    I could not have said it better. Here I leave it because the participants have shown that their wisdom and grace in this matter are impeccable.