Reflection on Article 1794 of the Catechism

My dear parishioners,
Peace! Under headings of Judgment, Formation, Choice in Accord, Erroneous Judgment and In Brief, the Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses “conscience” in twenty-nine passages. Here we consider CCC, 1794.
Three things can be distinguished in the Catechism when considering conscience: true faith, good conscience, pure conscience.
True faith enlightens a good and pure conscience. We know that the truth will set us free (cf. John 8:32) and that the Lord Jesus is Himself ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (cf. John 14:6). True faith, therefore has to do with believing in God and all that He has revealed, divine revelation, of old through the prophets and in His Son in the fullness of time (cf. Hebrews 1:1). It is not enough for us to guard and treasure the faith handed on once for all the saints, we have to put it into practice, working in love (cf. James 1:27; Jude 1:3). If we allow any errors or heresy to creep into our hearts and minds and deed then our faith is not true and we are not enlightened. This leads to disordered desires and deeds, which in turn deprive us of good and pure conscience. A good conscience is well formed according to both faith and reason. A pure conscience similarly is well formed but also has our desires and deeds conforming to the well formed conscience. Saint Paul seems to have be aware of such when inspired by the Holy Spirit he wrote 1 Corinthians 4:3-4: “I care very little, however, if I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not vindicate me. It is the Lord who judges me.”
The Catechism tightly links several passages of Sacred Scripture in teaching us about these things: ‘charity proceeds at the same time ‘from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith’’ (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:1-17; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 24:16). Article 16 of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes (7 December, 1965), is also invoked in the Catechism regarding how a ‘correct conscience’ allows us as individuals and as a people in society or other groupings ‘to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.’ Here, a ‘correct conscience’ is a good and pure conscience. While these were challenging teachings some fifty years ago, they are no less challenging today. There have been and are those who may say there is no objective truth or standards by which people are to live. As followers of Christ and members of His mystical body Mother Church, we know that the truth will set us free, truths of faith and morals, truths which call us to hunger and thirst for righteousness in the here and now, so as to allow us in God’s mercy to have a blessed eternity in the hereafter.
God bless you!
Father John Arthur Orr


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