Reflection on Article 1795 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, 1795.
Conscience is our most secret core and our sanctuary where we are alone with God whose voice echoes in our depths (cf. Gaudium et spes, 16).
With apologies to Merriam-Webster, conscience is not a nebulous “feeling” or merely an opinion but a judgment that something is good or evil upon which we are to base our behavior. Our friends at the Oxford English Dictionary remind us that the English term conscience is a contraction from the Latin terms con (with) and scire (to know).
Conscience is our secret core. While people are able to see our deeds they can not see what is going on within our hearts. God, however, is able to see our deeds and our desires. The human soul is the core of our very being. Planets have a core (e.g. nickle-iron for Earth) as do fruit (think of apples and pineapples…). For conscience to be our “core” is to have everything else, deeds and desires included, to radiate out from the core. Not even an X-ray or MRI can detect this aspect of our being.
Conscience is our sanctuary where we are alone with God. We can gain some insight from Psalm 150:1, which directs us to “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse.” Whenever we do and desire whatever is good, true and beautiful we glorify and praise the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 2:12). Exodus 25:8 reminds us how the sanctuary is the dwelling place of the Lord God. Following the resurrection of the Lord Jesus we are reminded how the risen Lord did not enter a man-made copy of the true sanctuary but entered Heaven itself (cf. Hebrews 9:24).
Through conscience the voice of God echoes in our depths. There is to be no contradiction between the public voice of the Lord heard in Sacred Scripture and the sure and certain teachings of Mother Church and the examples of the Saints and that which resonates deep within us. Of old, God spoke through Moses, Isaiah and others but now has spoken to us through His Son (cf. Isaiah 45:1; Zechariah 1:3; Haggai 1:7; John 1:17; Hebrews 1:1-22). Whenever we pray, as we should each day, we not only lift our hearts and minds to God thanking Him for countless blessings, praising Him for all of His wonders, begging His mercy for our sins and asking further blessings upon ourselves and others, but we need to spend some of our prayer time allowing God to speak to us. Reading Sacred Scripture allows God to speak to us since the Scripture is His Word. Studying the moral and doctrinal teachings of Mother Church allows us to hear God through His bride (cf. Luke 10:16)
God bless you!
Father John Arthur Orr


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