Archive for the 'Conscience' Category

Our Moral Compass

Each of us has the power to make decisions, and the cumulative effect of those choices results in the goodness or badness of our society. Every action we take has an impact not just on us but on the world. All we need to do is look around us, pick up a daily paper, or watch the evening news to verify that there is much that is not right. A great deal of what is wrong is the result of the attitude and moral climate of our times. There are some who insist that this age has lost its ‘moral compass’.

As soon as we begin to speak of morality, there are those who object on the grounds that each person’s opinion is his or her own and equal to that of anyone else. For some, there can be no objective and commonly agreed-upon moral norm. For such persons, morality is an illusion. How many times have we heard that morality is a completely personal and subjective choice? This position is probably the most widespread and pernicious challenge to morality that our society has ever faced. The issue today in much of our public discourse – and certainly on talk shows – is: ‘Do values have any value?’

As Catholics, we recognize that there is more to life and human action than fleeting personal preference. Human existence is not a meaningless show of smoke and mirrors. Each one of us knows deep down at the very core of our being that there is such a thing as right and wrong – that, while the wrong choice may be alluring at the moment, it is a choice with lasting consequences. While individually we may not know the answer to every moral question, we are aware that there are answers – answers that oblige all of us.

There is right and wrong, human freedom, and the choice that each of us makes. At the core of human freedom is knowing and doing what we ‘ought’ to do rather than what we ‘can’ do. It is the voice of conscience that keeps reminding us what we ought to do even though there are enticing reasons to do otherwise.

Catholic morality is not only for Catholics. It is for everyone, because all are called to follow God’s law manifest in the natural moral order, revealed in the Ten Commandments, and made complete in Christ. Catholic morality is the authentic, central, and integral form of morality. It is the fullness of teaching on the human condition before God. Apart from faith in Christ, the great questions about the reality of feedom, the rationality of conscience, and the value of pursuing human good unselfishly cannot be fully answered. It is for this reason that we look to Jesus and listen to his Church.

Where do we go to know right from wrong in all of the myriad forms that moral issues appear today? Jesus has not left us orphans. The pledge of the Holy Spirit in the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel is verified today as it has been for twenty centuries in the teaching office of the Church. In the many issues before us today, when decisions are presented with a range of good attached to each of the multiple choices, we need to listen to the sure and Spirit-led voice of the teaching office. It guides us in issues as complex and emotional as artificial insemination, physician assisted suicide, the massacre of the powerless, and the range of social justice, bioethical, and medical-moral dilemmas that manifest the complexity of the human condition.

It is true that morality is rooted in the natural moral order, because that order follows from God’s creation. But it is equally true that God chose to reveal the moral order in the old covenant, through the Decalogue, and in the new covenant through Christ. When the Church calls the faithful to specific moral teaching, it does so with the full weight and authority of Christ, who has empowered his Church to speak for him. At the same time, the Church presents cogent and compelling reasons for her teaching based on an appeal to human nature and the natural moral order that we all share.

Life is complex. Moral decisions are difficult. But we need not fear, because we have a sure moral guide. Christ reveals to us the way. He sends the Holy Spirit to guide us and he enlightens his Church in a way that we can with confidence and trust follow its teaching in matters of faith and morals.

The moment of truth

There is a type of person who cannot find certitude and God: the person who is unaware that he is a sinner.  He admits social sin, but not individual.  There are complexes but not guilt.  If he admits to having done wrong, it was a mistake, not a sin, for sin is not part of his vocabulary.  He may admit to needing a therapist, but not a Saviour.  His wrongs are due to other people, his family, his associates, his society.

This type of person will sometimes openly assert that he does not need a God.  Money, crying angelfriends and pleasures are available in abundance: clothes and cars, dining and drinking, sex and drugs, sports and recreation, prestige and power.  Who needs more?  Who needs God?  Who needs salvation?  This person is uninterested in ideals like truth and goodness.  He does not see because he does not want to see.  And so he claims there is nothing to see.

One day this individual finds that he has been living in a world of fantasy.

It is the day when tragedy strikes.  It may be a death or the loss of money or power or prestige.  A friend may have betrayed him.  Or it may be that suddenly he is the victim of a brutal crime or he finds himself wasting away with a gnawing cancer.  

He may respond to the touch of grace and return like the prodigal, but he may also give way to despair if not suicide.  But in any case he now knows that he needs far more than power or prestige or sex or money.

This may be the moment of truth.  Hitting rock bottom can be powerful eye opener.  He may now see that indeed he is a sinner and that he drastically needs a Saviour.  The scales may have fallen from the eyes of his mind and he may be prepared to see objective evidence for the first time.

He may be ready to love and see.

Holy anger

conscience

Mannono’s comment to my post ‘Niente crisi per i veggenti’ – “irascimini et nolite peccare” – gave me much food for thought.

There is a kind of minimalist approach to the Faith to which many Catholics are prone, not because they are Catholic, but because they are men.  There is something irksome about religion, and we have a tendency either to shirk off or minimalize all that is irksome to us.  And religion is irksome because it asks of us the most difficult of all things: that we reform our lives.  Genuine reform. 

For beginners, and even for veterans of many failed campaigns, in which number I include myself, the first objective must be to make friends with one’s conscience.  It may sound odd to speak of such a necessity, but our conscience is often regarded by us as a hostile force rather than a valued ally.  We are wont to indulge in activities in which conscience cannot participate; so it stands and looks on, and its aloofness and expression of regret can be irritating in the extreme.  We rather wish it would go elsewhere for the time being and return when we summon it, not hang about with its long face casting a gloom upon our pleasures.

So how does one befriend his conscience?  The problem was addressed admirably by a monk of the late fourth century named Isaiah the Solitary.  Isaiah quotes Our Lord’s advice that we come to agreement with our adversary before he turns us over to the judge, and the judge turns us over to the officer, who will cast us into prison.  The adversary, Isaiah explains, is our conscience, whose claims we must satisfy if we are to escape judgment and condemnation.  Chief among the means of satisfying conscience is the proper use of what he calls “the incensive power” – an anger of the intellect that is in accord with nature, which he identifies as the nature which God gave us, not our fallen condition as a result of original sin, which he regards as unnatural.  He writes: “Without anger a man cannot attain purity; he has to feel angry with all that is sown in him by the enemy”.  This “holy anger” can help us in our efforts to establish a habit of attentiveness.  We must develop a detestation of sin, realizing its ugliness and malice, and then set about rooting out its causes.  We must stop aiding and abetting the enemy and stand on the side of the angels, and then conscience will be transformed from being our accuser to being our defender.


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IN HOC SIGNO VINCES




INDIFFERENTISM is a mortal sin; a condemned heresy. That's the Catholic view of the matter. INDIFFERENTISM paves the way to MORAL RELATIVISM. I have been accused of the opposite of ‘Indifferentism’, which is defined as ‘Rigorism’, and the charge is not without some merit. I believe in a rigorous following of Church doctrine and in strict accuracy in proper Catholic catechesis, and I openly attack watered-down Catholic doctrine and catechesis whenever and wherever I encounter it. Many friends scold me saying that for me it’s either my way or the highway. But here’s the thing … it’s not my way; I didn’t make up all (or any of) the rules of Catholicism. I’ve been told “you’re too rigid in your doctrine,” as if it were my doctrine. When it comes to Catholic catechesis, there is only one Church teaching, and it is represented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’m prepared to defend any item in it, against any opponent. I draw the line at ‘indifferentism’ and ‘moral relativism’. All belief systems are not the same. The ones who push it the most are the ones who seek to replace it with something less. Again, indifferentism paves the way to moral decay. Don’t let it seep into your thinking. May you please God, and may you live forever.

“Oremus pro beatissimo Papa nostro Benedicto XVI: Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.”



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MODERN CATHOLICS SEE THE CHURCH AS AN ‘OLD-FASHIONED’ DISCRIMINATORY INSTITUTION OF WHICH THEY ARE ASHAMED – A TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC WILL DIE TO DEFEND IT.

MODERN CATHOLICS WOULD JUST AS SOON LEAVE THE CHURCH FOR A TRENDY ALTERNATIVE IF THEY DON’T GET THEIR WAY – A TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC WILL REMAIN UNTIL THE END OF TIME.


THE CHURCH MILITANT NOW, MORE THAN EVER, NEEDS STRONG WARRIORS.




The Catholic Church doesn’t need progressives, Nor does it need Reactionary Conservatives - It badly needs Catholic Traditionalists that practice faith, hope and charity. So don’t be shy! Come forward.

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward - in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed and will not prevail against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing - the historic Catholic Church - was founded upon a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”
(G.K. Chesterton)



Anno Sacerdotale

Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010.
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Quest'anno sia anche un'occasione per un periodo di intenso approfondimento dell'identità sacerdotale, della teologia del sacerdozio cattolico e del senso straordinario della vocazione e della missione dei sacerdoti nella Chiesa e nella società.
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Let your light so shine before men that, seeing your good works, they may glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
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In Domino laudabitur anima mea.





"That sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared, and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more profound understanding."- Pope Leo XIII, Testem Benevolentiae

Nessuno di noi entrerà in Paradiso senza portare con sé un fratello o una sorella. Ciascuno di noi deve uscire dalla folla e reggersi sulle proprie gambe, fiero di essere un Cattolico e capace di testimoniare la sua Fede.
Ci stiamo comportando come se la Fede Cattolica fosse un affare privato. Questo non è affatto vero. Penso che potremo andare molto, molto lontano, se riusciremo a convincere tutti i Cattolici a farsi carico della salvezza del mondo intero.
Il mondo ha bisogno di essere salvato e deve essere ciascuno di noi a farlo.




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“We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe”.
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Iesus vero ait eis - Sinite parvulos, et nolite eos prohibere ad me venire - talium est enim regnum caelorum.




“There is another essential aspect of Christianity: the interior, the silent, the contemplative, in which hidden wisdom is more important than practical organizational science, and in which love replaces the will to get visible results”.
(Thomas Merton)



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Uno dei Suoi nomi è "Consolatore"!




Confession

Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.




“Almeno sei volte durante gli ultimi anni mi sono trovato nella situazione di convertirmi senza esitazione al cattolicesimo, se non mi avesse trattenuto dal compiere il gesto azzardato l'averlo già fatto”.
(G.K. Chesterton)



"Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more."

(St. Ignatius of Loyola - Spiritual Exercises, #234)



"Mia madre è stata veramente una martire; non a tutti Gesù concede di percorrere una strada così facile, per arrivare ai suoi grandi doni, come ha concesso a mio fratello e a me, dandoci una madre che si uccise con la fatica e le preoccupazioni per assicurarsi che noi crescessimo nella fede".
J.R.R. Tolkien scrisse queste parole nove anni dopo la morte di sua madre.






Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)




“Beati sarete voi quando vi oltraggeranno e perseguiteranno, e falsamente diranno di voi ogni male per cagion mia. Rallegratevi ed esultate perché grande è la vostra ricompensa nei cieli”.