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  1. 1. Conscience Formation a process of discernment
  2. 2. What is the conscience? <ul><li>Definition: </li></ul><ul><li>Conscience is the inner sense of right and wrong that enables individuals to discern moral choices freely. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Should I always follow my conscience? <ul><li>Catholic Church says YES </li></ul><ul><li>but you must make a sincere effort to form and inform your conscience rightly and honestly. </li></ul><ul><li>Does your conscience talk to you? </li></ul><ul><li>What does it say? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What you want to hear or what you need to hear? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><ul><li>Heeding your conscience give you a sense of peace and integrity deep within one’s self. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inner strength in Japanese Kanji </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. From Vatican II <ul><li>“ In the depth of your conscience, you detect a law which you did not impose upon yourself, but which holds you to obedience. </li></ul><ul><li>Always summoning you to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to your heart; do this, shun that. </li></ul><ul><li>For you have in your heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very </li></ul><ul><li>Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of your self. There you are alone with God, whose voice echoes in your depths.” </li></ul><ul><li>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, section 16 </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>While “feelings can/do influence our behavior” (Wilkes, 96),“following your conscience” is not the same as doing what you want. </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalization/justification are often used to legitimize selfish actions as righteous or okay. </li></ul><ul><li>This is subjectivism or relativism and this as widespread behavior erodes a society’s moral code. </li></ul>“ Conscience is NOT a feeling.”
  7. 7. How do you follow your conscience responsibly? <ul><li>Form it well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A well-formed conscience means: research, dialogue, patience, listening, praying, reflecting, discipline, trust. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Forming your conscience <ul><li>Internal sources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>God speaking to our heart (prayer and listening) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>External sources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moral teaching of the Church, Scripture, talking to theologians </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parent/family/friends’ behavior and our own experience </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Guilt <ul><li>Warranted and unwarranted </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Warranted Guilt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a sign of a healthy conscience </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two ways to know your guilt is warranted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You know the act is wrong </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You do it anyway </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Unwarranted Guilt <ul><li>Scrupulous </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legalistic peoples that find security in rules </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wrongly formed conscience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People that are given information/ assumptions about right and wrong that are mistaken </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>from the text: Huck Finn freeing slave Jim from Miss Watson </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Conscience off track? <ul><li>Wrongly formed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not just wrongly informed (once) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legalistic conscience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>overly guilty conscience over breaking rules, rules for rules’ sake. Could there be bad rules or laws or rules/laws that don’t apply at a certain time. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lax conscience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>one that doesn’t care enough about what is right/wrong. One does not reflect on what one is doing or the consequences. Too little guilt. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Guilt versus Shame <ul><li>GUILT is internal feeling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focuses on action: what I did </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SHAME is external </li></ul><ul><ul><li>focuses us on ‘who you are as a person’ – feeling bad about who you are </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>What is dissent? </li></ul><ul><li>If internal and external sources come into conflict: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One must follow one’s informed conscience. This is called DISSENT. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One cannot go against one’s heart. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One goes against teachings of community (Church, government) </li></ul></ul>Dissent
  14. 14. Dissent <ul><li>“The Catholic Church teaches that living by one’s conscience is essential to becoming a whole human being. </li></ul><ul><li>No one – not one’s spouse, one’s friend, or even one’s bishop – has the right to dictate to an informed Christian’s conscience” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Conscience Formation: A Call to Discernment” by Kevin Hanley, Ph.D. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Dissent is NOT doing what you feel like doing. <ul><li>Most people don’t do this properly – they react against teachings because they don’t like being told what to do. Emotions. </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of doing research, investigating the issue and history of community through reflection and prayer, one decides to “dissent”. </li></ul>
  16. 16. making good decisions <ul><li>“The conscience, informed by the moral teachings of the Church and Scripture, the instincts of the mind, and the stirrings of the heart – all utilized prayerfully – is the best buttress to personal responsibilities we have” (Wilkes, 97). </li></ul>