|The Sacred Heart of Jesus being adored by the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Margret Mary Alacoque|
In a world that has made the word “freedom” synonymous with “I can do whatever I want as long as I’m not ‘hurting’ anyone”, the question of why we need rules in society, and why we should keep them, often comes up in daily life. And that question comes up even more when it pertains to religion. We are frequently exhorted today to “break the rules” and to “find our own path”, as well as to “follow our hearts” in all matters. True, there are some rules that may need to be broken. For instance, those that are objectively unjust to human rights and have been dictated by an oppressive government, as we’ve seen through the civil disobedience of people like Gandhi and Rosa Parks.
One may also rightly “find their own path” in the context that there’s not just one way to a career in a certain field or in reaching a goal, such as financial stability. And even the phrase “follow your heart” may be good advice if one’s well-formed conscience leads that person to be truly compassionate and merciful towards their fellow man in a difficult situation. However, too often it seems, we have twisted these three popular sayings around into something that doesn’t jive with the Gospel. We beg the question “just what is a well-formed conscience, and do we truly possess a conscience that is in accord with, and assents to, Church teaching?” Why do so many in our current cultural climate (and increasingly so, more and more Catholic Christians) feel as if they are burdened by the prescriptions of Christianity to the point where they are ignored and discarded? If it’s a truth that Jesus has given us the New Law, the New Covenant in His Blood, why do we “enlightened” citizens of the 21st century feel the need to disregard that law and “follow our hearts” instead? It has become quite clear that we should be following something other than our own hearts.
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