Monday, March 13, 2017

Timely Words From Pope St. John Paul II on Conscience

As part of my Lenten devotions, I'm currently reading "In Conversation With God" from Opus Dei priest Fr. Francis Fernandez. Today, meditation was "Conscience- the light  of the soul". He himself gives great insight, but he quoted the words of St. John Paul II; words that the great pope gave exactly 36 years ago this Wednesday from his Angelus address:

I provide the link from the Vatican website in Italian, and I was able to translate the relevant parts from the Spanish, with Google and Fr. Fernandez's translations. I thought this would be good to share this, as it regards to all the talk going on about "conscience" lately in the wake of the controversy caused by certain interpretations of Amoris Laetitia. Please read in its entirety, but here are some snippets:
St. John Paul II at Yankee Stadium, 1979

March 15, 1981
"Our prayer, during Lent, looks to awaken the consciences, to sensitize them in relation to the voice of God. "Do not harden your heart," says the Psalmist. In fact, the necrosis [or, the numbing] of consciences, their indifference to good and evil, their deviations, are a great threat to man. Indirectly they are also a threat to society, because, ultimately, the moral level of society depends on human consciousness.
"And so, our Lenten prayer for the sensitivity of the consciences has a multiple meaning. The man who has a hardened heart and a degenerate conscience, even when he can enjoy the fullness of his physical powers and capacities, is sick spiritually, and it is necessary to do everything possible to give him back the health of his soul. 
"...Dear brothers and sisters who suffer, who feel physically disadvantaged, help with prayer and with the sacrifice of your sufferings, of your hard fate, those who are sick in the soul. Sometimes they do not even know it, they do not realize how sick their immortal soul is. His conscience has numbed and hardened his heart. Help them wake up! Help them to receive the voice of the living God,  the voice that speaks in Lent with the sacrifice of the Cross of Christ!"
To me, this flies in the face of the rhetoric we've been hearing in regards to how one must follow their conscience absolutely, even if it leads them into sin as our Lord and His Church warn us against partaking in. We must take into account whether or not that conscience is poorly formed, and St. John Paul explicitly states that some do not even realize how malformed their conscience may be! Or how this malformed conscience is making them so spiritually sick!

We would all benefit from reflecting on this message on the 36th anniversary of the Pope's words.

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