September 18, 2022
“‘We will buy the lowly for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!’
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Never will I forget a thing they have done!”
“First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.”
“No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
The Catholic Church holds to the priority of conscience for each individual making moral choices. You must follow your conscience. It should be well formed, but to deny your conscience is to deny your very self and to deny God. In Gaudium et Spes, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the Second Vatican Council taught (and it was later quoted in The Catechism of the Catholic Church), “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment.... For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God.... His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” Conscience should never be violated by external force or internal betrayal. Sin can dull our conscience, ignorance hobble it, or indifference neglect it. Sacred scripture, study, worship, practice of virtues, generosity, service for others, examination, and authentic friendships all strengthen and nourish our conscience. Prayer, as a privileged and personal place of encounter with God, in all its forms, styles, and practices, opens up the conscience to more fully hear the echoes of God’s voice in our depths. Our conscience is, in the end, where we are alone with God.
In our daily lives, our conscience serves to expand our horizons. The limits of each situation, our personal interests, and even the physical constraints of this world can form a boundary that excludes faith, hope, or love. We get hemmed in to acting as if this is all that is. Our conscience reminds us that there is something more. Everything we do, even the little things, can have an eternal significance and purpose. Our conscience opens our eyes to the broadest of possibilities. It focuses our vision on the eternal, divine, and holy. It brings the transcendent into the mundane and elevates the ordinary into the infinite. What we do today matters for all eternity. The good and the ill have consequences beyond this life, beyond this world. Our conscience shines a light on this vast reality. All of our readings today shine this light and expand the boundaries of everyday life with an eternal horizon. See further! Alone with God in your conscience, in your sanctuary and secret core, expand your vision to love above all things and in all things. “Love,” St. Paul tells us, “never fails.”