Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Conscience at Pentecost

Lord, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom. Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.

Create a pure heart in me, God, put a steadfast spirit into me. Do not send me away from your presence, or withdraw your Holy Spirit from me; give me again the joy of your salvation, and be ready to strengthen me with your Spirit.
(Ps. 51:8-9, 12-14)
At the Ascension, speaking of Pentecost, Jesus said, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses." By this, Jesus called us to be a light of truth to the world. But although we may find that light within us, we do not create the light, God Himself is the Light, and as His witnesses, we merely allow Him to shine through us, and He provides the grace for us to be able to do that.

It has been said below that one cannot, in all good conscience, acquiesce or do nothing in the face of evil, much less give into and cooperate with it, but must instead oppose it. And one cannot justify doing that which is objectively evil by insisting that such conduct does not violate his “conscience,” as if he could choose or create his own conscience. After all, one such as Adolf Hitler could in all sincerity assert that his conscience was not bothered at all by his actions. Indeed, many of the true believers of the Nazi regime believed that what they were doing was virtuous. But that is not the conscience, that is the will.

Over at Vita Nostra in Ecclesia, we consider how discerning right from wrong, good from evil, is not always so easy. Sometimes it can be very difficult. And even when it is clear, sometimes listening to the voice of conscience and resisting evil can be difficult because it might bring with it adverse consequences, it might cost you your life, as it did with Sophie Scholl and other members of the White Rose who sought to be a light and witness of truth to a darkened Germany.

But God does not leave us alone to fend for ourselves in seeking to live our lives in the light of truth and in fighting against the darkness of evil.

Rather, as His Holiness Pope John Paul II taught in Dominum et Vivificantem, He has sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us, to be a light for our conscience and the grace of fortitude to follow it.

On this day of Pentecost, as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, please go over to Vita Nostra in Ecclesia to learn more.

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