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Newsletter

 

IRISH DOMINICAN PARISH NEWSLETTER

February 2019

 

 

 Moral Conscience: Catholic Teaching for a Strong Faith

 

Understanding conscience is essential for the life of faith. A solid grasp of Catholic teaching about conscience makes it possible to live a moral life. And sadly..…a defective understanding can destroy your moral life.

For a Catholic, this is an essential issue to understand properly.

Conscience may be the single most misunderstood issue among Catholics today!

This topic is so important that you should read this article, and then carefully study the Catechism’s section on conscience.

 

A natural facility to judge

Conscience is a natural facility of our reason that does three things:

Reminds us always to do good and avoid evil.

Makes a judgment about the good and evil of particular choices in a specific situation.

Bears witness after the fact to the good or evil that we have done. (i.e. having a guilty conscience.)

Conscience is a powerful and remarkable facility that is distinctly human.

Understand that conscience is a judgment of reason. It uses the objective principles of the moral law to judge the morality of acts in specific circumstances. Conscience is not itself the source of the moral law.

This is a common point of misunderstanding. Many who reject Church teaching will say, “I’m just following my conscience.” What they usually mean is that they’re looking to their conscience as the source of moral principles, which is a serious error.

I’ll be blunt: it’s likely that some other Catholics will challenge you on this point, and you’ll have to defend it. (I know, it’s not fair! It’s a long story, but a lot of people have been taught weak or bad doctrine for many years….)  Pope John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor contains a definitive discussion about conscience in sections 54-64; number 64 particularly speaks to this point.

Everyone has a duty to form their conscience. Formation of conscience simply means educating and training it. We do this by learning and taking to heart the objective moral law, as found in Scripture and the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church. This forms conscience in objective moral truth as taught by Christ and his Church.

Practicing the virtues is another aspect of forming the conscience. This not only lets us do good acts, but it trains the will to desire to do good. In

particular, the virtue of prudence affects the ability of conscience to judge rightly.

 

You must follow your conscience

A fundamental principle of Catholic morality is that you must follow your conscience. But be careful: there’s a strong tendency for all of us to distort the full meaning of that principle! We tend to use it as a giant loophole for doing any old thing that we’d like.

A well-formed conscience will never contradict the objective moral law, as taught by Christ and his Church. (Catechism, 1783-5, 1792, 2039)

A safe way to read this principle is: if your conscience is well-formed, and you are being careful to reason clearly and objectively from true moral principles, then you must follow the reasoned judgment of your conscience about the morality of a specific act. Otherwise, seek reliable guidance in forming your conscience.

The principle that we must follow our conscience derives from…

 

The dignity of conscience

The authority of conscience, and our need to follow it, come from its dignity.

Pope John Paul II tells us that conscience is an “interior dialog of man with himself” about right and wrong. It “is also a dialog of man with God”: it is “the witness of God himself” calling him to obey the moral law, and is a person’s “witness of his own faithfulness or unfaithfulness.” This is the basis of the great dignity of the conscience: it derives from its witness to objective moral truth. (Veritatis Splendor, 57-58, 60)

Conscience is the means God has given us to make moral decisions. Our freedom demands that we use it: “When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.” (Catechism, 1777)

But we compromise this dignity of conscience if we haven’t formed our conscience well, or when we do not take care to reason clearly and objectively. Again, Pope John Paul II teaches:

“Jesus alludes to the danger of the conscience being deformed when he warns: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt 6:22-23). (Veritatis Splendor, 63)

 

Erroneous judgment

Conscience does not always judge properly. Out of ignorance or bad reasoning, it can judge wrongly.

Erroneous judgment is often our own fault, and can have many causes (from Catechism, 1791-2):

Lack of care in forming our conscience or our powers of reason

Misunderstanding conscience

Damage caused by repeated and habitual sin

Following the bad example of others

Rejection of Church teaching

Ignorance of Christ and the Gospels

Neglecting the work of our conversion to Christ

Neglect of charity

If our conscience errs and we’re responsible for the error, then we are guilty of the evil committed. We are not guilty for the evil if we’re not responsible for the error.

But even if the guilt is not imputable to us, it’s still an evil act. This greatly hinders our ability to advance in the moral life and live in union with God.

As Pope John Paul II puts it:

“…the performance of good acts… constitutes the indispensable condition of and path to eternal blessedness…. Only the act in conformity with the good can be a path that leads to life…. If [an act is not good]…, the choice of that action makes our will and ourselves morally evil, thus putting us in conflict with our ultimate end, the supreme good, God himself. (Veritatis Splendor, 72, emphasis in the original)

 

The key to the moral life

The good or evil of specific acts shapes our whole life.

We choose God or reject him specifically in the morality of our actions. We must choose to do good in order to choose God, grow in freedom, sanctify ourselves, and let God’s grace work in us to make us “children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (Catechism, 1996)

Moral conscience is the key that makes this moral life possible: it is exactly how we know what the good is in specific cases, and it beckons us to always choose the good. And even when we choose wrongly, conscience calls us to seek God’s merciful forgiveness so that we can begin again.

from the beginning Catholic

 

The Feast of The Chair Of St Peter

This feast, celebrated on 22nd February, celebrates the fact that Peter established his See in Rome. Christians were known to have celebrated this feast before the Fourth Century. The original name found on the ancient calendars was Natale Petri de Cathedra and the original date was 22 February.

The Lord said to Simon Peter: I have prayed that your faith may not fail; and you in your turn must strengthen your brothers (Entrance Antiphon Luke 22:32).

The Chair of Saint Peter refers to his seat of authority. The Fathers of the Church used this term as a symbol of a bishop’s authority, paying special regard to the Bishop of Rome. In the Third Century, Saint Cyprian wrote: Peter holds primacy so as to show that Christ’s Church is one, that his Chair is one. He goes on to emphasize the matter of unity with these words: God is one. The Lord is one. The Church is one. The Chair founded by Christ is one (St Cyprian, Epistle 43, 5).

For many years, the people of Rome had on display a wooden chair which Saint Peter reputedly sat upon. Saint Damasus moved this relic to the baptistery of the newly built Vatican in the fourth century. The chair was seen and honoured by thousands of pilgrims from all over Christendom. At the time when the present Basilica of Saint Peter was erected, it was thought advisable to preserve the chair in bronze and gold.

Before the fourth century, in the earliest liturgical calendars of the Church one finds this feast, Natale Petri de Cathedra, the celebration of the institution of the papacy. This feast highlights the fact that the Bishop of Rome has jurisdiction throughout the entire world. It has been a long-standing custom to commemorate the consecration of bishops in their respective dioceses. Yet these commemorations pertained solely to the limits of each diocese. The Chair of Peter, however, is unique in that it extends to all Christianity and has done so from the first centuries. As Saint Augustine has pointed out in a sermon for this feast: “Our forefathers gave the name ‘Chair’ to this feast so that we might remember that the Prince of the Apostles was entrusted with the ‘Chair’ of the episcopate (St Augustine, Sermon 15 on the Saints).”  

We should be sure to review the quality of our love and obedience to the Pope.

 

 

Choose Your Words Wisely

Once upon a time, an old man spread rumours that his neighbour was a thief. As a result, the young man was arrested. Days later the young man was proven innocent. After being released, the man felt humiliated as he walked to his home. He sued the old man for wrongly accusing him.

In court, the old man told the Judge, “They were just comments, didn’t harm anyone....” The judge, before passing sentence on the case, told the old man, “Write all the things you said about him on a piece of paper. Cut them up and on the way home, throw the pieces of paper out. Tomorrow, come back to hear the sentence”.

The next day, the judge told the old man, “Before receiving the sentence, you will have to go out and gather all the pieces of paper that you threw out yesterday”. The old man said, “I can’t do that! The wind must have spread them and I won’t know where to find them”.

The judge then replied, “The same way, simple comments may destroy the honour of a man to such an extent that one is not able to fix it. The old man realized his mistake and asked for forgiveness”.

Moral: Do not malignant or blame anyone without knowing the fact or a truth. Your words may ruin someone’s reputation without any fault of theirs.

 

 

Count Your Blessings

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes. 

Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean. 

Count your health instead of your wealth;
Love your neighbour as much as yourself
.

Author Unknown

 

 

Do You Pray Every Day?

“We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self.” (2 Timothy 2:13).

Two little girls were playing dress up in their Gramma’s attic. They were playing pretend church. The younger girl asked the other, “Jane, do you pray every day?” The knowledgeable older child answered, “No, of course not. Some days I don’t need anything.”

We laugh because we realize that prayer is much more than asking for our needs. But how often do we go a whole day or at least part of a day without even greeting or acknowledging our Master.

This negligence hit home to me when we were in Nigeria years ago. We had two wonderful weeks of ministry. We would pray many times a day because there were so many obstacles and God answered our prayers over and over again. We experienced so many miracles.

Then it was time to go home. Early in the morning we headed for the airport. After the usual waiting period and checking and rechecking of our documents, we finally boarded and had an uneventful trip to Lagos. We would be spending the day there before flying home.

It was almost noon when we checked into the hotel at Lagos and as I was standing in the hotel lobby waiting for my husband when I realized with consternation that I had not even greeted my Lord yet. Silently I talked to Him, apologized for my neglect. Thankful that even though I had ignored Him, He was still with me and was waiting for me.

Later, I wondered how long we would tag along with a friend or relative if that person would not even acknowledge our presence or talk to us?

How often do you talk to God?

Lord Jesus, I am so thankful that You are always faithful to us, that You are never rude, You never ignore us or neglect us. I pray that Your Spirit would develop a longing within us for Your companionship so that we would communicate with You moment by moment and that we would treat You like we want to be treated. Amen.

     Katherine Kehler

 

 

World Day of the Sick

Pope John Paul II initiated the day in 1992 to encourage people to pray for those who suffer from illness and for their caregivers. The Pope himself had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year before, in 1991, and it is considered that his own illness was impetus for his designation of the day.

World Day of the Sick was first observed on February 11, 1993. February 11 is also the Catholic Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which a name is given to the Virgin Mary in honour of the apparitions that were said to have been seen in and around Lourdes, France, by a young girl called Bernadette Soubirous. The Church canonized Bernadette as a saint several years later.

On this day people around the world are asked to take the time to pray for the sick and for those who work very hard to alleviate their sufferings.

                        Spiritual Nourishment

 

Mon/Tues – 24 hour Adoration on the Blessed Sacrament, St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre.

Every Tuesday – Prayer Group St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre 10.30am.

Every Wednesday – 12 hours Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 10.00am – 10.00pm St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre.

Rosary – The Rosary is recited before the 10.15am Mass on Sundays at St. Mary’s Pastoral centre. Rosary begins at 9.50am

 

 

 

“The remarkable thing about the way in which people talk about God, or about their relation to God, is that it seems to escape them completely that God hears what they are saying.”

Soren Kierkegaard

Danish Philosopher and theologian