What kind of conscience do you have?

What kind of conscience do you have

*[Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ

(https://aleteia.org/author/fr-robert-mcteigue-sj/) –*

Hint: When you use the word “conscience” and the phrase, “I just feel that …” you can be sure that you are doing it wrong.

Conscience, properly understood (and contrary to popular misconception), is a function of the intellect rather than emotion. (Helpful hint: When you use the word “conscience” and the phrase, “I just feel that …” you can be sure that you are doing it wrong.)

Conscience, as a judgment of the intellect, can fail either by using false premises or drawing illogical conclusions. In terms of judgment, therefore, a conscience can be correct (judging the truly good as good and the truly evil as evil) or erroneous (judging good as evil or evil as good).


Most Americans consciences have been formed by Hollywood and pop 40/rap songs.

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My conscience has been weathered by scrupulosity, so… I hope one day it will be remotely back to normal.

It drives me nuts when I see the conscience described as a wee little voice that tells you right from wrong :woman_facepalming:.


One thing my conscience is not, is a form of submission…

A conscience has to be formed correctly - which is done by learning what God has taught is morally right and morally wrong.
*Psalm 96:13
for He comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with *His truth.

“His truth”, not what we think should be truth. And it’s our responsibility to learn His truth. He has made it known to us thru Scripture and the teachings of His Church. Once we have learned and accepted those teachings as truth, we have “formed our conscience” and are equipped to make judgments as to whether or not a specific act is in conformity with it or not. If we see that it is not in accord but choose to do it anyway, we sin - and will be judged accordingly.

Perhaps an inner voice, calling you to do what is good and avoid evil? Which is exactly as defined by the Second Vatican Council.

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My conscience is damaged by my own scrupulosity and neurosis.

My beef with the Hollywood version of conscience is that it’s something that doesn’t need to be trained, but made up as one goes along.

I actually tried reading the 5 or 6 parts of Fr. McTeigue’s article.

It was not a helpful article and was basically about people who justify their sins by their “feels”. In other words, it “feels” right even though the Church says no.

It also took 6 overly complex columns to get to the point when he could have condensed what he actually had to say into 2 concise and well-written columns.

He also seems to presume that most Catholics are too stupid to have a developed conscience or to examine it correctly.

In the end, it didn’t tell me anything useful about my conscience or what type it might be.


Don’t you think that it’s entirely automatic? I’m not sure that you can direct your conscience.

No, you have to be taught right from wrong, and how to overcome your selfishness.

You have kiddos, right?
Did they just automatically share and take turns and not hit without you teaching them?
Mine certainly needed to be taught :rofl:


To ME conscience is everything about faith, if you do something contrary to what faith tells you, you have sinned, the more you violate what faith tells you, the more hardened your conscience will be!

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And revisiting the same problems with their kids these days. But a phrase I remember often using (and now reusing) is: ‘Don’t do that. You know it’s wrong’. And not because we’ve explained to them it’s wrong. But because there’s an inbuilt sense that some things are wrong.

Young children will show a tendency to help people if they see that they’re having a problem. It’s the other side of the same coin. I don’t believe that there’s a tabula rasa that we have to spend the first few years filling in - bad things in this column and good in this. Although I’ll grant that there are areas where actions are dtermined by social mores which do have to be explained.

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That may be a bit of an overgeneralization. Some young children may be very perceptive in that way, other young children may have absorbed the behavior from watching their parents or others (children’s TV characters, etc) kindly helping others. However, I’m sure there are some young children who, for whatever reason, are weak on this and may need to be taught or reminded that we help the other person rather than just concentrating on ourselves. And even if the kid is an ace helper, there’s likely to be some other area s/he needs some training to master. Might be a bad temper, might be a tendency to be bossy, might be not wanting to share with their brother. I know I myself was a pretty good kid but there were definitely areas where I was not great and my mother had to sit me down and teach me a little lesson here and there. It wasn’t inborn.

Oh, absolutely.
Little kids also have impulses towards empathy and kindness.
And it takes teaching and life experience to practice

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I don’t want to overgeneralise. There are simply too many counter examples. But I think that what we actually teach our children is: ‘Yes, I know you think you can buck the system. But there’s a price to pay which you are too young to appreciate right now’.

They will come to see that in their own time if we leave them to their own devices. But it’s a hard road so we try to make it a little easier. We don’t want to see them hurt. But the best lessons are the ones they’ll learn themselves. And we hope they turn into a Ralph as opposed to a Jack (pretentious Lord Of The Flies reference).

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