Freedom of Conscience and Law

Let me take a stab at this topic.  It would seem so many have a really hard time understanding the Church’s teaching on conscience and law.

We must obey our consciences.  We must.  We must also properly form our consciences through a spirited attempt to learn our faith and faith’s implications in daily life, i.e., moral theology.  If we fail through laziness, apathy, or neglect to learn of our faith and its prescriptions for life, we are culpably ignorant and our consciences are ill-formed. If we sincerely seek the truth as best we can, and learn of the truth as best we can, then even if we make mistakes in judgment as to the rightness or wrongness of an action, we are not culpable.

So many of us seem to believe that the natural law and divine law are restrictive, limiting our freedom an human dignity. In fact, it is only when our inner self, our conscience, aligns itself with the truth, who is God, do we really find freedom. And the truth that sets us free is God himself who is reflected in our very nature (natural law), which in turn is illuminated amply by the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Spirit (divine law).  

Anyone who has been freed from an addiction can appreciate what I mean here regarding freedom and the law.  If our choices to do or not to do whatever in life are not directed to and in line with the True and Good to which we are called, our choices will be toward other things that enslave us. An addict who is in recovery often attributes his or her recovery to an admission of the need for God, and he or she will direct daily choices toward the greater good which sets them free from their addiction.  Their freedom comes not from a self-directed willfulness to define for themselves what is right or wrong; rather, freedom comes from the recognition of the truth of their lives and re-directing their lives one day at a time toward the One who has saved them from their addiction.  Freedom comes from obedience to the “new law”, and daily searching to learn and conform their lives to that new way of living.

Natural law and divine law amplify and magnify our human dignity, and the fully frees of our consciences to choose what is good.

We then create a fitting dwelling place for our God deep within us.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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