There is an ancient tradition that ‘conscience’ is that part of ourselves that God has last touched in our creation and formation. The simile that illustrates this very simply is of a person preparing dough for a loaf of bread. The dough is kneaded and formed, and when completed the baker withdraws his hand and the part of the dough last touched ‘follows’ the withdrawing hand – a little peak of bread pointing to its creator.
We are not yet what we shall become through the grace of God, we are ‘work in progress’. We are held in being by the recreative Love of God, His love is not withheld due to our waywardness and failings. God loves us as we are ‘warts and all’, He loves us ‘where we are’ but loves us too much to simply leave us there.
God beckons us through the medium of our conscience toward our beatification/sanctification, so that we may exhibit more clearly our family resemblance to Christ our brother and saviour.
Cardinal Newman, that great man of God, insisted that conscience is the very voice of God, that gives us a moral direction, it does not ‘create truth’, but rather helps us ‘detect’ the truth that already exists.
Our true selves are yet to be, to become all that Love would have us become. The most important and solemn task for any human being is to honestly listen to the voice of God through our God given conscience.
To a lesser or greater degree most of us listen to our consciences and sometimes adjust our behaviour according to what we have heard. Unfortunately, there are easier ‘voices’ to listen to. Self-justification, convenient myths and half-truths.
One of the most difficult things to bear in human experience is to hear someone fatuously justify the wrong they have done us, even suggesting that they are the wronged person, and that you are somehow at fault. When we come across such a situation, we realise how easy it can be to listen to the mutterings of voices quite other than that of conscience.
We are now in the Springtime of Lent, and this is the season where we should bless God for the gift of conscience – for it is the very voice of God speaking to and within ourselves.
We should also consider whether it would be a blessing for us to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Absolution, commonly called ‘going to confession’. To acknowledge before the presence of another person (the priest) the things that trouble us is a very real medicine of the soul. The dialogue between priest and penitent helps toward an ‘informed conscience’, and helps us to recognise not only our weaknesses, but also the intimate and deep Love of God for our immortal souls.
The priest says at the end of a confession “Go in peace, the Lord has put away thy sins, and pray for me, a sinner also”.