Contra AMORIS LÆTITIA on Conscience & Sin
Seeking What is True and Good (see Veritatis Splendor, 62-64)
Rejoice, a light has dawned for all nations, all peoples. We must follow Jesus by a radical conversion of life – by repenting of sin, by growth in virtue, and by growth in love through faith. Then we become Christ’s light for all to see
Rejoice, the Gospels have brought us the Good News about Jesus so that our lives may never more be lived in darkness, in doubt as to who we are, how much we are loved, and what our destiny is.
But also “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.” There are two kinds of darkness in our world (a) those who unknowingly live untruthful and immoral lives and (b) those who live in the darkness of refusal. Unlike the people in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali—who walked in darkness because the light had not yet come—we Christians can only live in darkness by our own refusal to walk in the light.
Forming our Conscience
A great way to live in the light is to have a conscience that is formed. One’s conscience has enormous dignity because it discerns God’s objective Truth. It can be erroneous however, because people can mistake their own subjective opinions as truth (a subjective error about a moral good). Possibly this is because of ignorance, or error of judgment that is not that person’s fault. Even so, that wrong choice of conscience doesn’t cease to be evil i.e., a disorder in relation to Gods objective Truth
The point isn’t that conscience can be wrong - it is that we can be in a position where we are in good standing with God (or not). We can get things badly wrong and remain in a state of grace. Also, we can get things badly wrong and be in a grave state of sin. What is the difference? How do we walk in the light? When do we err into darkness?
According to Saint JPII the difference is the concern we have for seeking what is true and good. If we have that concern, our conscience becomes better formed and our judgments better informed, by Truth. If we don’t care about seeking what is good and true our conscience becomes gradually almost blind from being accustomed to sin. This can lead us to choosing some things that are so evil, that our choosing them means what we want is fundamentally disordered, and nothing will mitigate from that (Catechism, 1761).
There you have it: darkness, or turning our gaze to lovingly to Christ who is our light. On this point, Saint JPII quotes “If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. If the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Mt 6:22-23. Then Saint JPII says that these words of Jesus represent a call to form our conscience, to make the object of continuous conversion to what is true and to what is good! yah!!!