Your conscience is telling you something!

Conscience is an internal voice of justice. Somehow, it identifies right and wrong and begins to work on you from within: “Speak up for that person!,” “Apologize!,” “You’re being a jerk!,” “You should’ve helped that person!”

What happens with those impulses? Do they just go away after a day? Do they get replaced by new ones? Or do they keep playing on repeat in your head until you act on them? Where do you think your conscience comes from and how does it work?

Church people have structured things around clearing your conscience. The Catholics call it a sacrament:

“The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s Grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.” For those who receive the sacraments of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.” (cited by Paul Huston)

Wouldn’t that be nice! So many of us have a conscience-induced regret, and it has wreaked havoc on our inner sense of serenity. When you didn’t speak up for someone, and they were gravely impacted as a result, you can’t ever go back and balance the scales. So do you live the rest of your life feeling terrible about yourself?

Perhaps that’s what you expect religious people to affirm, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The Christian’s framework of “grace for sinners” has the built-in assumption that your conscience will convict you of many things which you are unable to rectify.

“Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall!”

God mysteriously handles the balancing of the scales. You and I can come as we are and receive “peace and serenity of conscience.”

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