My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"This being so, I myself always, STRIVE
TO HAVE A CONSCIENCE without offense
toward God and men" (Acts 24:16).
"O Master Christ, our God, King of the ages and Creator of all…
grant that, WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE and until final breath,
I may worthily partake of Your Holy Gifts for the remission of
sins and for life eternal…" ( Prayer of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion
by Saint Basil the Great)
As a Christian, I await the resurrection of the dead and labor and strive to attain a clear conscience from any guilt and remorse before God and people.
Keeping our conscience alive and well is a way of keeping communication open with the Lord. It is He Who speaks to us and uses our conscience to guide us. That "little voice," our conscience, sets off the alarm when we foolishly choose to commit a wrongful act – an act contrary to the commandments of our Savior Christ. It is the instrument within us that gives us the ability to sense what is right and what is wrong.
We believe that it is the soul that gives life to our body. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We also know that biological death is the separation of the immortal soul from the body. When our soul is spiritually healthy and in communion with God, our conscience is strong and so is the "little voice" within it. Our conscience plays an important role in our spiritual life. It is the first warning when we are tempted or attacked by the evil one. We must take that warning seriously and take the necessary measures to avoid compromising the integrity and sanctity of our soul and our relationship with our God.
When our conscience is vibrant and pure, we humbly turn to our Savior and say, "Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight…" (Psalm 50. God’s will is communicated to us daily only if our hearts are free and open. The purer the soul, the stronger and more sensitive will our conscience be.
Conscience does not interfere with our decisions but offers the opportunity to us to discern between good and evil before we make our final decision one way or the other. It is important to listen to our conscience and avoid making grave personal mistakes. The voice of conscience is always gentle and kind. It is placed in us for our protection and vigilance.
We would be making a foolish mistake, either to ignore or to stifle, the voice of our conscience. There is an expression in our Orthodox tradition about the "peporomeni syneidesis," or conscience, which has become hardened or petrified, in other words, a conscience that is dead. What can cause this dreadful condition? Faithlessness, an unrepentant soul, a rebellious, hardened and uncompassionate heart, a heart filled with hatred and anger, and a disobedient soul.
Have you noticed that the word conscience is not spoken anymore by anyone? Are we to assume that human conscience is no longer in existence? But who decided that? And Why? Now more than ever before, we need a powerful and dynamic conscience, since that of our secular society teaches that "it is neither right nor wrong" any longer, but "what makes you happy." In the absence of conscience, immorality and corruption are in abundance throughout our world. There is nothing or anyone to examine or to question our actions. Everything, even unethical and immoral actions now are condoned and approved by those in civil authority.
The Ten Commandments have been taken down and the Judeo-Christian values and principles have been erased. Character building is no longer permitted, counseling on moral precepts are forbidden to be taught in schools, God’s name is no longer allowed to be mentioned, prayer is condemned, the Holy Scripture is ridiculed, and people of faith are ridiculed and persecuted. The world has lost its conscience! And a world without a conscience is a dark world that is spiritually dead.
Saint Paisios in his work, ‘Spiritual Struggle,’ speaks on the importance of conscience in the life of the Christian. He writes, "The Good God provided Adam and Eve with a conscience, the first Divine Law. This conscience was ingrained deeply into their hearts, and ever since then, every human being RECEIVES IT AS AN INHERITANCE FROM HIS PARENTS. If anyone does not act properly, this conscience will not work from within to censure and guide him to repentance. One must carry out the appropriate spiritual work by reflecting carefully on his conscience in order to always be able to hear its voice. If one does not study and reflect carefully upon his conscience, he won’t be able to benefit from spiritual studies or from counsels of holy Elders. He won’t even be able to observe God’s Commandments…
"…In order for one to be certain that he’s acting in accordance with his conscience, he has to observe himself carefully and reveal his inner self to his Spiritual Father. One can betray his conscience and just assume that he’s on the right track. One may create A FAULTY CONSCIENCE, and, even though he may have committed a crime, may consider himself a benefactor. He may even make his conscience overly sensitive and harm himself."
According to Saint Paisios, "…there are no people who are born with A HARDENED CONSCIENCE. God has not created such a conscience. But when someone covers up his faults, his conscience will in time become RUSTYand HARDENED and unable to break through and censure him for these faults. In other words, such a person becomes autonomous, self-ruling, making his own laws. IT’S SELF-DECEPTION…
"…When someone lulls to sleep his self-accusing thoughts, he represses his conscience. When one lulls to sleep or refuses to acknowledge the self-accusations from his conscience for a long period of time, he creates his own a la carte conscience; That is, A FAULTY CONSCIENCE. Such a person has no inner peace because a faulty conscience cannot bring about inner peace…
"… In order to create a faulty conscience, the sensitivity he has MUST NOT BE A GOOD ONE. One faulty thought will lead to another. Some people may say, "I am rather sensitive," but will go and treat other people harshly and scold them without reason…
"… There is no greater good for man than to have his conscience at peace… The conscience, what an awesome gift! There is no greater fire, no greater hell than the burning of the conscience. There is no greater, more torturous remorse than the remorse of the conscience…
"…The martyrdom of the conscience is for everyone, it’s not only for Monks and Nuns. Monks and Nuns also have the sweet martyrdom of their ascetic discipline. In reality, however, there is no martyrdom of the conscience for those WHO STRUGGLE PROPERLY. For the more a person suffers spiritually, the more he suffers either for his many faults or because he participates in the Passion of the Lord, the more he is rewarded with Divine consolation. Even if one has sorrow, grief, and troubles, he, at the same time, senses Divine consolation when his conscience is clear and at peace."
Peace be to all!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George