Christus Vivit 281-282: Formation of Conscience

Remember to check this full document on this link at the Vatican site.

What does it mean to form one’s conscience? It’s a topic for a whole book, and it requires continuous effort. It is never done. But Pope Francis offers a start:

281. Here we see the importance of the formation of conscience, which allows discernment to grow in depth and in fidelity to God: “Forming our conscience is the work of a lifetime, in which we learn to cultivate the very sentiments of Jesus Christ, adopting the criteria behind his choices and the intentions behind his actions (cf. Phil 2:5)”.[FD 108]

Maybe the WWJD meme is overdone, but there’s everything right with the principle. The desire of the committed believer is to align thought, word, and deed with the thinking, preaching, and actions of Jesus.

A positive word for the Ignatian Examen, in case you don’t recognize it:

282. In this process of formation, we let ourselves be transformed by Christ, even as we develop “the habit of doing good, which also is a part of our examination of conscience. We do not simply identify sins, but also recognize God’s work in our daily lives, in the events of our personal history and the world around us, and in the witness of all those men and women who have gone before us or accompany us with their wisdom.

Note this shout-out for that most difficult of virtues:

This helps us to grow in the virtue of prudence and to give an overall direction to our life through concrete choices, in the serene awareness of both our gifts and our limitations”.[FD 108]

Prudence, not a cover for weakness, seeks to use the human intellect under the influence of grace to guide our words and actions in our lives. There are times when prudence might suggest boldness, concrete action, and moving quickly. Prudence also suggests a certain preparedness, as the synod’s final document cites. Preparing ourselves with this “awareness” of our strengths and weaknesses–this helps us avoid the extremes of foolhardiness and passivity. Any comments?

The text in color is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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