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438

Part Three

1775

The perfection of the moral good consists in man’s

being moved to the good not only by his will but also

by his “heart.”

A

rticle

6

MORAL CONSCIENCE

1776

“Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which

he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice,

ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil,

sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart

a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core

and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes

in his depths.”

47

I.

T

he

J

udgment of

C

onscience

1777

Moral conscience,

48

present at the heart of the person,

enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid

evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good

and denouncing those that are evil.

49

It bears witness to the author-

ity of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human

person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he

listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.

1778

Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human

person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is

going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already

completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow

faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment

of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescrip-

tions of the divine law:

Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not

grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate,

nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat

and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who,

both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and

47

GS

16.

48 Cf.

Rom

2:14-16.

49 Cf.

Rom

1:32.

1954

1766

2071

1749