Chapter 23. Life in Christ—Part One • 315
tively but incorrect objectively) and acts on it. This person has a certain
but incorrect conscience. But because the conscience acted against what
it perceived to be objectively the good, the conscience chooses to sin.
There are some rules to follow in obeying one’s conscience. First,
always follow a certain conscience. Second, an incorrect conscience must
be changed if possible. Third, do not act with a doubtful conscience. We
must always obey the certain judgments of our conscience, realizing that
our conscience can be incorrect, that it can make a mistake about what
is truly the good or the right thing to do. This can be due to ignorance
in which, through no fault of our own, we did not have all we needed to
make a correct judgment.
However, we must also recognize that ignorance and errors are not
always free from guilt, for example, when we did not earnestly seek
what we needed in order to form our conscience correctly. Since we have
the obligation to obey our conscience, we also have the great responsi-
bility to see that it is formed in a way that reflects the true moral good.
Through loyalty to conscience Christians are joined to other
men in the search for truth and the right solution to many moral
problems which arise both in the life of individuals and from
social relationships. Hence, the more a correct conscience pre-
vails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind
choice and try to be guided by the objective standards of moral
conduct. (GS, no. 16)
The Excellence of Virtues
The Christian moral life is one that seeks to cultivate and practice virtue.
“A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows
the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself”
(CCC, no. 1803). An effective moral life demands the practice of both
human and theological virtues.
Human virtues form the soul with the habits of mind and will that
support moral behavior, control passions, and avoid sin. Virtues guide
our conduct according to the dictates of faith and reason, leading us
toward freedom based on self-control and toward joy in living a good