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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