St. Basil, St. Augustine, and Cardinal Newman’s Toast to Conscience and the Pope

[Saint] Basil knows that love consists in keeping the commandments. for this reason, the spark of love, which has been put into us by the Creator, means this: “We have received interiorly beforehand the capacity and disposition for observing all divine commandments … These are not something imposed from without.” Referring everything back to its […]

On Guilt

[T]he feelings of guilt, the capacity to recognize guilt, belongs essentially to the spiritual make-up of man. […] It is as necessary for man as the physical pain that signifies disturbances of normal body functioning. Whoever is no longer capable of perceiving guilt is spiritually ill… —from On Conscience, a collection of two essays by Joseph […]

A man of conscience is…

I would say, when we are speaking of a man of conscience, we mean one who looks at things this way. A man of conscience is one who never acquires tolerance, well-being, success, public standing, and approval on the part of prevailing opinion at the expense of truth. + Thus, two standards become apparent for […]

The Capability of Man to Perceive the “Should”

When the only thing that determines what is morally right is one’s individual, subjective judgment, then there is no overarching moral truth to which all are bound. In such a situation, those who have the greatest power can impose their positions on other, unchecked by any authority apart from themselves. Indeed, such an understanding of […]

Community and Conscience

In the nearby village of Rebdorf, one is free to enter a field planted with strawberries and do one’s own picking. There is a little metal box at the edge of the field where one simply drops one’s coins for the berries picked—an unquestioned “honor system.” Religious practices and countless proverbs constantly reinforce this sense […]

What Religion and Lions Have in Common

“Herod feared John,” knowing that he was a “just and holy man.” The wicked fear the good, because the good are a constant reproach to their consciences. The ungodly like religion in the same way that they like lions, either dead or behind bars: they fear religion when it breaks loose and begins to challenge […]

Morality and the Piano of Life

The Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray has millions of lineal descendants in this generation who say, “I have no need of a code of a creed.” In this they are like the five-year-old child playing the piano who makes up the notes as he goes along; having no standard, he can never be […]