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The Conscience and its Dictates

  • Category(s): Religion Essays
  • Created on : 15 October 2013
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  • Author: Richard Michael Lamb


The driving force of a Roman Catholic conscience as perceived in the 21st century.


The definition of conscience in the modern Christian world was not just re-affirmed by Newman but launched within Christian thinking in his books, poems and sermons for many of his readers.

He produced at the end of his writing career ”The Grammar of Assent” in which he wrote of the illative sense as the key to faith in God. He was interested in the sense of “illative” which concentrates on this word meaning inference or expressing an inference. Thus Newman was aiming in this work to ground his Catholicism on evidence, analysis and deduction or inference in that order and then action. He wished to establish this logical sequence so others might go down the same path. He was saying you only discover Christ in your world by this logical process applied to the circumstances of a believer’s life. There is no secret – the polemical case I allude to is a matter of proper thought based on sincerity driven and guided by the person’s conscience. The whole procedure will fail if the thought process is not honest. In other words the thinker must see both sides of the argument yet have the confidence to argue it through to a conclusion in his heart and mind and decisions. This not only relates to the mind but also the heart and soul. It is the heart and soul which shed the clear light to enable the mental inferences to be arrived at and policies activated.


Marriage and the decision to propose matrimony.
The decision to accept a proposal of marriage and persevere.
The decision to petition for divorce or nullity or start a marital parting of the ways.
The decisions to honour confidential information or release that secret advisedly.
The resolve to sell or buy property and see it through to completion or mortgage land.
The seizure of the opportunity to close any business enterprise or professional practice. Also to alter course professionally or start a new job.
The setting upon the notion to start any new enterprise and continuing it in hard times.
The restraint and control in the face of provocation, impetuosity and repression.
The constant examining of the individual’s conscience for signs of his fault and acting on the dictates of the insights of that conscience.
Moving from one religion to another and deciding that question. Resuming or intensifying religious practice.
Being open to suggestion yet firmly determined to follow the conscience’s dictates. Not being weakened by external pressures of any kind.
Being prepared to bide your time and listening to the prudent voice of conscience.
Discerning the personal message of Christ and applying it in his or her life.
Within family life to work with all close family members and support them.
In Court to resolutely represent your lay client or as Crown Counsel to act for the Crown even though the odds may be against you as an Advocate in a particular case.
The care of the sick and dying and bringing up children.
Deciding political allegiances.


This lies in the prompting of the Holy Spirit to think again and take another look at the landscape. Conscience is based on two limbs: Self-denial and profound determination to act rightly. If your conscience is properly developed and robust you will not be frightened of upsetting people. Sometimes that cannot be avoided however regrettable it may be. Self-denial springs from austerity and not worldly recognition. Thus no man should be unduly complacent but live on the edge – The “qui vive”. Each person differs and one person’s conscience must not be the arbiter for others. Even the Pope inspires us but does not take away our choices. We have to decide to follow his lead and that of his predecessors over the years if we are true Roman Catholics. We educate our conscience by attending Mass, daily prayer, receiving the Sacraments and listening and taking heed of all those around us - young or old. The conscience must be educated or wither on the vine, above all it must be informed. Finally it must lead to public action and interaction.


The grave danger is conscience will be used as an excuse to do nothing and then evil will prevail. Certainly there are times when caution should be observed mindful the time for action will come. Currently the politically elite of the Civil Service and parliamentary parties are “burying” this death sentence restoration issue under the guise it is a matter of conscience in parliament and there have been several free votes which were against restoration. This begs the question of a major Party putting restoration of Capital Punishment into its Manifesto with secession from the EU and repeal of the Human Rights Act. Once that Party goes to the country on those planks of policy and receives a mandate to implement those policies the way is open for death penalty restoration following EU secession and Human Rights repeal. The conscience of each MP is sacrosanct – they may decline to stand at this proposed General Election for the reason they do not support the manifesto of their Party on the death penalty issue. Political consciences must be developed by this political leadership I allude to regarding the death penalty. The conscience of a person is not a magic wand waved in the air. We seek a party of believing men and women marching to the same tune and lead by honourable men and women in politics. Conscience requires solidarity and obedience and we may be proud of that unity when achieved. The Capital Punishment agenda issue may be the saviour of Christian Britain and salvage our consciences. It all comes down to individuals but no man can change the world by himself you must have friends and allies.


I have been told I have a retrospective conscience – I say no more the case. I have a realistic prospective candidature as a respected essayist and advocate in these writings of mine. I look forward not back in the confidence of a well held position based on a properly worked out conscience. I drink to Roman Catholicism in action.