Forming Your Conscience

What is a well-formed conscience and how do you form your conscience?

“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.” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 16)

A well-formed conscience helps inform us how to follow God’s will and is formed by studying and praying over the Church’s teachings, and then incorporating them into one’s life. Well-formed consciences allow us to submit to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, whose authority was given to her by Christ Himself. Our consciences guide us to make moral and reasonable decisions that conform to God’s laws and bring about our ultimate good and happiness.

Developing a well-formed conscience is critical for the sacramental life. A well-formed conscience will help steer us away from sin or steer us to Confession when we realize we have sinned.

“In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.” (Catechism, no. 1785)

Take time to learn more about forming your conscience, which is vitally important for growing closer to God and living a happy, moral life.