Days to clear your conscience
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
There is some funny saying: if you do not want to have a fever, break your thermometer. It is some sarcasm but it reflects some social situations. You can also apply this example to the question of conscience. Saying to yourself, ‘I have no sins; I do not need confession; I am clean’ will not make you free from sins. Although at some moment conscience can be like this broken thermometer: distorted, indifferent or wrongly formed; evil remains evil and dirt remains dirt, a lie remains a lie. We become like a sack to which we can throw the litter of evil. Our eyes cannot see the evil any more and we do not really feel the burden of sins, either. For example, people often speak in public, instructing others but their behaviour leaves a lot to be desired: they overuse many things, they live in lies and they cheat. However, they themselves think that they are clean. The society, which follows a slightly different, collective conscience, should evaluate this properly. Clear conscience is when in his inner being man reacts to evil whose author he is, and he is in a quandary, experiencing inner sadness, anxiety; he feels that there is something wrong with him. A husband feels remorse that he has told lies to his wife; a teacher has remorse that he has harmed some pupil. Someone has not fulfilled his duties concerning his family or workplace. He has scruples that he was wrong and careless. Our conscience should react everywhere, in every field. One can ask about the conscience of the MPs, the high ranking state officials. Shouldn’t layers, trying to solve complicated human matters, examine their consciences? Continuing this thought – shouldn’t doctors and nurses looking for higher salaries do that? Examine how they fulfil their duties, how they care for patients... The whole world depends on conscience. Parish priests, their assistants and catechists should not forget about their consciences so that they can lead people to God with sincerity and love, so that they can care for healthy spiritual nourishment. One should serve ‘con amore’ and not casually, only to get rid of people. Hence there is a big world of conscience that is based on morality, on Christian ethics. If conscience is damaged like the thermometer people think that everything is all right; they are satisfied with their behaviour; they are happy although some may cry because of them. A careless driver can cause misfortune or death of another human being. The driver goes with light conscience but actually it is heavily burdened... The Holy Father John Paul II said that Poland needed people of conscience. Europe and the world wait for such people. Conscience is the inner, God’s reflection of reality in which we live. It shows what things really look like. Additionally, a well formed conscience has other dimensions of behaviour: intentions, ideas people follow, their preparation to function in real life. Conscience is an extremely interesting and strong reflector, throwing light at people’s lives. That’s why we must examine it, inspect it, check it. As parents, teachers, priests, Catholic media we are obliged to form conscience. Since manipulation of various events cause distortion of conscience. We must remember that one day our behaviour, which our conscience directs, will be judged by Lord God. People used to say, ‘Fear God!’ It meant a reference to good conscience. We must do everything to remind people of the 21st century of that. Lent, together with retreats, and confession are needed so that we can listen to the clear voice of our conscience, not to deaden it but make it clearer, more sensible to God and neighbour. Let us then treat the period of preparation to Easter as days to clear our conscience.