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In this Sunday's Second reading from the First Letter of St John, conscience is mentioned no less than three times. But what is conscience? A few quotes that might be helpful.

"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’ (CCC, 1776).


‘Conscience without God is a terrifying thing’

Fyodor Dostoevsky


‘Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ in the soul’

St John Henry Newman, Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, 1875

‘Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. . . . Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century, it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will’.

St John Henry Newman, Letter to the Duke of Norfolk 1875


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