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 Post subject: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:38 am 
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Is there a reason why the CCC do not gave a very consice/concrete definition of what conscience is? To me, the definition in the CCC only uses a poetic language but never explain very well to me what it is all about in a plain and simple language. It never ever say how it works. All it say is that it is a law but never tell us how it works. It is super poetic but very non-practical. What can you say about this?

"Conscience is a judgment of reason..."(1778)
"It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience"(1779)

I just don't understand how it works or what it really is even if I read this. I need a more concrete explanation I guess. It just say it is something to do with reason but a Priest once told me conscience is actually "pre-thoughts". I did an intermet seqrch but found no helpful explanation. All it say is: the law is written on our hearts. Never how it works or what it is.
Please explain. I am willing to learn.


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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:39 am 
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The conscience is a very useful part of your moral decision-making that makes automatic judgments of situations in order to prevent you from doing something you "believe" to be wrong without having to take the time to discern every single decision.

Note that I said "believe" because we are in charge of programming (forming) it. The basic precepts of morality are already programmed in. That's why even children know that hurting people is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc. But, as we mature and encounter more complicated moral dilemmas it is up to us to study and pray in order to make sure that our conscience has the right information to do it's job properly.

Basically, it uses a simple deductive reasoning. You have a bunch of things you believe are right and wrong. You encounter a clear situation where you are either tempted to do something, or maybe aren't sure if it is right or wrong. Your conscience, running in the background of your intellect, looks at what you believe, looks at the situation and then informs your will that this action either is OK to do according to what you believe, isn't OK to do, or may not be OK to do. The more serious the offense, the more the conscience creates that feeling of guilt... especially if we start trying to rationalize.

The conscience makes sure that your first principles of morality are kept primary in moral decision-making. When we encounter difficult moments of temptation we immediately start rationalizing in order to justify doing evil. We do this by considering things in the situation that can allow us to see this evil act as a good one. Our conscience cuts through rationalization and presents us with our basic principles of right and wrong and reminds us that this stuff doesn't change this evil act into a good act.

"I'm desperate for money. Someone left their wallet on the table. No one would know if I took it. That guy has plenty of money and I am in a desperate situation. I won't get caught. It's just a little bit of money that he probably won't miss anyway. Heck, he would give it to me if I asked because he is a nice guy, and I am just saving him the awkward moment of having me ask by just taking it. etc etc etc... " That is us rationalizing.

The conscience chimes in with a simple deductive judgment: "You believe stealing is wrong. Taking this wallet would be stealing. Therefore, taking this wallet is wrong. Full stop. Don't do it."

That's how a well-formed conscience works. If you ignore your conscience you can break it down. A good, strong, well-formed conscience can continue to work after you take the wallet and eventually get you to repent and return it because it will continue to present to your intellect that you did something that violates your beliefs. But, you can wear it down. You can keep taking wallets. Eventually, you can train your conscience to remove "I believe stealing is wrong" from your list of principles because obviously you don't have a problem with it. You can become someone who doesn't have ANY feelings of guilt or remorse when stealing. Thus, altering the programming (or formation) of the conscience. So, your conscience will no longer work properly in situations where you are able to take things that aren't yours.

As long as you are trying to form your conscience well by adopting beliefs that are true about right and wrong, then yes, you MUST follow your conscience because not doing so is the very definition of sin.... Doing something you believe to be wrong.

There is a lot more to say about things like when the situation is so complicated that your conscience either doesn't know how to judge it, or gives you a "Maybe this is wrong, but I'm not sure." An over-active conscience. A misformed conscience. etc... But, I think I have already been too long winded. Let me know if you want to discuss it further.

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:21 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:38 am 
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forumjunkie, why didn't the CCC tell me all what you have just said? Is there are good reason why the CCC is more poetic than practical?
Am I probably missunderstandibg why we hace Catwchisms?
Even the Catechism of the Council of Trent cannot talk aboyt conscience.


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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:50 am 
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Catechisms present the fundamentals of the Faith, and they don't require philosophical training from their readers. I'm not sure they're poetic rather than practical. I think it's more that they're concise, basic and as simple as reasonably possible. That may leave the highly analytical reader unsatisfied, but there are other places for such readers to look. Like here, for starters. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:22 pm 
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gherkin wrote:
Catechisms present the fundamentals of the Faith, and they don't require philosophical training from their readers. I'm not sure they're poetic rather than practical. I think it's more that they're concise, basic and as simple as reasonably possible. That may leave the highly analytical reader unsatisfied, but there are other places for such readers to look. Like here, for starters. :D

Concise? I would say that it is not concise.
I find Bishop Robert Barron way more clear in his exolanations than the CCC.
Where in th CCC is conscience ever explained?
It seems to say that it is simply a mysrerious thing and leave it at that. Kinda impractical for me. I cannot stand the whole idea of "conscience is simoly a mysterious thing".
It seems like the Church don't want to explain it.
Why is this?


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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:31 pm 
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The CCC's definition is clear and precise:

    Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed.

It is a judgment, meaning placing something (in this case, a concrete act) into its proper category (in this case, right or wrong).

It is a judgment of reason, meaning that it is not an emotional decision nor a feeling about a certain act. It is a rational application of moral principles to a concrete act.

It is a recognition because the moral quality is inherent in the things that make up a concrete act; it is something real and already existing.

It concerns moral qualities, that is to say, right, wrong, optional, mandatory, forbidden.

It covers the past (should I have done that?), present (should I do this?), future (I'm thinking about doing this in the future).

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:00 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
The CCC's definition is clear and precise:

    Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed.

It is a judgment, meaning placing something (in this case, a concrete act) into its proper category (in this case, right or wrong).

It is a judgment of reason, meaning that it is not an emotional decision nor a feeling about a certain act. It is a rational application of moral principles to a concrete act.

It is a recognition because the moral quality is inherent in the things that make up a concrete act; it is something real and already existing.

It concerns moral qualities, that is to say, right, wrong, optional, mandatory, forbidden.

It covers the past (should I have done that?), present (should I do this?), future (I'm thinking about doing this in the future).

this is the problem: I need the statements of the catechism explained. this is why I find it too difficult to understand.
It didn't even say what "reason" is. it just assumed we all have studied philosophy and understand this term.
what does the term refer to? What is a simple definition of reason?
Is reason the same as thoughts or is is something else? I could not find a simple explanation in the CCC or anywhere online.
they just assume we all understand this. I do not understand the things that the philosophers already know.
I heard that conscience could be "pre-thoughts" instead of our anxious thougt that goes in our minds all day long.


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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:07 pm 
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Anxious thoughts aren't conscience at all.

Reason is logical thinking.

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:26 pm 
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ingenting wrote:
forumjunkie, why didn't the CCC tell me all what you have just said? Is there are good reason why the CCC is more poetic than practical?
Am I probably missunderstandibg why we hace Catwchisms?
Even the Catechism of the Council of Trent cannot talk aboyt conscience.

I think forumjunkieā€™s answer is excellent. The CCC could not have told you what forumjunkie just said, because the CCC is simply not written in that style. Forumjunkie was replying to you personally.


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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 11:43 pm 
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ingenting wrote:
this is the problem: I need the statements of the catechism explained. this is why I find it too difficult to understand.
It didn't even say what "reason" is. it just assumed we all have studied philosophy and understand this term.
what does the term refer to? What is a simple definition of reason?
Is reason the same as thoughts or is is something else? I could not find a simple explanation in the CCC or anywhere online.
they just assume we all understand this. I do not understand the things that the philosophers already know.
I heard that conscience could be "pre-thoughts" instead of our anxious thougt that goes in our minds all day long.



If I'm wrong someone can correct me, but the purpose of the CCC is more as just something like a compendium for catechetical instruction rather than an exhaustive exposition on Church teaching, meaning that it's written in a high context and assumes that the person using it is already well versed in Catholic philosophy and theology, hence all of the hundreds of footnotes pointing to all the relevant documents, letters, homilies, etc of the Church.

As for conscience, this is something that you might find interesting.

https://youtu.be/8KcHk_9iues

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 12:16 am 
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ingenting wrote:
forumjunkie, why didn't the CCC tell me all what you have just said? Is there are good reason why the CCC is more poetic than practical?
Am I probably missunderstandibg why we hace Catwchisms?
Even the Catechism of the Council of Trent cannot talk aboyt conscience.



Because the catechism is not designed to be a completely comprehensive document that covers every conceivable issue it is designed only to be a modest introduction for beginners who would then be expected to move on to more advanced text if they wanted to learn more.

Your question is thus a little like asking why a textbook in high school algebra doesn't talk about how to solvepartial differential equations.

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:16 pm 
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One thing to remember is the CCC is supposed to be a model for other Catechisms. It isn't meant for CCD.

Likewise, in the US we had the Baltimore Catechism (many versions, some problematic some great), based on Bellarmine's Catechism, and indirectly on the Roman Catechism. Whereas Catechisms for children were almost always in question and answer format, the Roman Catechism was, like the CCC, not. It was explicitly for preachers and for catechists to draw from.

Now the Roman Catechism was written with greater clarity, methinks. And in better style (even including explicit notes about what elements all the faithful should be taught). But that is for two reasons. It was written by a single author. The CCC is by committee and hence lacks the flow and unicity. And secondly, the CCC was deliberately written in discrete chunks (paragraphs) that can be read by themselves. Some chunks, like the definition of conscience, are unambiguous, precise, etc (even if not engaging, and without the exposition a teacher or preacher should give it). Others are enigmatic. One of the more innocent reasons is that even essential areas of the faith have unsettled details. The Roman Catechism tended to simply present the dominant view at the time (or at least Borromeo's view!), which made it straightforward but potentially misleading (great example is Holy Orders). The CCC at times sacrifices clarity so as not to exclude legitimate diversity... But the result often would fail to exclude illegitimate diversity too! One could simply present that there are different views, but that gets messy fast, and overcomplicates a Catechism

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:23 pm 
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I am not sure what the priest meant by "pre-thoughts." He may well have been right, but it's not a term in common usage and I don't know how to evaluate it.

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 9:26 am 
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Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Likewise, in the US we had the Baltimore Catechism (many versions, some problematic some great), based on Bellarmine's Catechism

Actually it was based directly on St. John Neumann's long and short catechisms! The short one is still in print.

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 1:12 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I am not sure what the priest meant by "pre-thoughts." He may well have been right, but it's not a term in common usage and I don't know how to evaluate it.


I assumed he was using "thought" as in conscious thought. But, there is "thought" that happens unconsciously. That is the conscience, but it is still me "thinking."

I guess we could make an analogy with breathing or blinking. I can do it consciously (take a deep breath, or blink 5 times), but I also do it without consciously willing it. It happens when it needs to happen automatically. But, it is still me breathing or blinking.

Conscience is sort of like that. I program it ahead of time, and then it runs in the background. It's still me. And it is still based on my formation of it. But, it makes intellectual judgments and informs my will. I can override it with conscious rationalization. But, it still tries to do its job.

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 1:17 pm 
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Conscience can be conscious, aware thought, particularly in difficult or new situations.

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 Post subject: Re: Need your expert wisdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 1:20 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Conscience can be conscious, aware thought, particularly in difficult or new situations.


Right... But, I assumed he meant it in its popular sense of something that is always working in the background. I agree with you that I have never heard it called "pre-thought."

FJ

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