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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased" (Mk 1:11) Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

 

Divine Call

Following your heart

By Fr. Jacob Arimpur VC

We have heard many people advising us and sometimes we have also encouraged others to listen to one’s own heart and to follow it. But can we make a right decision just by following what the heart says? According to the Catholic Church our heart in itself cannot tell us what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, we have to be very careful when we listen to that inner voice. There are people who say, “If my conscience does not find a thing wrong then I go ahead”. This simply means that they have already assumed that the inner voice they hear cannot lead them in the wrong direction. Whereas what the Bible and the Catholic Church teaches is that only a well-formed conscience can lead us in the right path. A defective conscience leads us in the path of destruction. So we have a duty to form our conscience by educating and training it.

The abundance of the heart

Our Lord Jesus says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit…..The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (Lk 6:43-45). That means if the heart is corrupt and if it is not well-formed then following that inner voice is going to be immensely destructive. Our Lord alludes to the danger of the conscience being deformed when He warns: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt 6:22-23).

Let us understand that our Conscience does not always judge properly. Out of ignorance or bad reasoning, it can judge wrongly. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1791-2), there could be many reasons that contribute to the deforming of our conscience as listed hereinafter:

Damage caused by repeated and habitual sin

If one continues to live in sin for a long period of time it is natural that after sometime the person would find nothing wrong with the sin. The experience of a man who wrote a book in which he also explained the way he escaped from the Concentration Camp illustrates this reality. The Camp was a place erected by Hitler where Jewish people were tortured to death. This man who was running with his life could find nothing else but a humongous pile of dung in order to hide from the soldiers who were in search of him. He writes that he had to spend nearly eight hours in that dirt. For the first two hours it was like he wanted to shout and scream and thought of surrendering himself to those soldiers. If we place ourselves in the shoes of this person for a few moments we can understand how terrible it would have been. Somehow he hung on and he noted that slowly and gradually all that filth was becoming comfortable and at the end of eight hours he was very much at home with that uneasy situation. The dung did not change into sweet smelling substance but the man adjusted himself to that dirt. This is what happens when we continue to live in sin for a long time. Our conscience gets affected and we start finding comfort in that activity which is actually so wretched. For example when someone gossips over a period of time it is but natural that after a while the person won’t be able to differentiate between healthy talk and gossip. Sin remains sin but we become so accustomed to it that it becomes our new home.

Rejection of Christ

St Jerome says, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Majority of Christians do not know how the Bible operates. They read it as if they are reading a story book. Therefore, many are having distorted notions about Christ and His teachings. If we grow up with such twisted perceptions it is obvious that our Conscience is not going to be built up in the right way and so the inner voice we hear can be very misleading. Jesus gives us the parable of the builders (Lk 6:46-49) where He is indicating the importance of a stable foundation. In order to lay a solid foundation one has to go deeper by investing great time and energy. That means a superficial understanding of Christ and His teaching cannot guarantee us a well-formed Conscience. If we really want to go into the depth of the Scripture and know Christ then we cannot ignore the Church and its teachings because we read in the Bible that Church is the body of Christ (Col 1:24).

Following the bad example of others

Today instead of spending much time to know the Scripture and the teachings of the Church many are glued to TV shows, serials, novels or books, movies that often propagate elements that are contrary to Christ and His teachings. When one feeds on such anti-Christian diet it so happens that even without that person’s knowledge the Conscience is being built up in the wrong way. It’s like the foolish builder in the parable whose house is being built on sand. And so anyone who follows the inner voice that proceeds from such an ill-formed conscience will fall and great will be the fall.

So let us not blindly follow our inner voice. Only if our heart is according to the heart of Jesus we should obey our heart.

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