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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

FAITH AND CONSCIENCE

What distinguishes us human beings in all of creation is our God given
power to say yes or no to God. That is our free will and that is what
it means to be made in the image of God. The Almighty One determined
that you and I would have to DECIDE to love God and not be forced by
fear or might to accept that He even exists let alone follow any of
His laws. This accounts to why there is so much good in the world and
why there is also so much evil. We can't blame the devil, only
ourselves and the decisions we make.

What guides us in making decisions is our conscience. Except for very
rare exclusions our conscience is a sacred tool of our free will. It
begins its development and formation in family life. Then society and
culture begin to shape it. Religion for those who accept it can
sharpen this tool. Thus, faith can play a very important role in
conscience and therefore the decision to do good or to act badly.

So sacred is our free will that God restrains his own power when we
chose to act outside his own will and desire. For Christians, the
ultimate price of this restraint is the cross, nailed and powerless.
God's redemptive love for us is concluded in his decision to love the
sinner. This is revealed with the resurrection, ascension and descent
of the Holy Spirit.

So innate is this power we are given in free will that good people
universally seek freedom. The drive to be free and therefore free to
make our own decisions is what we most celebrate as Americans. Any
attempt to force by power or fear our ability to choose is contrary to
God and can be evil.

Institutions, cultures, religions, governments, and even family try to
shape conscience. We learn to act not only for our own self-interest
but often for others.

Therefore, no pope, bishop, priest, pastor, preacher, teacher,
legislator, politician, or spiritual being can force us against our
will to do good or bad unless we choose to give them that power.
Others may ultimately judge our decisions and we will pay the
consequences but guarding the right to make that choice is ours. We
may question our ability to choose wisely and others may claim our
conscience is flawed. However, we can't blame others for our
decisions nor can we escape their consequences.

Good citizens among us have made choices this past week by exercising
their duty to vote. The majority have made such choices that will
shape the future ahead. We must now respect the decisions made as a
nation. No one who has not participated in casting their vote may
justly complain about the results. But surely a large portion of us
are sorely disappointed and a majority are celebrating. We can all
rejoice in living in a time and place where our choice is counted and
shapes our future.

Now is a time when we can choose to heal the wounds this difficult
election has created in our families, work, community, churches,
places of worship, social clubs, neighborhoods etc. Our sphere of
influence and activity may be small but it is significant how each of
us chooses to deal with one another as we move forward. Whether we
gloat or whether we despair, we can choose to be generous in spirit to
those whose candidate(s) have lost, and choose that despite loss one
can rally hope and energy to re-engage and struggle for what we
believe in.

As sacred as we hold our own conscience and free will we must hold as
sacred our fellow citizen who is opposite me. The choice is ours to
build a community, society, culture and nation that can find the way
value our differences and from many, be one.

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