The confusing thing about today's day and age is that our consciences are guided by those whose consciences have been formed by society. And ask anyone what their opinion is of "society" these days and you're sure to get a pretty eye-roll-y answer.
So how can we be sure that our consciences aren't being grown the wrong way?
There are truths we just know: killing is wrong, stealing is wrong, animal abuse is wrong, etc.
And there are issues that aren't quite so black and white: like killing in self-defense, stealing to feed your family, hurting an animal that's attacking someone... who are we to decide the rightness and wrongness of some things?
A while ago, I was watching Daredevil on Netflix, which is a hilarious show from a Catholic perspective because they get a lot wrong. And isn't that just one of those things we as humans love? To find mistakes so that we can gloat about how we found them?
But, at one point, the priest is having a conversation with the main character, and the main character admits that he feels guilty about something. And the priest says something to the effect of, "Guilt can be a good thing."
And I was like "YESSSS!!!"
Let's be real: that's not a message that we get very often these days. These days, guilt is seen as the ultimate evil. Any time anyone is made to feel guilty, you can find any number of people who will jump to their defense and tell them not to feel guilty. And, of course, there are definitely things that people should never be made to feel guilty about - like the color or one's skin. But a lot of times, we forget that guilt is a mechanism that can highlight an improvement we can make in our lives.
Let your conscience be your guide. Listen to Jiminy. And if he's being super confusing, don't worry: there are those of us who have gone through all this before. And we'd love to help translate his annoying chirping, if it helps.
"...let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water."
Much love, and welcome to a glorious New Year!
CYM, St. John the Evangelist