A Still, Small Voice

A Still, Small Voice“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

We often read of that still, small voice that is in each of us. It is a voice guiding our path, discerning right from wrong, helping us make decisions that will forever be part of our lives.

It is our moral conscience, formed over time, based on the natural law, honed by our experiences, readings and upbringing, calling us to love and to do good and avoid evil.

That still, small voice enables us to take responsibility for our actions and decisions. Our conscience is the best judge and jury of how we are leading our lives.

When we make a good decision, the inner good feeling we get causes us to want to do good again. It leaves an indelible mark on our conscience.

When we make a bad choice, the guilt felt leads us to a conversion.  A conscience willingness to change, will give us hope and mercy and the will to make the right decisions in the future. That is what we call forming a good conscience.

When we reflect on our lives, we can recall times when we have slipped up and have gone against that still, small voice. Even though our conscience knew what was right, we decided to ignore it and made a bad choice.

And, each of us can recall times when we listened to our conscience, made the right moral choice, and immediately knew that God was guiding our path.

“Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.” CCC 1799

In jail ministry, I have met many good people who have made poor choices. They choose drugs, alcohol, sex, greed; a result of their lack of a well formed conscience.

In our talks, we try to instill the desire to make better decisions and to have some successes that they can build on to a better formed moral compass.

Having trouble making the right moral decisions? Does your conscience bother you with the actions you take that go against that still, small voice in your heart?

Do you take that one more hit of heroin, one more shot of alcohol or smoke one more joint, even your conscience is telling you to stop?

Do you quietly and secretly seek out pornography on the internet, while your spouse and children are in the next room, with that still, small voice begging you to stop and asking you why?

Are you still hiding that wedding ring when you travel for business, hoping to meet someone for casual sex, when your conscience is telling you what a beautiful family you have at home waiting for your return?

Are you trying to diet but still sneaking that afternoon candy bar and hoping it doesn’t matter, when that still, small voice is telling you that you are sabotaging your health and your diets success?

“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” –1 Kings 19:12 KJV

What can we do to help form a better conscience? What can we do to be better attentive to that still, small voice that moves toward good and rejects evil?

 The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us some good guidelines:

  1. Realize that the formation of conscience is a lifelong task. We are constantly taught through practicing the virtues. We can cure our fears, selfishness and pride. And, as a result we get peace of heart.
  2. In the formation of conscience the Word of God is a light for our path. As we study the bible, listen to homilies at mass, get good advice from our parents, the advice and guidance of people we admire and daily prayer, we form a stronger conscience and the ability to call on it when faced with a tough moral decision.
  3. Our conscience must be informed and judgement enlightened. If we don’t have well-formed consciences then we are vulnerable to the negative influences of others. We’ve got to work at it!
  4. We must follow a couple of rules:
    1. Never do evil that good may result from it.
    2. Follow the Golden Rule of do unto others, what you wish others to do to you.
    3. Do nothing to make your brother stumble.

A clear well-formed conscience is liberating. It brings us closer to our Lord. It gives us a healthy and happier life. It gives us a pure heart and a sincere faith.

In the quiet of your heart, listen; what is that still, small voice telling you?

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