As Catholics are choosing spiritual exercises for Lent, the archbishop of Philadelphia is suggesting they start with reforming their consciences according to Church teaching.
In his column on February 13, Abp. Charles Chaput, who withholds Holy Communion from couples living in adultery, warns Catholics that lax consciences are of little value in spiritually directing a person. He wrote:
For every forbidden, hurtful, dishonest thing we like to do, we're experts at self-deceit, at training our consciences to perform like pets ... well-manicured poodles that offer us alibis on demand like:
- "I didn't have a choice"
- "Hey, there were extenuating circumstances"
- "The Church is out of touch"
- "There's a new paradigm for thinking about this particular unpleasantness"
- "I know it's not ideal, but this is the best I could do"
- "There's been a revolution in Church thinking on all sorts of complex issues — like mine"
- "OK this is wrong, but it's not that bad."
In an age of spiritual permissiveness when many prelates are telling Catholics to follow their poorly formed consciences, Abp. Chaput is urging Catholics to make good use of Lent by reshaping, where necessary, their erroneously formed consciences:
February 14 this year is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. It's the day on which a loving God invites all of us to smash our miserable little concordats with sin and its alibis to bits. The teaching of the Church – rooted in the Word of God, confirmed by experience, consistent in its expression, sometimes difficult but always liberating – is the standard of holiness and the guide to our Father's expectations.
Watch the panel discuss Lent as a time of spiritual housecleaning in The Download—Memento Mori.