Someone loves you, with no strings attached, wanting only the best for you. Instinctively you want to respond back in the same way. LOVE BEGETS LOVE.

Jesus said, “You shall love your God with your whole heart, with your whole mind, your whole soul and with your whole strength.” When He said this He was quoting from Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. This thought was not something new. This feeling existed in man almost as a fundamental law of nature. God, the Creator, receives back from his creatures, the totality of their love. Everything that makes us what we are, Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, we use to love our God.

Jesus said, “…out of the goodness in our heart, we produce goodness; and an evil heart produces evil.” Modern day theologians coined the phrase “Fundamental Option”, a basic choice of a way of life. We gradually, over time, become consistent in our way of living. Our actions over time become us. Our love for our God flows from our fundamental option. Little acts of goodness and kindness gradually become our life style. Good begets more good. To do anything else gradually becomes almost unthinkable. This equates to what we call the State of Grace.

Our value structure grows out of our prior actions. Repetitive actions will either strengthen or weaken our value structure, depending on their nature. In today’s crime stories we hear of police speaking about a person’s rap sheet. He started by stealing a bike, then bullying, then he became a member in a gang, then robbery, armed robbery, homicide, etc. Little things became bigger and bigger. The life style became detoured in a downward spiral. His fundamental option was degrading rapidly. No thought of God, of love, of other was present. Self was all that mattered.

We speak of two types of sin: Mortal Sin and Venial Sin. Mortal sin, (deadly to the life of a Christian) consisted of very grievous matter, to which we gave our full consent, and worst of all we knew that it would separate us from our God. In spite of all of that, we gave our consent. Venial sin, though not as crippling as mortal, it was something that still should be avoided. Why? The concept of Fundamental Option explains the why. Have you ever heard the description of the “slippery slope”? The slope lets smaller sins gradually lead us in a downward direction away from God. The farther down we go, it soon becomes our choice, our way of life, our fundamental option. This choice then makes us more susceptible to committing graver sins. What are your venial sins, now? What were they a year ago? What will they be in a year?

We associate all matters of knowledge as being in the domain of the Mind, as opposed to feelings, being leanings of the heart. Conscience is our ability and obligation to seek truth and decide for the truth NOW, in light of what knowledge we have. It is a decision that is made here and now. How do we decide? We pray for enlightenment. We pray that we will see and understand the answer. BUT…we don’t use the Holy Spirit as a supernatural computer… press some keys, say some prayers and get an answer, as to what I should do. You are expected to use your minds. Seek out good advice. Discuss with those you trust what options are there for you. Talk with people in authority over such matters, or with people who have expertise in the matter. Talk with your parish priest, your teachers. Talk to those you trust and respect. The graver the decision the harder you pray and seek the correct answer.

Conscience is listed as being made up of 4 D’s
DIG for facts. (Relentlessly digging to uncover the truth.)
DELIBERATE these facts. (Weigh the merits of each, the flaws of each.)
DECIDE one way or the other, when all the facts are in that you can gather.
DO what you just decided on.

Decisions made by our conscience are always risky. This is because these decisions depend on the amount of certainty that we can acquire. Did we acquire certainty? Or, did we just prove enough for the decision that we wanted? Sometimes, however, in some matters, conscience is the only guidance that we have. However, you cannot throw out moral laws, just because they are difficult, just because you don’t agree with them. We cannot say “I will follow my conscience” while knowing that we say this only because we seek a different outcome.

In Civil law there are no exceptions. The law is the law, and your knowledge of the law is not a factor. It is your responsibility to know the law and how you should act under it. God’s law, however, is always directed towards the highest good. Keep holy the Sabbath, one of the Ten Commandments. Go to Mass on Sunday, Church Law. But… my neighbor needs nursing assistance this Sunday, which I have the ability to give, but I have to go to Mass. Take care of your neighbor, first. God’s law considers the circumstances. If we held strictly to the law of God above everything else, would we not also be like the Pharisees? Christ continually rebuked them because of their obsession with the law, while overlooking the needs of their neighbors?

With our whole person we are to love God, with our whole heart, with our whole mind, with our whole soul and with our whole strength, and, our neighbor, as ourself. Conversion is a life-long process. Throughout our life, we learn about ourselves, we learn our faults, we see others struggling just as we are. Slowly our lives change. We either try to make a difference, because of our love, or we ignore and look the other way. Our calling as Catholic Christians is to reflect God’s image and to be like His loving Son. Why?… We gave the answer at the beginning of this talk:

Someone loves you, with no strings attached, wanting only the best for you. Instinctively you want to respond back in the same way. LOVE BEGETS LOVE.

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