San Damiano Cross

Caritas Newsletter

November 23, 1996
by Fr. Lucian Pulvermacher, OFM Cap.

on Conscience

When Our Lord commented on the cleverness of the unjust steward He said that the children of this world are more clever than the children of light. A layman, Edmund Burke, put it this way: "The way for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Let us reverse that statement. The way for evil to fail is for good people to do something. 


When I see people hide themselves behind the phrase: "My conscience is clear," and I see them violating the moral law, I regret that I do not have time to warn them of their plight, that is, possibly being on the way to hell. I have decided to give a treatment of this topic in this Caritas Newsletter. 

As a starter, I shall explain what conscience does. I shall draw from Father Michael Mueller�s book, God the Teacher of Mankind - Grace and the Sacraments, Imprimatur, and the book is dated 1890.  

  1. "It (our conscience) enlightens us. Conscience is our first rule, our first director and faithful guide, whom we must follow. In the business of salvation, there are straight and secure paths. But there are also crooked, winding, and deceitful ones, which may lead us astray. It belongs to an upright conscience to point out to us the secure paths of salvation, and to avoid the deceitful ones."
  2. "Conscience reproves us. No; conscience can never be an accomplice in our disorders; it disavows, it condemns them. From the moment in which we run astray, or even are on the point of erring, conscience stands at the door of our heart, and says to us, on the part of God himself, � It is not lawful for thee.� (Matt. XIV, 4) No, it is not allowed thee to do that action, to keep that connection, to speak that word, to rest on that thought and desire. Read not that book which is of dangerous tendency; keep not the company of that person whose character is suspected; expose not thyself on that occasion which will prove fatal to thee; that gain is unlawful."
  3. Conscience judges us. The instant the sin is committed against God, the decree of conscience is passed against us: "Thou has sinned; thou hast deserved hell. If thou die in this condition, thou art damned. The moment of thy death will begin to put the sentence into execution." It is however, God himself, the sovereign Judge, who at this time makes his voice heard, and passes the sentence. Conscience is but the instrument and organ of the divine sentence. It pronounces in God�s name, and condemns under his sovereign authority."
  4. "Therefore, it only remains for conscience to assume the character of executioner, and to exercise its vengeance upon us. Dreadful charge, and still more terrible than all the rest! It punishes us. Almighty God entrusts the interest of his justice and revenge to the hands of conscience. And in how many different ways does it discharge this dreadful office against the sinner after his sin. By those racking remorses which tear him in pieces; by the gnawing worm which eats him up; by the continued consciousness of his guilt, which follows him everywhere; by the fears, terrors, and continued alarms, in which he lives."
Here I shall give you the information by which you can procure an excellent article on A Question of Conscience? or Can We Commit a Mortal Sin Without Knowing It? This is not what we understand by a personal production. It is an excellent compilation of materials on conscience. It was done by one of our Catholics in Australia, John M. Cooke. He has been on my mailing list to receive my newsletters for many years.  

I quote from page 6: "Compiled and printed by John M. Cooke. 100 Bowen St., Warragul 3820, Vict- Australia." He has this article for sale for $2.00c postped. (A $2.00c stamp acceptable). Hence, the only place for those in Australia to buy the article is from John Cooke himself. The postage between here and Australia is almost insane. The cheapest rate for just one calendar mailed to Australia was $3.80 US. 

John Cooke has another offer which I quote here: "All the above information, except for a few observations, has been taken from Rev. Fr. Michael Mueller.�s book "The Catholic Dogma", 1899. This book is available in p/c from the compiler of this article, and consists of 294 pages. $20.00 posted. (Aust.). If anyone wants to order that book it would be sensible to find out all the problems of money exchange before ordering. Then, the postage is out of this world, as I said above. 

All manuals on Moral Theology have a treatment of conscience. For your information I will give you the information for getting two such books:  

  1. #1209 Moral Theology, PB Jone (Capuchin) @ $16.50 from TAN Books & Publishers, Inc. P.O. Box 424, Rockford, IL 61105 (U.S. 1-800-437-5876), postage on this book alone is $3.00. 
  2. HANDBOOK OF MORAL THEOLOGY by Dominic Pruemmer, O.P., @ $29.95 + p/h $2.95 for the first book. From: Roman Catholic Books, P.O. Box 2286, Ft.Collins, CO 80522-2686.
We shall continue the treatment of conscience. We list the types of conscience. "There is the certain conscience, the tender, the doubtful, the lax, the perplexed, the scrupulous, the erroneous or false conscience. 

False Conscience ... the Blockbuster

While a treatment of all the above types of conscience would be very helpful, the strictures of space force me to jump to the last one, for that is the blockbuster. The whole purpose of John Cooke�s compilation is to meet the question: "Can We Commit Mortal Sin Without Knowing It?" What follows explains that problem, and the conclusion is terrible to even contemplate. Truth does not make one scrupulous (with vain fears), nor does it make one blas� in sin (without fear of hell while in mortal sin). 

St. Thomas says, "If your error is voluntary, and your do not do all you can to find out the truth, you are answerable for your conduct in following a false conscience." Once I cleared out of the Novus Ordo and out of the wishi-washi Traditionalists, I had the out-going feeling of a missionary. I told some of my relatives in the Novus Ordo, "I will prove you wrong with your own books." The husband stopped me in my tracks, saying, "You will not. We are satisfied where we are." (in the Novus Ordo sect). Of voluntary ignorance Father Mueller says: "If you are willfully ignorant of what you are bound in conscience to know, you are responsible for all your actions." 

Here comes the blockbuster. What about all the Protestants (the new generation of Novus Ordo people are Protestants also) brought up in heresy and had no opportunity of knowing better? Father Mueller says, "This class of Protestants are called invincibly or inculpably ignorant of the true religion, or material heretics, and are not guilty of formal heresy. What is most deplorable in their case, is that, should they fall into any other mortal sin, as may very easily happen to such persons, they are deprived of the grace of the sacraments and are COMMONLY LOST (blockbuster coming) not on account of material heresy, but on account of other sins they have committed, and from which they are not freed by the sacrament of penance, which does not exist among them; nor by any act of contrition or perfect charity, which they commonly do not attend to; thinking they are justified by Faith alone and trust in God; and by this accursed confidence, they are miserably lost." (Quoted by Father Mueller from Lacroix. Lib. ii,n.94.)  

"But," as Bishop Hay says, of Protestants who live among Catholics, "it is almost impossible for them to be in a state of invincible ignorance." 

Today, we Catholics are a small remnant, and all those who pass us up blithely, for all the hay-wire Societies and priests, better convert or expect the worst when they die. 

I have noted in these letters before, "There is no glory living in a fool�s paradise of blind ignorance." Of course, it is not easy for us either, for we are looked on as fools, "Where ignorance is bliss (and has the right of way in this world) it is folly to be wise." 

A Devotional Home Periodical

Every Catholic home should have some Catholic periodical. The Catholic Hearth is composed of pre-Vatican II materials, chiefly stories of holy people and stories with a moral. It can be ordered from the producers: 
    The Catholic Hearth 
    Route 2 
    Box 29A 
    Long Prairie, MN 56347
It is a monthly, and it is $25.00 a year. ($45.00 for 2 years & $65.00 for 3 years) Children and adults alike will love it. The Neumann Press, also sell many books; most of them are good. 

The Five-Fold Scapular

Scapulars can be ordered from: 
    976 West Minnehaha Ave. 
    St. Paul, MN 55104-1556
The number is 03382 "Five-Fold Scapular. The Passion Scapular, The Trinity Scapular, The Scapular of Mt. Carmel, The Scapular of the Seven Dolors, and the Immaculate Conception Scapular ...$11.50 p/h $4.00 a total of $15.50. I wear this five-fold scapular during the day, and I wear the brown scapular with the five-fold scapular medal attached to it during the night. I can convert (bless) any medal into the five-fold-scapular substitute-medal. I encourage all of you to wear the brown scapular with the five-fold scapular medal attached to it. If you can afford it, get the real thing as priced above. 


Although the month of November (the month of the holy souls in purgatory) is nearly over I want to give you a pep talk on this devotion and the means of helping the souls in purgatory. Lest we forget those suffering souls, the Church sets aside one month of the year to draw our attention to this devotion and singular act of Christian charity. There are many ways that we can help the poor souls in purgatory. I will start out with the method called indulgences. 

The Church says of indulgences: 

    "All men are to value indulgences highly: that is to say, the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin even after its guilt has been forgiven, which ecclesiastical authority grants from the treasury of the Church in behalf of the living after the manner of an absolution, and in behalf of the dead as an intercession." (Canon 911)
It is a strange coincidence that the number of this canon is the same as our universal s-o-s, the 911. 

I could spend a good deal of time and space explaining that canon more fully, but I think it would be better if I continue with other material from our INDULGENCED PRAYERS (a booklet that I reproduce). 

St. Francis de Sales said: 

    "Mark well that the great art of devotion consists in the practice of spiritual elevation of the heart and ejaculatory prayers. Their value is so great that by them the deficiency of every other kind of prayer may be supplied. The omission of these prayers of affection, however, can scarcely be replaced by anything else. A person unaccustomed to these aspirations is unsuited to the duties of the contemplative life, and moreover, he will but imperfectly perform the duties of the active life. Without these flame-like effusions of the heart, quietness will be mere idleness, and activity nothing but confusion and distraction. 

    "Raise your heart and mind, therefore, often to God, send up to Him darts of love. In these little fervent aspirations, admire the infinite greatness of God�s perfections. Implore His omnipotence for aid. Adore His Divine Majesty. Offer yourself to Him a thousand times a day. Praise His infinite goodness and endeavor to enkindle in your heart a tender, fervent love of Jesus."

Once again all the works of penance can be used to help the souls in purgatory. The works of penance are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Those who do not practice the devotion to helping the souls in purgatory are likely to be unhealed also if they land in purgatory. Those who practice this devotion can feel assured that they will be helped if they land in purgatory. Eternal rest grant onto the souls of the faithful departed, O Lord, Amen. And may they rest in peace. Amen. 

Prayer for the Election of the Pope

Let us frequently say the prayer for the election of the Pope: 
    "We most humbly entreat Thee, O Lord, that Thy boundless goodness may grant as bishop to the most holy Roman Church one who shall ever be both pleasing to Thee, by his loving zeal in our regard, and, by his beneficent rule, deeply revered by Thy people to the glory of Thy name. Amen. 

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