On Conscience

Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings. Chapter 3 Conscience

“When God created man, he breathed into him something divine, as it were a hot and bright spark added to reason, which lit up the mind and showed him the difference between right and wrong. This is called the conscience, which is the law of his nature.” No one can say it better than that.

Dorotheos said that it is in our power either to bury it or, if we obey it, to allow it to shine and illustrate us. When our conscience says to us, “do this!” and we despise it and it speaks again and we do not do it but continue to despise it, at last we bury it and it is no longer able to speak clearly to us from the depths where we have laid it.

No one is without a conscience, since it is something divinely implanted in us, as we have already said, and it can never be destroyed.

Dorotheos takes a turn with scripture that I had not heard before.“Come to an agreement with your adversary while you are on the way with him, lest he deliver you to the judge and the judge to the wardens and they put you in chains.” Dorotheos calls the adversary the conscience. St. Basil says, “the way” is the world.

We are told to guard our conscience as long as we are in the world. The way to guard our conscience is that we do not neglect little things. Let us give heed to trivial matters when they are trivial, lest they became grave.

We need to attend to at least 3 different factors regarding our conscience:

  • Towards God: concerning things, which are not seen by men. For instance: did he neglect his prayers?
  • Towards our Neighbor: that we do not do anything that we think may trouble or harm our neighbor in deed, or word, or gesture, or look.
  • Towards material things: simplicity in everything. Not to use things badly or render things useless, to make do with things instead of always wanting better, etc.


Filed under Flames of Wisdom, Poems, Books and Reviews

2 responses to “On Conscience

  1. s-p

    Someone once said we are not justified by a “good concience”, a good concience will accuse us, a bad concience is one that justifies us.

  2. Tracy

    Beautiful post and timely for Lent. Thanks.

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