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Pope's Preacher: Holy Spirit Speaks Through Conscience

We should tend our ear toward the voice of the prompter that is hidden, so we can faithfully recite our part in the scene of life.

It is easier than we think, because our prompter speaks to us from the inside, he teaches us all things, he instructs us in everything. It is enough to just give an interior glance, a movement of our heart, a prayer.

It is easier than we think, because our prompter speaks to us from the inside, he teaches us all things, he instructs us in everything. It is enough to just give an interior glance, a movement of our heart, a prayer.


VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - The Holy Spirit speaks to a person through his conscience, indicating what is right and wrong, and helps him to make the decisions that correspond to the will of God, says the Papal Household preacher.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa explained in his third Lenten meditation that on reading the Scriptures we can discover how the Holy Spirit guides believers in a twofold manner: on one hand, through their conscience and, on the other, through the magisterium of the Church.

The preacher delivered the sermon today to Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel. It was titled "All Who Are Guided by the Spirit of God Are Sons of God."

Father Cantalamessa stressed that the Holy Spirit is not only the one who guides us "to the fullness of truth," according to the words of John the Evangelist, but is also the "interior teacher," as St. Paul describes him. "He does not just say what should be done, rather he also gives the capacity to do what he commands."

The Capuchin explained that conscience is the ambit where the Holy Spirit exercises his function."Through this 'organ,' the guidance of the Holy Spirit goes beyond the Church, to all people," specified the preacher.

Reasons of the heart

"In this personal and intimate realm of the conscience, the Holy Spirit instructs us with 'good inspirations,' or 'interior lights,'" he continued, and stimulates us "to follow the good and avoid evil, attractions and inclinations of the heart that cannot be naturally explained, because they are often contrary to the direction that nature would want to take."

However, the Holy Spirit also guides believers through the magisterium of the Church, Father Cantalamessa said."It is just as deadly to try to forego either of the two guides of the Spirit," warned the preacher. "When the interior testimony is neglected, we easily fall into legalism and authoritarianism; when the exterior, apostolic testimony is neglected, we fall into subjectivism and fanaticism.

"When everything is reduced to just the personal, private listening to the Spirit, the path is opened to an unstoppable process of division and subdivision, because everyone believe they are right."

"We should recognize however that there is also the opposite risk," he noted, "that of making the external and public testimony of the Spirit absolute, ignoring the internal testimony that works through the conscience enlightened by grace."

"It is the ideal of a healthy harmony between listening to what the Spirit says to me, as an individual, and what he says to the Church as a whole and through the Church to individuals," said Father Cantalamessa.

Two goods

The preacher ended by explaining St. Ignatius of Loyola's doctrine on discernment, which seeks to help the believer to choose "between a good and another good."

Father Cantalamessa explained that sometimes "it is about seeing which one is what God wants, in a given situation. It was primarily to respond to this demand that St. Ignatius of Loyola developed his doctrine on discernment. He invites us to look at one thing above all: our own interior dispositions, the intentions (the 'spirits') that are behind a decision."

The preacher summarized the method of St. Ignatius: "When we are faced with two possible choices, it is useful to first consider one of them, as if we must follow it, and to stay in that state for a day or more; then we should evaluate how our heart reacts to that choice: Is there peace, harmony with the rest of our own decisions; is there something inside of you that encourages you in that direction, or on the contrary has it left a haze of restlessness… Then repeat the process with the second hypothesis. All this should be done in an atmosphere of prayer, abandonment to God's will, and openness to the Holy Spirit."

"The most favorable condition for making a good discernment is the habitual interior disposition to do God's will in every situation," Father Cantalamessa noted.

"Like talented actors," he added "we should tend our ear toward the voice of the prompter that is hidden, so we can faithfully recite our part in the scene of life. It is easier than we think, because our prompter speaks to us from the inside, he teaches us all things, he instructs us in everything. It is enough to just give an interior glance, a movement of our heart, a prayer."

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1 - 7 of 7 Comments

  1. oyebanjo george olusegun
    5 years ago

    The Holy Spirit shall continue to illuminate the kind of Rev Fr Cantalamessa for this wonderful catechesis,you're a gift to the catholic church of Christ.

  2. T
    5 years ago

    I hope we go back to the days when the Holy Spirit ruled us, just like the earliest Christians.

  3. Elizabeth Griffith
    5 years ago

    Conscience is not someone's relative idea of what is right or wrong, but is THE HOLY SPIRITS voice, bearing wittness in our inner being of the truth.... therefore, to silence, ignor, or warp this voice, is to resist, rebel, or refuse to listen to God. To justify this for our own purposes or convenience, is a further offense against the dear Holy Spirit, Fooling ourselves in this way does not exonerate or justify us, but leads to the complacency which will end in a rude awakening unless we come to our senses, choose to care about the truth, listen to the Holy Spirit and let our self-deformed consciences be healed and purified.... the fruit of authentic FAITH and HUMILITY.

  4. J
    5 years ago

    I hope we go back to being like the early Catholic Christians, with the FIRE of THE HOLY SPIRIT!

  5. Tubonemi P. Ibiene
    5 years ago

    This write up is really thought provoking because most times I experience an inner voice talking to me especially when something is about to happen, I only realise this too late when the thing has happened. When I have a disagreement with somebody or do something that is not right either in my thought, words or otherwise my conscience will not allow me to rest untill I say sorry though not to the person physically but I will always do something to appease for my wrong and ask for forgiveness in my mind from God. Generally,my conscience tells me when I am wrong. A person without a conscience is dead.

  6. Andy Holland
    5 years ago

    Father Bless,

    Thank you - that is very beautiful.

  7. Suze Forster
    5 years ago

    I have experienced both the urgency of the Holy Spirit rushing into me when God demands me to pay internal attention immediately to that with which I am considering or struggling, and I have become subtlely aware of the Holy Spirit as a barely audible whisper of affirmation or encouragement in my quiet moments of contemplation. In both interractions it has been patently obvious to me that the Holy Spirit is so inextricably enmeshed with my soul that I may trust the full and unreserved complement of my faith, hope and trust in it's wisdom and guidance to make decisions and to act according to Jesus' will. Since receiving the Holy Spirit into me, I have never felt empty, alone or adrift. Praise be to God for so incomprehensibly precious a grace and a gift.

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