Freedom and law seem to be opposed to each other, as though freedom begins, where law ends. In fact, freedom is personal and it is guided by each individual according to his/her knowledge of good and evil. As long as the moral law specifies good and evil, the individual person is able to choose the good and avoid the evil.
Conscience plays an important role in exercising one’s freedom. Conscience is a rational judgement, with which a person is able to recognize the moral quality of a concrete act, whether it is good or bad. When the conscience specifies something to be either good or evil, the individual has the obligation to do the good and to avoid the evil. In this sense, one’s conscience acts as the proximate norm of personal morality. Thus, a person, who acts against his/her conscience commits moral evil.
Conscience can be right or erroneous. Right conscience judges truthfully the moral quality of an act; whereas, an erroneous conscience judges an act good, even though it is in reality bad/evil. Erroneous conscience is caused by one’s ignorance. Ignorance may be vincible or invincible. A person with invincible ignorance is blameless, because such a person is not able to recognize the evil, so that he/she could avoid it. But a person with vincible ignorance is culpable, because such a person can recognize and avoid the evil but he/she does not want to recognize. On account of this fact, a person with vincibly erroneous conscience commits sin by choosing what is morally evil.
Therefore, forming one’s conscience is very necessary. The right conscience can be formed by instructing the intellect and the will in the knowledge of truth and in the practice of virtues. “In the formation of conscience, the Word of God is the light for our path … We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit … and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church No.1785).
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V.