I very much enjoy digging deep into the Scripture and its application to our lives. I hope you do as well. You will find the footnoted references from the Catechism at the bottom of this study.
vv. 34-35 How ought this statement by St. Peter impact the Church’s missionary focus? See the apostles’ comments in 11:17-18. See also Romans 2:12-15. Meditate for a while on these texts before you answer the question. Then, regarding evangelism and ‘meeting people where they are,’ in context with our current social and religious issues, see CCC 1777-1793 and answer the bolded embedded questions.
1777 Moral conscience, 48 present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.49 It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking. (to really listen to our conscience implies and requires what kind of environment in which to listen? [See 1779])
1779 It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection:
II. THE FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE
1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path,54 we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. (HOW do we do this?) We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.55 (Note the formation of a proper conscience is a combination and culmination of many different yet necessary ingredients).
III. TO CHOOSE IN ACCORD WITH CONSCIENCE
1786 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.
1787 Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God expressed in divine law.
1788 To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts. (And, do you think, by implication, those things cited in 1785 above?)
1789 Some rules apply in every case:
- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
- the Golden Rule: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."56
- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: "Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ."57 Therefore "it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble."58 See context of this passage in Romans 14:21.
IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENT
1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits. (What do you think about this in light of current events?)
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience. (How might you work to help correct the errors of others – our yourself – of moral conscience?)
49 Cf. Rom 1:32.
50 John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Letter to the Duke of Norfolk," V, in Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching II (London: Longmans Green, 1885), 248.
51 St. Augustine, In ep Jo. 8,9:PL 35,2041.
52 1 Jn 3:19-20.
53 DH 3 § 2.
54 Cf. Ps 119:105.
55 Cf. DH 14.
56 Mt 7:12; cf. Lk 6:31; Tob 4:15.
57 1 Cor 8:12.
58 Rom 14:21.
59 GS 16.
60 1 Tim 5; cf. 8:9; 2 Tim 3; 1 Pet 3:21; Acts 24:16.
61 GS 16.