Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Friday, 25 April 2014

Love



'Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is Love.'

(1 John 4:7-8)

' Agape is the mother of every good..and the bond which holds together our whole condition.'
St John Chrysostom.

'Love is the original image of God in us restored from within by the express image of God Himself, Jesus Christ.'
V. Guroian


Love of God - Agape ( Αγάπη )

Agapic love of God, is the true end ( what we should strive for ) of humanity, from which love of neighbour follows. Love is not a feeling or sentiment, but Christ Himself - and through the incarnation, this end is revealed to us. Christ is the true way of love because He is the Incarnate God. This is pure and divine love,  as 'He committed no sin.'(1 Peter 2:22) The Lord is not only the perfect model of our humanity, but also its goal. The Incarnation of Christ, 'was the ultimate strategy of divine love' Guroian writes, because by God becoming a Human being, this replaces the law as command, with a personal 'invitation for human beings to achieve the full potentialities of their nature and fulfil their vocation of man-godhood.' So the Lord becomes flesh, in order for us to share in His unconditional and divine love. Christ as the God-man, being the Archetype of the image of God, enables us to evoke His virtues and achieve and partake in His abounding love. With Christ connecting divinity with humanity, the virtues are, as St John of Damascus says, 'naturally inherent in all men, even though all of us do not act naturally.' Therefore all human beings have the opportunity to act out of the true virtues, out of our natural love, as we are all created 'according to His image and likeness.'( Gen 1.26 ) St Gregory of Nyssa tells us that through acting out of this love that Christ shares with us, and by exercising the natural virtues, we grow into freedom. This is where we find freedom says St Gregory - through the practice of virtue, which leads to fulfilling our potential which is to be completely restored in the image and likeness of Christ.

St Gregory of Sinai highlights that the origin and basis of all virtues is Christ. Blessedness and perfection is attained when we are one with Him ( as He is perfect ). St Paul writes 'be imitators of me as I am of Christ.'(1 Cor.11.1) Guroian emphasises that one of the main ways that a Christian can be transformed into acting out of agape and out of the Lord's virtues, is through the Divine Liturgy. Divine love is present in the Liturgy, and it is at this Eucharistic celebration that we should share this love with one another. 'Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess' is what we say before reading the Creed, and Father Vassilios Papavassiliou writes ' it is significant that we hear this command..because in the Church, there is no discrepancy between dogma and love, between faith and works.' Saint John the Evangelist tells us that whoever loves God will not hate his brother - so it is impossible to confess our Christian faith without having a loving communion with the Lord and one another. Perhaps this is where the Christian definition of 'what and who God is' differs from the definition in Judaism and Islam - or any other monotheistic faith.

Fr Vassilios interestingly writes ' if you ask a Jew or a Muslim, 'who is God?' their answer may be a variety of names for God, but all of them would be the equivalent of what Christians know as the Father. For the Christian, this is only part of the truth, and does not reveal the fulness of the Godhead.' I began this piece of writing with a rather short extract from the Gospel, however it is so significant and fulfilling. It tells us that God is love - and that is how most Christians would respond to the question 'what is God?' Fr Vassilios writes 'God is love because God is more than one person. Only a person can love. Many like to think of God as an impersonal, mystical force, but then we cannot speak of a God who loves and forgives - only a person can love and forgive.' This is a simple, but yet moving and a beautiful way of explaining the Trinitarian reflection and revelation of what love exactly is. We have said that God is love, however at the same time love cannot exist on its own accord - without more than one person. True divine love is certainly not self-love, it is the love of another. God is love because He is Trinity : three persons in one Godhead - 'an eternal relationship of love.' Furthermore, we can partake in this eternal relationship of love in this world and in the next. Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share eternal love in unity, we are also asked to 'love one another' and with one mind we must therefore 'confess: Father Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided.'

The Rich Young Man (Matt.19:16-22)

The young man asks Christ, 'what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?'  The Lord says that he should keep all the commandments, to which the man replies 'which?' Christ then tells him various commandments that he should keep, and the young man tells Him 'all these I have observed; what do I still lack?'

'Go sell what you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me' Christ replies ! This is the very definition of sacrificial and selfless love. The young man simply thinks that by observing the 'rules and regulations' of the commandments, that He will achieve salvation. He doesn't recognise that what matters is not so much the law, but love. Guroian highlights that all the virtuous deeds are in a person's inherent qualities and overall nature when the image of God is being fulfilled and restored, and therefore they are united with the true love of the Triune Creator. The virtues are only present because of divine love. As Guroian writes 'in Christ all the virtues turn out to be one complete character of kenotic and agapeistic love.' St Symeon the Theologian also says that 'love supplies perfect discernment.' Laws and commandments do not fulfil us in the same way, nor do they guarantee us the same discernment that love does.

Extract from V. Guroian's passage 'The Character of Love' - from which I have based much of this piece of writing on : 

No distinction should be made 'between the activity of worship and morality because the two amount to the same loving service toward and identification and union with ones brethren. The final criterion of how and when such loving service and union are accomplished is not any general or universalizable principle of right conduct but the Spirit Himself communicating to each member of the Body of Christ' ( the Church)

As Christ prays to the Father for His disciples and for all those who believe in Him, He asks that  'they all may be one as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us.' ( Jn 17:21) The Lord is asking us to be unified in His divine Love - Love is His presence on earth, and it is our aim and goal - leading to a full eternal communion with Him - the very source and meaning of Love. 

Love 'is the first and great commandment' (Mt 22:38)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Discussion on Scripture and Command Ethics & The Foundation of Orthodox Christian Ethics


An ethical law establishes a relationship between God and His people - and this Holy law has been handed down to Moses, and to the whole world in order to guide the human race; as a moral code of discipline from God to man.

There is no document which has exercised a greater influence upon morals, than the Divine Commandments. The Ten Commandments constitute the ethical code by which human beings are guided; on one hand to believe in the True God, and on the other hand to sustain a Godly and Holy society, in the application of God's Will on earth. They are rules of life for us all, and are deepened by Christ's teachings in the 'Sermon on the Mount.' 

“The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ( Mark 12:29-31)

Command Ethics : Calvin's 'Exposition of the Moral Law'

The law given to us in the Holy Scriptures, reveals true goodness and at times shows us that we are simply incapable of fulfilling these commandments. This however gives us a never ending battle, to 'fight the good fight' ( 1 Tim 6:12 ) and try to aim for true goodness and righteousness. The command theory of ethics tells us that God is the first and uncaused cause of everything in the world; and by observing the Lord's commandments means that we will fulfil God's Will. Calvin claims that the law that is revealed to us in the Scriptures is morally sufficient, and 'should not be crowded out by good works.'

Surely we need something else to assist us, in making sure we adhere and obey to the moral teachings of the Gospel, and Christ's commandments? The main problem lies in the fact that we are fallen - we are sinners that are frequently faced with the conflicts between our confession of faith ( so the ability to understand what is being asked of us in the Scriptures ) and our passions. Our passions are the impulses of the flesh, that lead to separation from God and His commandments. The Lord is the only source and true fulfilment of our human existence, so we must find ways to get rid of these passions, that divert us away from the Will of our Creator, and His law. Perhaps if it had not been for this conflict, then Calvin's view would be valid - however his stance is far from being realistic. It is clear that the closer we become to fulfilling the commandments of Christ, the more temptations we face - increasing this conflict and tension between living God's will , and our self-centred passions. 

John Breck writes ' were it not for this conflict, we would by our very nature know the will of God and conform our attitudes and actions to it. There would be no ethical dilemmas, no hard choices in the moral life.' So without sin, and our selfish and inward looking tendencies, we would of course be able to look at the commandments of the scriptural laws, and abide by them. As a clergyman told me recently ' the canons of the Church, and the commandments are there to be broken!' As soon as we are surrounded by rules and laws, we will want to contradict them and reject them. This is where Calvin's idea of having scripture alone as our guide, seems to fail. 

Sin, which is the destruction of human autonomy - has corrupted our capacity to know, to love and consequently to obey God above all.  Paul tells us 'all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God' ( Rom 3:23 ) Therefore every one of us, even the most devoted among us, have to deal with this conflict between our faith, and fulfilling God's will, and passions. Sin brings unclarity and confusion, and this is no different when we try to read the Bible, and decide exactly what its moral and ethical teachings are. There are various ways of interpreting several commandments, even some of the Ten Commandments; therefore Calvin could have a very different moral stance to that of one of his contemporaries. This is where we see the unclarity, and difficulties of command ethics.

So if we cannot base morality and ethics solely on certain commandments (as they can be unclear and contradictory) , then what can we base it on ?

Morality and Ethics, must be based on revelation. We must collectively look for answers to our moral questions in the Holy Scriptures, as well as the teaching tradition of the Church. When we do so, clear indications emerge, and that is that 'God is Love' (1 John 4:7-12) Our attitudes and actions should reflect the sacrificial love that 'shone forth…in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ' as John Breck writes. As I discussed in the first piece of writing this week, love is something that surpasses laws and commands; it reiterates them, but at least when we act out of this selfless and pure love that Christ shows to us, then we can be sure we are acting upon His will and commandments. This is not going against the Commandments of the Old and New Testaments, but it is putting them into practice, in a true way. Love is the complete opposite of sin, as is it God's very presence within the world; and so we can be sure that when we act out of this, we are acting in a way which is morally and ethically right. 

This conviction, has led Orthodox Moral Theologians to develop a 'love ethic'. This guides us in a way that is different to the perhaps narrow-minded Command ethic, virtue ethic or natural law. It gives human beings 'the chance to breath' as a dear clergyman once said to me when describing the Orthodox way of life ( Fr Mark McBeth ). Of course we live in sin and corruption, but once we are in the boundless, endless, transcendent realms of Christ's love, and act out of this humble and sacrificial love, then we are on the right path; not only in making the right decisions in our lives, but also to salvation.

All the ethical theories that are used in the field of Christian theological ethics are not invalid at all - they are all very much important, but they all fit together into a wider, purer, ethic - the ethic of Christ's love. Even though I have criticised them ( and in particular command ethics), as being insufficient; as Breck puts it , these other ethical theories such as command, virtue and natural law are not 'mutually exclusive. Orthodox Ethics may stress the importance of reflecting divine love through human deeds, but the motivation behind such 'works of love' will be the quest for virtue, and its content and application will be specified by God's own law' ( which is of course revealed in the Commandments).

To conclude, in order to discern the divine will of our Lord, we must draw upon the full range of ethical theories ( but perhaps not dividing them up, because for example the natural law is not separate from the commandments or the virtues that the Holy Spirit brings ). We must look upon all the rich sources of revelation within the Church, and the created world in which we live. From Scripture, to the doctrinal ascetic and mystical writings of the Fathers, as well as the Church's liturgy, worship and traditions, with the iconography and hymnography : they will all lead to the sacred path of love. 
The Risen and Glorified Lord, is present and active in the whole Church , and in the whole of Creation and its experiences. When a human being welcomes all this sacred revelation, they will gradually be guided and transformed into a free, virtuous, loving person, who is in the divine image and likeness of the Triune God;  radiating the ethos and love that the Scriptures proclaim. 


In one of my next pieces of writing, I will be concentrating on Love in Orthodox ethics, with reference to the great theologian and teacher Vigen Guroian.



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Freedom

Within the next two weeks , I will be posting short pieces of writing regarding the following topics :
* Freedom
* Scripture and Command
* Nature and Creation
* Love

We begin this series of topics, in the field of Theological Ethics with Freedom.

Biblical Passage : Romans 8: 1 - 17

The Apostle Paul tells us that if we are one with Christ, then we are truly free from death and sin. God Has renewed mankind, putting our broken pieces together with His Only begotten Son Jesus Christ ; reconnecting humanity with Divinity. Paul makes it clear that it is the Holy and Life giving Spirit that can truly fulfil us and allow us to keep the Lord's commandments and Holy Law.

Our 'conduct is no longer controlled by the Old Nature, but by the Spirit.' Paul gives us a comparison between the old nature and the renewed way of life in Christ.  'Those who live on the level of the old nature have their outlook formed by it, and that spells death; but those who live on the level of the Spirit have the spiritual outlook, and that is life and peace.'

If Christ is within us, dwelling in our hearts, then this enables us to get rid of the pursuits of the body, and then this is where true life will exist. A life in Christ is not a life of slavery, the Apostle Paul adds, but a life of freedom, as God's children. St Isaac the Syrian says ' when you enter the path of righteousness, then you will cleave to freedom in everything.'

Do we have a free choice, regarding which path to take ?

Christos Yannaras writes ' the fall of man takes place when he freely renounces his possibility of participating in true life.'  So the very fall of man was a free choice -  just as we have the choice to fall or to fulfil our potential - which is to have personal communion with God. From the moment that a man rejects this call and opportunity, he becomes alienated from himself - from his very own freedom and existence. He rejects true freedom - freedom which transcends nature and frees existence from natural necessity.

Ancient Philosophy has always taught us that good and evil are parts of the structure of our universe. The Creator God Has set good and evil into the structure of bodies, matter, mentality and spirit. For Plato, Aristotle, as well as Moses and Christ Himself, 'the good life' is living in accord with a given structure. Christ uniquely calls this structure Love - for God and neighbour.

For the Apostle Paul, this Love ( Αγάπη ) is a higher authority than law. A prime example of this is when he discusses the eating of meat - he does not simply give us a set of rules; but advises us not to behave in a way that will offend any fellow human being. It is Love that we should act upon first - and if we do so then our choices and decisions will not be self-centred, and egoistic, but Χριστοκεντρική ( Christ-centred ) During the period of the fast, Orthodox Christians are advised by the Church to take this time to discipline themselves against temptation, and abstain from all animal products. However, if we are invited to someones house, and they kindly offer us something to eat which would mean breaking the Holy fast - we should take it and be thankful! This is exactly what Paul's message is; that we have a duty to our brothers and sisters - and that duty is love.

For Paul, persons are internally divided. We will the good, however we do not always act in a good way. He tells us that mortality is the consequence of rebellion against God, as is the σάρξ, the flesh; sinful, fallen and old nature. The  'Σάρξ' points out the contrast and gap between human and divine natures. However Christ becomes 'σάρξ' - adopting human flesh and blood, and in doing so destroys this gap and contrast.

Therefore to live in Christ or 'by the Spirit', is to do exactly that ; destroy this contrast between the flesh and the spirit. The divine nature and human nature.
This change goes from being in slavery, to being completely free - as the God-man ( 'Θεάνθρωπος' ) gives us the ability to be set free from death and sin.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Conscience

In this essay I will argue that conscience is certainly an essential concept in Theological ethics. I will bring forward the main ideas and views of what conscience is, and what role it plays for each human being. I will argue that as individuals, we should ‘listen to our conscience when it works’ as St Symeon the New Theologian says; as it is the centre of our self-awareness and moral decisions. I will discuss and compare the views of Joseph Butler, both Popes John Paul IV and Benedict XVI, C.S Lewis and James Keenan.

According to Butler conscience is something that everyone has - every individual regardless of race or religion, has conscience; and this conscience determines our actions. He tells us that society is not controlled merely by official governing laws, but really it is our moral conscience that holds society together. Conscience is the supreme faculty - distinct in every person. Through our conscience we see the outside world and decide what is morally right. Joseph Butler presents us with a tripartite hierarchy showing us how the human person is composed. At the top of this hierarchical scale, there is conscience, and following down there is self-love and benevolence, and lastly passions. Butler states that the acts of self-love and benevolence are linked. At a basic level we should love ourselves, as being able to love includes doing good to ones self. Without this we cannot do good to others, and help them. We must make the right decisions for ourselves, and from this we can then help others make the right moral decisions - and act with love towards them. Below this, is our individual passions and emotions he claims.   With his practical empirical approach, he says that passions and appetites must be shaped in the right way, with our gift of conscience leading these emotions towards the morally good. Butler clearly incorporates our feelings and emotions as individuals. This makes his view on human nature somewhat more realistic than that of Kant for example, who focuses on reason - or Bentham who tells us that we should specifically seek pleasure. 

In contrast to Joseph Butler, Thomas Hobbes takes the view that human nature is that of violence and greed. From his own experience during the civil war, he was well aware of what could happen when living under a weak government. During this time, people acted selfishly and violently - with no sign of moral intuition and conscience. Hobbes thinks this is why we need a strong and authoritative government. However Butler does not agree with Hobbes and tells us that conscience is what guides us. Surely listening to the natural moral law within us will bring about a fair and just society, as opposed to being restricted by man-made dictatorial laws. Hobbes has a mechanized view of human nature, but Butler  implies that our conscience is far greater than a machine.  In his opinion every individual has a self reflective capacity and therefore gives us the ability to ‘know ourselves’ ; a phrase frequently used by Ancient Greek Philosophers. Butler lived in a very rationalist society , and did not want to be seen as a religious enthusiast. Consequently his ideas are not very obviously Christian. Perhaps intentionally, even though he was the Bishop of Durham, there is not much inclusion of spirituality and God. However his work is fully compatible with Christianity, and is a great concept for Theological ethics.

Our present actions and deeds are affected by our previous actions and decisions - this is why when we act we are sometimes overpowered by our bad habits and again act in the same way. In reply to Butler, Darwell argues that due to our habits grown out of our accumulative past actions, we do not act by the gift of conscience. This is perhaps the problem with Butler’s view, in that he assumes our conscience will always lead us in the right direction. However, on many occasions we are unsure what our heart is telling us as our thoughts and ‘λογισμοι’ take over and corrupt the heart. Τhis is why Saint Symeon carefully states that we should listen to our conscience, if it works properly. Therefore we must remove bad habits, sin and passions in order to have our heart ( our conscience ) clear, so that it will lead and guide us.

If we were to compare and link our conscience with rationality, then Plato backs up this view of a battle between our conscience and passions and distractions. In his piece of writing, ‘Phaedrus’ he emphasizes how we should fight and make sure that our reason ( or for us conscience ) which is something separate from our thoughts and feelings, takes over and guides us.  Plato’s Tripartite theory of the soul shows that reason is what should control and guide the other two elements of the person - which he argues are desires and argumentative reason. In the Platonic tradition, there is a real struggle with reason and the other two parts of the soul. Reason takes the lead, but only through hard work and difficulty. It is not a harmonious relationship between the parts of the soul, but rather a struggle. This is in order for our gift of reason to win over the other passions and thoughts which divert us from the good path. If we do not follow the path of our conscience, we are turning away from God’s divine nature and will. 

Surely this is very difficult, deciding for ourselves what God’s will actually is, simply through our own personal conscience. The Bl.Pope John Paul II, tells us that conscience cannot simply be a personal decision, but it has to be through being open to the moral teaching of the church, and the divine law of God. This is when we are truly guided on the right path, to act in the right way. He says it is ‘a primordial insight, about good and evil’ that reflects ‘God’s creative wisdom which, like an impenetrable spark, shines in the heart of every man.’ Our conscience is formed by the Church, and its teaching, which brings a person to the fullness of the truth. We must stick to the Church’s tradition and teaching to keep ourselves focused on our heart, rather than our free thought. We are all faced with difficult individual decisions, and Paul II realistically writes that we cannot apply general moral norms to help us with these decisions - but the body of Christ ; the Church. 1


1 John Paul II, Conscience and Truth, Veritatis Splendor (1993) 54-68.

With reference to Romans 2.6-16 (‘The work of the law is written on their hearts’) John Paul II tells us that our conscience is our heart. In this heart we can see the law written by God, and it is for us to obey this law. It is present in everyone , in order for us to follow God’s will, and it is through this that man will be judged. Where else and how is conscience referred to in the Scriptures?
In the The Old Testament, the word ‘conscience’ does not appear, however it does speak of the ‘true heart’ ( Leb in Hebrew ) which consists of the Divine Law. Throughout the Old Testament, people experience God calling them to live His will and Divine natural law; and there are instances where God is clearly judging them accordingly. Relevant examples of this are Adam and Eve’s shame and guilt, as well as the remorse of the people of Israel. In Orthodox Theology, the main consequence of the Fall is guilt - and this guilt has been caused by Adam and Eve turning away from their pure and holy gift of conscience. According to the original Greek translation, ‘συνειδησις’ , (conscience) was seen as the human faculty of right decision-making; ‘ the ability to recognize natural laws and choose to follow them appropriately, possessed by those with ‘phronesis’  ( practical wisdom )’. 2

For Saint Paul, unlike Butler, conscience is not some special faculty that is separate from the rest of human thinking, nor is it secret wisdom that only few people have the gift of. It is  simply our ability to understand what the law demands of us. Peter and Charlotte Vardy highlight that Paul uses this word ‘συνειδησις’ thirty times in his letters, and ‘καρδια’ ( meaning heart, which seems to mean the same thing as conscience) even more frequently. Augustine of Hippo tells us that human beings see the moral code in the ‘book of Light’, the Holy Scriptures. He suggests that conscience is in fact putting on the mind of Christ, and therefore leads to acting out of goodness and love.

2 Peter and Charlotte Vardy, Ethics Matters (London:SCM Press, 2012) 266.
3 Peter and Charlotte Vardy, Ethics Matters, 266.

Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his essays ‘On Conscience’, that it is our primary guide.  It is obedience to the truth of God’s will, as well as an exercise of our freedom.The Philosopher and Theologian Christos Yannaras writes ‘for the Church the question of Ethics takes as its starting-point the freedom of morality’ 4 - which is our conscience. This highlights that our conscience is the source of our morality, and our ethical decisions. This links to Butler’s view of conscience being the starting point, and the main faculty of the human person. This freedom is personal responsibility to God, and it is clear when someone acts against this gift of conscience that guilt is experienced, and a ‘clear conscience’ is desired. This shows that the heart, our moral judgement ,is bound to God. It is a result of His great creation of human beings - His children, in which the image and likeness is present. Whenever we go against this gift, we feel distant from His will and His presence. 5

C.S Lewis writes that this natural law and practical reason that we are given from God, is the ‘sole source of all value judgements.’ 6 He highlights that this ‘heart’, or conscience will never change. Some would then argue that our moral judgements and stances have certainly changed since the middle ages. However C.S Lewis tells us that every single new judgement of value derives from the source of all judgements and decisions - the natural law within us. A relevant example would perhaps be the new laws on same sex marriage being put into place across the Western world. This law is heavily criticized by the Christian Church, for several reasons. If we were to ask why societies want to introduce such laws, we would probably get answers such as ‘out of love’, ‘freedom’, ‘fairness’, and not wanting to condemn and judge their fellow humans according to their actions. In their true sense, these morals are central to Christian theological ethics, and as we have seen so far these are within our conscience in order to act out of selfless love, and in the right way. 
4 Christos Yannaras, The Freedom of Morality (Crestwood, NY:St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984) 15.
5 Peter and Charlotte Vardy, Ethics Matters, 267
C.S Lewis, Abolition of Man (Norderstedt:Exciting Classics, 2013) 28.
C.S Lewis explains that this natural law of true love and fairness has been ‘wrenched from their context.’ 7 Each human being has the ‘idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.’ 8 Lewis highlights how our differences in what is right and wrong are exaggerated. We all have a sense of what true morality is he argues, and this is Christian morality. 9 

Conversely, James Keenan shows that in the American liberalist context conscience simply becomes a ‘weapon’  in the defense of an individual. He writes that ‘the position does not assert that I have an obligation to conscience; the position is that I have a right to do what I want.‘ 10  Therefore our conscience has been turned into something that we use to act in any way we like - and our argument for doing so would be that we all have our own conscience telling us how to act. I would argue this simply manipulates our gift of our moral judgement, and strongly goes against the Christian tradition and practice.10

In Psalm 50,  one of the most popular psalms in the Orthodox Church, we read ‘ create a clean heart in me Oh God’. This is a great concept in spiritual life, particularly in the Lenten period for example, where we aim to clean our hearts, our conscience, in preparation of the Glorious and Joyous resurrection of our Lord. During the lenten period, the Church advises us to fast, to get rid of all egoism and self-centeredness by giving up food, money, unnecessary pleasures; and to act with true love and humility. 


7 C.S Lewis, Abolition of Man, 28.
8 C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity (London : Harper Collins, 2001) 8.
9 C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity, 13.
10 James Keenan, Compelling Ascent : Magisterium, Conscience and Oaths (St Patrick’s College, Maynooth:Irish Theological Quarterly Members, 1992) 209.



This is a beautiful example of how we can make sure our conscience is clean and pure, as it is not being corrupted by any other thoughts or habits. This is exactly what John Paul II recommends to us, that we follow the teachings of the Holy Christian Church, in order for us to listen to our conscience with the certainty that it will guide us towards the good and Will of our Creator. This particular example of fasting is a powerful one, that really does ‘create a clean heart’, as it is a weapon that takes away greed, pride and selfish passions. If we genuinely ‘Fight the good fight of faith’ (1 Tim 6:12), then following conscience, with the help of the Church,is not only central to every faithful Christian, but for the whole of Theological ethics; and throughout the essay I have presented why and how this is the case. To conclude, Saint Maximus the Confessor speaks of conscience in perhaps a simple but yet bold and effective way. He depicts conscience as ‘an intimate friend, one who advises us, to do what is best, reveals to us the will of God, and protects and liberates us from the corrupting influence of our own reasonings and our own feelings or passions.’

11 John Breck, The Sacred Gift of Life (Crestwood,NY : St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1998) 47.

Bibliography

Breck, J 1998, The Sacred Gift of Life, Crestwood : SVS.
Keenan, J 1992, Compelling Ascent : Magisterium, Conscience and Oaths, Maynooth : Irish Theological Quarterly.
Lewis, C.S 2013, Abolition of Man, Norderstedt : Exciting Classics.
Lewis, C.S 2001, Mere Christianity, London : Harper Collins.
Vardy, P & C 2012, Ethics Matters, London : SCM.
Yannaras, C 1984, The Freedom of Morality, Crestwood : SVS.