Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Catholic Dictionary




Revealing the state of one's moral life to another person for spiritual guidance. It has been a practice in the religious orders since early monastic times. Ecclesiastical law respects those clerical institutes which require a manifestation of conscience. But its general attitude is to forbid superiors to demand such an account of one's interior life. On the other hand, the Church encourages all religious, men and women, to be perfectly open with their superiors and, if they wish, to freely reveal to them even their inmost thoughts and desires. In clerical communities it is assumed that superiors, who are priests, may receive such voluntary manifestations of conscience in the sacrament of penance. In nonclerical communities the Church expects religious to periodically manifest their conscience to a competent priest, in or outside of sacramental confession, as an exercise in humility and a valuable means of growing in sanctity.