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Courtesy of Disney

In the classic film “Pinocchio,” Pinocchio is a wooden boy; when he comes to life, he’s given this extraordinary gift, and his name is Jiminy Cricket. Jiminy Cricket will become Pinocchio’s conscience so that whenever Pinocchio’s not sure what he is supposed to do, he’s not sure what’s right from wrong, which is going to help him be a good boy, he’s supposed to give a little whistle, and Jiminy Cricket shows up, and he can talk to his conscience. I want to read the phrases to you. If you can whistle, whistle with me.

When you get in trouble, and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle
When you meet temptation and the urge is very strong
Give a little whistle
Not just a little squeak
Pucker up and blow
And if your whistle’s weak, yell “Jiminy Cricket!”

Take the straight and narrow path
And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle

Take the straight and narrow path
And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle
And always let your conscience be your guide

Take the straight and narrow path

And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle.

When we proclaim the Gospel, right before that, we make the Sign of the Cross on our forehead, on our mouths, and our lips. Why do we do that? We’re signing ourselves, and we are acknowledging the holiness and the presence of God in our minds, in our mouths, and on our lips.

We hear this in both the First Reading and the Gospel. In the First Reading, we hear, “that the Lord is already near to you in your mouth and your hearts.” We hear in the Gospel, “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” The Lord is present to us in those ways. We all have a conscience which is a supernatural reality. It is a gift we are given to us by God. Every single human being on this earth has a conscience.

There is a famous psychologist out right now, and in one of his books, he doesn’t mention a conscience or anything like that, but he says, “If you want to know yourself, sit on your bed one night and say, ‘What is one thing I am doing wrong that I know I am doing wrong that I could fix, that I would fix?'” He says, “If you meditate on that, you’ll get an answer. It might not be the one you like, but it will be necessary.”

We all have the conscience of God, which is given to us. Sometimes in our spiritual lives and our lives in the world, our political lives, we make that so complex and complicated. When we can close our eyes, focus on our conscience, and ask God, “What’s right and what’s wrong. What do you want me to do? What do you want me to stop doing?” The answer will be right there. I guarantee you’ll discover it if you spend some time in silence.

I want to read a few quotes from the Catechism that talk about the conscience we are given. The great gift of our conscience.

It begins deep within us. The conscience of man discovers a law he has not laid upon himself but must obey. Deep within us, a law has been printed on our hearts that we have not created, but it’s there, and we must obey it.

It’s a voice calling him to love, do what is good, and avoid evil. When we get quiet, when we become silent, we hear that voice. That conscience is deep within us to tell us what is good and evil.

It sounds in his heart at the right moment, for a man in his heart has this law inscribed by God. His conscience is man’s most secret core in his sanctuary. Deep within us is the most secret core and the sanctuary of our hearts; we have a conscience.

There alone with God, whose voice echoes in the depths. When we go deep enough in ourselves, God’s voice is there, and God can help us know right from wrong.

The Catechism continues and says when he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking. Again, when we listen to that voice deep within us that tells us what is right from wrong, we can listen to the voice of God in our lives.

It says that it is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. I am going to say that first part once more. It says that it is important for every person to be sufficiently present to themselves. We have to take time to be present with ourselves to hear that conscience.

In “Pinocchio,” when he wants to get rid of his conscience, he goes to Pleasure Island. This island is where he can go, and as a little boy, he learns to do horrible things, drink, smoke, and gamble, and he chokes his conscience almost to death.

We can do the same thing. When we go into pleasure, when we go into social media, when we go right to our phones. We can drown our conscience when we don’t allow ourselves the time of silence. We need to foster that interior life.

This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from reflection, self-worth, examination, or introspection. Life does distract us. We need to spend time getting in touch with that conscience within us.

The Catechism says to return to your conscience if you have been away from your conscience for a while. If you haven’t been in touch with your conscience, return to it, and question it. Turn inward, and see God as your witness in everything you do. It is important for every person to be present and to take time to get in touch with that deep voice within us.

The Catechism says the Gifts of the Holy Spirit assist us. We not only have this conscience within us but are also given the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We’re aided by witnesses or the advice of others. Other people are there to guide us and by the authoritative teaching of the church. We’re given this beautiful revelation of the church to help us on our way.

Finally, conscience is in man’s most secret core. It is in his sanctuary. He is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depth. 

I want you to think about that. Try to get in touch with your conscience and realize, have you drowned it out with sound or any other pleasure activity? When is the last time you’ve sat on the edge of your bed and asked yourself, “Is there anything I’m doing in my life that is wrong . . . that I need to change?” Or, you can maybe kneel next to your bed, and any time you won’t just sign your forehead: May the Lord be in my mind, and my lips and my heart and try to get in touch with Jesus, the conscience deep within you that you may honestly know the will of God for your lives.

It’s not that complicated. We all know our conscience. We all know when we have that deep sense of right from wrong.

Take the straight path and if you start to slide, give a little whistle and always let your conscience be your guide.


  • John A Hergenreder says:

    Fr. Denk your homily ‘s are good, but they come to me a week late, after that Sunday and closer to the next Sunday.
    So, they don’t have as much meaning as if they were closer to the actual Sunday.