Some years ago, I had occasion to talk with friends about how we discerned boundaries enclosing us in the will of God. I thought of invisible fencing, where the "fence" is actually a kind of current. One does not see such boundaries, not with the eyes. Such "fencing" can only be detected if we make a move to cross it.
I feel the zap of the invisible fence when I start to head out of God's will. Inside me there is a "zap," a pricking of conscience, an uneasiness that tells me: "No.. head back. Stop."
Invisible fencing is not fatal. It is possible to endure the discomfort and cross over the "fence." Sometimes I do this. I move out of what I know is God's will in spite of the warnings. Paying no heed to pricks of conscience telling me to "stop, don't say that; don't snap at this person; don't give in to anger," I go right ahead. And the jolt gets worse. Then I find myself outside the "enclosure," stuck, stranded, feeling sour, aware of having moved away from God.
I am thankful for the zaps, every one of them. They help me find the boundaries; they hedge me in and keep me safe. My fencing is the will of God as revealed in Scripture and Church teaching, the word of God is my rule of life. I must become so thoroughly acquainted with the Truth that I will feel "zapped" when I move away from it. I cannot find my boundaries if I don't know God's word... (adapted from book The Cloistered Heart)
"Conscience is a judgement of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1778)
"In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. 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." (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1785)
(Laurits Andersen painting 1903. US public domain)