Catholic Social Teaching: The Truth of Christ Compels Us
us. The "truth" in "our mind" must conform to the truth "out there."
Those truths we have, and their adoption tried, we must grapple them to our souls with hoops of steel to paraphrase and slightly modify Shakespeare. But we must do more than grapple truth to our souls. Truth must be preached from the housetops. (Matt. 10:27) We also have a duty to bear responsible witness to the truth. That means that our words must be true to truth.
"Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no,' 'no,'" the Lord tells us. (Matt. 5:37) With respect to truth, there ought to be less maybes, and our "yes" must never be "no," and our "no" must never be "yes." Our words ought to conform to the truth. Or as Aristotle in his Metaphysics put it: "To say of what is, that it is, or of what is not, that it is not, is true."
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church recognizes the importance of replanting the notion of objective truth in the mass of men. Wallowing in the slough of relativism, we seem unable--not unlike the mastodons and saber tooth cats of old in the La Brea Tar Pits--to extricate ourselves from the ooze in which we slowly sink.
Modern times call for an intense educational effort, and a corresponding commitment on the part of all regarding the quest for truth--which cannot be ascribed to the sum of different opinions, nor to one or another of these opinions--will be encouraged in every sector and will prevail over every attempt to make relative its demands or to offend against it.
There are powers that work against the propagation of the truth, and that have a vested interest in promoting falsehood. We are heirs to a tendentious media and other institutions of communication, entertainment, commerce, and other human intercourse--that are too often founded upon the desire for gain, an "unscrupulous use of money" or profit, rather than a concern with the truth. (Compendium, No. 198)
As T. S. Eliot reminds us in his work Christianity and Culture, Christians face an uphill battle. We are compromised by our implication in a network of secular, even un-Christian institutions which seek to de-Christianize society and pressure us unawares into a practical atheism. "Paganism," Eliot avers, and not just paganism, but a neo-Paganism much more hostile to Christian truths, "holds all the most valuable advertising space."
The truth is important not only for its own sake, but also for what we gain from it: "Ye shall know the truth," said the Lord Christ, "and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31) We can say of Truth what John Donne said of the Trinity in his Sonnet "Batter my Heart, Three Person'd God": "Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free."
This takes us to the next value identified in the Compendium, the value of freedom which is closely aligned with the value of truth. This we shall handle in our next article.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law, called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at email@example.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Truth, social teaching, Andrew Greenwell, freedom, social justice, social doctrine, virtue, morality
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